Navigating the process of acquiring a marriage-based green card can feel overwhelming. Yet, with the right guidance, it can be an understandable and manageable journey. Here, we bring you an in-depth guide to understanding the entire process.
What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?
A marriage-based green card permits a foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR) to live and work anywhere in the United States. A green card holder also has the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after three or five years.
Eligibility Criteria for a Marriage-Based Green Card
1. The Sponsor
The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident who is at least 18 years old and capable of providing financial support.
2. The Foreign Spouse
The foreign spouse must be legally married to the sponsor, and the marriage must be recognized in the place where it occurred. Any previous marriages must have legally ended.
Steps to Obtain a Marriage-Based Green Card
1. File Form I-130
The U.S. citizen or LPR sponsor needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the initial step to establishing a valid family relationship.
2. Wait for Approval
Once the Form I-130 is filed, the USCIS will review it and send a receipt notice. If approved, the case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing.
3. File Form DS-260
The foreign spouse must fill out the DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
4. Attend Medical Examination and Visa Interview
The foreign spouse is required to undergo a medical examination by an approved physician, and attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
5. Enter the United States
After visa approval, the foreign spouse can enter the United States and become a permanent resident immediately.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The total time varies depending on the circumstances, but it can generally take 10-38 months.
Adjusting Status vs. Consular Processing
There are two routes to obtaining a marriage-based green card.
Rights and Responsibilities of a Green Card Holder
As a green card holder, the spouse has the right to live and work permanently in the United States, travel in and out of the country, and apply for U.S. citizenship when eligible. However, they must also obey all U.S. laws and pay U.S. taxes.
The Journey Towards U.S. Citizenship
A marriage-based green card is typically conditional for two years. To remove the conditions, the couple must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within 90 days before the second anniversary of the green card approval.
After three years of holding a green card and living in a marital union with the same U.S. citizen, the spouse may apply for U.S. citizenship.
The journey towards a marriage-based green card may seem complex, but with a detailed understanding of the process, it's entirely feasible. It is always recommended to seek legal advice to navigate the immigration laws effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions about Marriage-Based Green Cards
1. Who is eligible to apply for a marriage-based green card?
The U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsor must be at least 18 years old, financially capable, and legally married to the foreign spouse. The foreign spouse must have a legitimate marriage to the sponsor that is recognized where it occurred, and any
previous marriages must have legally ended.
2. What is the first step to obtaining a marriage-based green card?
The first step involves the U.S. citizen or LPR sponsor filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish a valid family relationship.
3. How long does it take to get a marriage-based green card?
The duration varies, but generally, it can take between 10-38 months, depending on the circumstances.
4. What are the two routes for obtaining a marriage-based green card?
There are two main routes:
5. What are the rights and responsibilities of a green card holder?
A green card holder has the right to live and work permanently in the United States, travel in and out of the country, and apply for U.S. citizenship when eligible. They are required to obey all U.S. laws and pay U.S. taxes.
6. How can a green card holder apply for U.S. citizenship?
After three years of holding a green card and living in a marital union with the same U.S. citizen, the spouse may apply for U.S. citizenship. They must also meet all other eligibility requirements.
7. What are the benefits of becoming a lawful permanent resident?
Becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR), or green card holder, offers numerous benefits:
8. Can a lawful permanent resident sponsor another family member for a green card?
Yes, a lawful permanent resident can sponsor certain family members for a green card, including their spouse, unmarried children under 21, and unmarried sons and daughters of any age.
9. Can a lawful permanent resident sponsor their married child for a green card?
A lawful permanent resident cannot sponsor their married child for a green card. However, if the LPR becomes a U.S. citizen, they gain the ability to sponsor their married children.
10. Can a child of a green card holder be sponsored through marriage to the parent?
Yes, a green card holder can sponsor their unmarried children under the age of 21. If the child is married, the green card holder must first become a U.S. citizen to sponsor them. The marriage of the parent does not directly impact the child's eligibility for sponsorship.
11. Can a stepparent through marriage sponsor a stepchild for a green card?
Yes, a stepparent can sponsor a stepchild for a green card if the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18. The stepparent must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, and the stepchild must be unmarried and under age 21 for immediate relative classification.
12. Are waivers available for immigration and criminal violations?
Yes, waivers are available in certain cases for immigration and criminal violations. For instance, the I-601A, Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, may allow a person subject to a three- or ten-year bar for unlawful presence to obtain a waiver before departing the United States for a visa interview.
However, these are complicated legal matters, and it is highly recommended to seek legal counsel. An experienced immigration attorney can provide guidance based on the specific situation.
13. How can an immigration lawyer help in the process of obtaining a marriage-based green card?
An immigration lawyer can be incredibly helpful in the process by:
Our team of skilled and dedicated attorneys has extensive experience in all areas of immigration law. We pride ourselves on providing our clients with compassionate and effective legal representation throughout the immigration process.
Get the Help You Need with Our Immigration Law Firm
Navigating the complex process of obtaining a marriage-based green card can be challenging. Don't do it alone. Our expert team of immigration lawyers is here to provide the guidance you need. We can help simplify the process and increase your chances of success. Don't hesitate to reach out and schedule a consultation with us today.
At our law firm, we're committed to assisting you every step of the way on your journey to a green card. We believe in the power of unity, and we strive to bring families together. Trust us to handle your immigration needs with professionalism, dedication, and expertise that comes from years of experience.