Marriage to a U.S. citizen is sometimes referred to as the “fast track” to lawful permanent residence. The spouse of a U.S. citizen is deemed an “immediate relative” under the law meaning that there are no quota restrictions on the number of people who can obtain green cards through marriage to U.S. citizens.
The U.S. citizen starts the process by submitting a form I-130 visa petition on behalf of their foreign-born spouse. If the spouse entered the U.S. lawfully, he/she can file for adjustment of status (I-485 packet) without having to leave the U.S. Generally, the spouse receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) within 90 days, and may also be eligible for an Advance Parole document to travel abroad.
If the foreign-born spouse entered the U.S. without inspection, he/she may have to apply for a green card abroad. They may, however, be eligible to apply for a provisonal waiver in the United States.
To obtain a green card, your marriage must be bona fide. This is a lot easier to prove if there is a wedding reception where the U.S. citizen spouse’s parents and relatives are present, where the couple has joint property and files joint income tax returns and especially if the couple has a child together.
If the marriage is less than two years old when the green card is granted, it will have a two-year time limit. The couple must submit form I-751 during the 90-day prior before the expiration of the green card in order for the foreign-born spouse to obtain a ten-year green card. If the couple divorces before the end of the two-year period, the foreign-born spouse must use form I-751 to apply for a “good faith marriage waiver” of the joint petition requirement.
Please call our office to schedule a Free Consultation to talk about How to Obtain a Green Card Through Marriage before you get married and before you submit any paperwork to the USCIS.
If you have a two-year green card, but are separated or divorced, please call our office to schedule a Free Consultation to talk about the I-751 Waiver Where Marriage Ends in Divorce.