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Marriage-Based Green Card

The marriage-based green card is an immigrant visa that is specifically designed for spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It enables a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder to petition his/her spouse to lawfully come, reside and work in the U.S. permanently.

Eligibility Requirements:

To be eligible for the immigration benefit, the following requirements must be met:

  • The beneficiary must be legally married to either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. The marriage does not necessarily have to take place in the U.S.
  • The beneficiary must be married exclusively to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
  • The sponsoring U.S. citizen or permanent resident must be married solely to the beneficiary and no one else.
  • The beneficiary and the petitioner spouse must be in a genuine and bona fide relationship.

How Does the Application Process Work?

  • Step 1: Initial consultation
  • Step 2: Review of documents and forms
  • Step 3: Applying for I-130 to establish the marriage relationship
  • Step 4: Applying for the green card through adjustment of status, if you are residing in the US, which includes application for employment authorization and application for a travel document (Form I-485, Form I-754, Form I-131).
  • Step 5: Preparation of Form DS-260 for consular processing if you are a foreign national residing abroad
  • Step 6: Interview preparation
  • Step 7: Green card interview attendance.

While USCIS has the authority to waive the green card interview and approve applicants applying within the US, a visa interview is mandatory for applicants seeking CR1/IR1 visas through consular processing.

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    Required Documentation: What to Bring to Marriage Green Card Interview

    If applying to marriage based green card through consular processing:

    • DS-260 Form: This is the confirmation page for the DS-260 Application for an Immigrant Visa that you completed online at state.gov/iv.
    • Passport: Your passport should remain valid for at least six months beyond your planned entry date into the United States.
    • Medical Exam: All immigrant visa applicants must undergo a medical examination conducted by a panel physician designated by the consular section. The validity of this exam will determine your visa’s validity, which will mark the last day for entry into the United States. It’s important to note that the medical reports will be transmitted electronically by the panel physician.
    • Color Photograph: Your photograph should measure 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm) and be printed on high-quality photo paper. You’ll need two copies per applicant.
    • Birth Certificate: Applicants must obtain an original birth certificate and its translation, if necessary, for themselves and any accompanying family members immigrating with them.
    • Marriage Certificate: If you’re married, you must provide an original marriage certificate. This requirement applies to all marriages, including those that have been dissolved.
    • Petitioner’s Divorce Decree(s): If you’re applying for an IR1 or CR1 visa as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and your petitioning spouse has been previously married, you must submit evidence of the termination of each prior marriage. This evidence should be in the form of an original or certified copy of a final legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.
    • Divorce Decree or Death Certificate: If you’ve been previously married, you must provide evidence of the termination of each prior marriage. This evidence should be in the form of an original or certified copy of a final legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.
    • Military Card: Male applicants aged 17 and above must provide their military card. If you’ve served in the military of any country, you’ll need to provide an original military record and its translation. If you’re exempt, you must provide an original or certified copy of your exemption.
    • Court Record(s): If you’ve been arrested, charged, convicted, or imprisoned in any country, you must obtain a certified copy of each court record and any prison record, even if you’ve subsequently received amnesty. Court records should contain complete information about the circumstances of the conviction and its disposition, including any sentence or penalty imposed. Additionally, records related to name changes, age amendments, adoption, and similar matters must be submitted. Originals, copies, and English translations of these documents should be provided at the time of the interview.
    • Police Certificate: If you’ve resided in any other foreign country for more than 12 months, or if you’ve been arrested in any foreign country, regardless of the duration of your stay, you must provide a police certificate where available.
    • Proof of Relationship: This may include, but is not limited to, photographs, email messages, phone logs, internet chat logs, and travel tickets demonstrating a continuing relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary.
    • I-864, Affidavit of Support: This form must be submitted by your petitioner and any co-sponsor, if applicable.
    • IRS Transcript and/or 1040 Tax Return Form and W2 Form: These documents for the most recent year should be provided by your petitioner and any co-sponsor, if applicable. If you have a co-sponsor, please include copies of their US passport or green card.
    • Previous passport with valid US nonimmigrant visa, if applicable.

