Marriage-based Green Card

A marriage-based green card, officially known as a marriage-based immigrant visa or permanent resident status, is a legal status granted to foreign nationals who are married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). This immigration pathway allows the foreign spouse to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States and eventually pursue U.S. citizenship through naturalization.


Key aspects of a marriage-based green card include:


  1. Eligibility: To qualify for a marriage-based green card, the foreign spouse must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The marriage must be valid and recognized under U.S. immigration laws, and both spouses must intend to establish a bona fide marital relationship. Certain restrictions apply, such as prohibitions against polygamous marriages or marriages entered into for the purpose of evading immigration laws.
  2. Petition process: The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse initiates the immigration process by filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form serves as a formal request to sponsor the foreign spouse for a green card and establish the marital relationship. The petition must be accompanied by supporting documents, evidence of the marriage, and applicable fees.
  3. Adjustment of status or consular processing: Once the Form I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the foreign spouse can proceed with either adjustment of status or consular processing to obtain a green card. Adjustment of status is the process of applying for lawful permanent residency while residing in the United States, typically through the submission of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Consular processing involves applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad and then entering the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
  4. Conditional residency: In some cases, if the marriage is less than two years old at the time the green card is granted, the foreign spouse may be issued a conditional green card valid for two years. To remove the conditions and obtain permanent residency, the couple must jointly file a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, during the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires, providing evidence of the ongoing marital relationship.
  5. Permanent residency and citizenship: Once the conditions are removed or if the marriage has lasted for more than two years at the time of application, the foreign spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States, with the right to live and work indefinitely in the country. After meeting the eligibility requirements, such as maintaining continuous residence and good moral character, the foreign spouse may apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, typically after three years of holding permanent residency status.

Overall, a marriage-based green card provides a pathway for foreign spouses to reunite with their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident partners, establish lawful permanent residency in the United States, and build a life together as a family. It is an important immigration option for couples seeking to live together permanently in the United States and enjoy the benefits of family unity and stability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a marriage-based green card, and who is eligible for it?

A marriage-based green card, officially known as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to obtain lawful permanent resident status (a green card) in the United States. Eligibility typically requires a legally recognized marriage and meeting certain immigration requirements.

Can a same-sex marriage qualify for a marriage-based green card?

Yes, same-sex marriages are treated the same as opposite-sex marriages for immigration purposes in the United States. As long as the marriage is legally recognized in the jurisdiction where it took place, it can serve as the basis for a marriage-based green card application.

What documents are required for a marriage-based green card application?

The required documents may include proof of the marital relationship (such as a marriage certificate), evidence of the petitioner's U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status, proof of any previous marriages being legally terminated, financial documents to demonstrate the petitioner's ability to support the immigrant spouse, and various forms and applications as per the USCIS requirements.

How long does it take to get a marriage-based green card?

The processing time for a marriage-based green card can vary depending on factors such as the caseload of the USCIS office handling the application, the completeness of the application, and whether the applicant is already residing in the United States or applying from abroad. Generally, it can take anywhere from several months to over a year to receive a green card through marriage.

Can a marriage-based green card be revoked if the marriage ends in divorce?

If the marriage ends in divorce before the immigrant spouse obtains lawful permanent resident status, the green card application may be terminated. However, if the immigrant spouse already has a conditional green card, they may still be eligible to apply for a waiver of the joint filing requirement if they can demonstrate that the marriage was entered into in good faith but ended due to circumstances beyond their control.
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