    If you are applying for adjustment of status within US:

    • The interview notice.
    • Please bring a government-issued photo identification, such as a passport or driver’s license.
    • A completed Form I-693: Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, and/or vaccination supplement in a sealed envelope (unless it has already been submitted).
    • Form I-864, Affidavit(s) of Support, along with all required evidence, unless already submitted. This includes Federal Income Tax returns and W-2’s, or certified IRS printouts for the most recent tax year, as well as evidence of your sponsor’s and/or co-sponsor’s United States Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status.
    • Have all documentation establishing your eligibility for Lawful Permanent Resident status ready, such as proof of status as an asylee, refugee, or fiancé(e) nonimmigrant.
    • Bring any immigration-related documentation ever issued to you, including Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), Form I-512, Authorization for Advance Parole, Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document, and all travel documents used to enter the United States, including passports and Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
    • Bring your Birth Certificate.
    • If your Form I-485 is based on a petition filed by a family member, bring your petitioner’s Birth Certificate and their evidence of United States Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status.
    • If you have children, bring a Birth Certificate for each of them.
    • A certified copy of your Marriage Document, your spouse’s Birth Certificate, and their evidence of United States Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status.
    • Additionally, bring all divorce decrees/death certificates for each prior marriage for you or your spouse, Birth Certificates for all children of this marriage, and custody papers for children not living with you. Supporting evidence of your relationship, such as tax returns, bank statements, insurance documents, property documents, rental agreements, utility bills, credit cards, contracts, leases, photos, correspondence, and any other relevant documents, should also be brought.
    • Ensure you have originals and copies of each supporting document submitted with your application. Otherwise, originals may be kept for records.
    • If you have ever been arrested, bring the related Police Report and the original or certified Final Court Disposition for each arrest, even if the charges have been dismissed or expunged. If no court record is available, bring a letter from the court with jurisdiction indicating this.
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Yes, there is a difference. Spouses of U.S. citizens are not subject to visa number availability, allowing them to concurrently file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and Form I-485 Adjustment of Status applications. On the other hand, spouses of Green Card holders cannot file Form I-485 until the Department of State announces the availability of a Green Card in the visa bulletin. This results in longer processing times for their Green Card applications.

    If you are in the U.S., your sponsoring spouse (either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident) should first file Form I-130. If your sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen, you can file Form I-130 together with Form I-485 concurrently. After your case is reviewed, you will be invited to attend an interview with USCIS, where the result of your case will be determined. However, if your sponsoring spouse is a Green Card holder, you cannot file Form I-130 concurrently with Form I-485 and must wait until a Green Card is available.

    If you are outside of the U.S., you must go through a process called consular processing. Your sponsoring spouse in the United States must submit Form I-130, and once it is approved, you will need to attend a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Upon approval of your visa, you will be granted an immigrant visa to come to the U.S. as a permanent resident.

    A bona fide relationship refers to a genuine, real, and potentially long-term engagement between partners who intend to live as a couple in the U.S. USCIS scrutinizes the relationship to ensure it is not fraudulent or sham. Expect an in-depth investigation into your relationship during the review process.

    Yes, lawful same-sex marriages are eligible for seeking permanent residency through a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.

    If your spouse is a US citizen it takes on average 14-20 months.If your spouse is a green card holder the process takes longer since there is a numerical limit to the number of visas available each year, you can only file your adjustment of status concurrently with your Form I-130 if a visa is currently available which could take on average 3-4 years.

    If you are residing in the United States and wish to be employed by a US employer while your marriage-based green card application (Form I-485) is pending, obtaining a work permit is essential in order to work legally. However, applying for a work permit is not permissible if you reside outside of the United States.
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