If you’re a non-US national married to a US citizen or a permanent resident and you’re looking to migrate to the United States, there are two main routes to consider:
In this guide, we will focus on the process of applying for a Green Card through marriage.
Whether you are applying from within the US or overseas, and depending on your spouse’s status, the steps and requirements may vary. Let’s explore the process further.
Eligibility for a Green Card through Marriage
Before you begin the application process, it’s important to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria. Here are the requirements:
- Applying from Overseas: You must be eligible to be granted an immigrant visa.
- Applying from within the US: You must complete and file Form I-485.
- You must have been “inspected and admitted” or “inspected and paroled” into the US.
- You must be in a genuine and existing marriage with a sponsoring US citizen or US permanent resident spouse.
- Your spouse must have completed and filed Form I-130 on your behalf.
- You must not have any bars to adjust.
- You must be admissible to the US for lawful permanent residence or eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility or other form of relief.
If you have concerns about meeting these requirements, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance before submitting your application to avoid rejection and loss of application fees.
The Immigrant Spouse Visa Application Process
The application process for obtaining a Green Card through marriage involves the following steps:
File an Immigrant Petition
Complete and file an immigrant petition (Form I-130) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your spouse is a US citizen, they will sponsor you as an immediate relative.
Visa Number Availability
If your spouse is a US citizen, a visa number will be provided without a backlog, as immigrant visas for immediate relatives of US citizens are unlimited.
If your spouse is a US permanent resident, you will have to wait for a visa number to become available based on the priority date.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
If you are in the US, you can apply to adjust your status to that of a US permanent resident.
If you are outside the US, you will need to obtain an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad.
Before submitting your application to adjust your status, you will be required to attend a medical examination with an authorized physician and include the results with your application.
You will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment at a local USCIS office to provide your fingerprints and photograph.
Adjustment of Status Interview
If you are in the US, you may be asked to attend an adjustment of status interview at a local USCIS office. The interviewing officer will verify the information and documentation provided in your application.
Additional Requests and Adjudication
If the USCIS officer requires additional information or documentation, you will be notified and allowed to provide the requested materials.
Once the USCIS officer has all the necessary information, they will resume processing your application and make a final decision.
If you are outside the US, you will attend an immigrant visa interview at a consular post abroad.
The consular officer will review your application and ask questions to confirm the accuracy of the information provided.
Visa Issuance and Entry to the US
If your application is approved, you will receive your passport with an embossed immigrant visa stamp.
You can then enter the US as a permanent resident by presenting your immigrant visa at a US port of entry.
Green Card Issuance
Your immigrant visa will serve as evidence of your permanent residency until your permanent resident card, or Green Card, is issued.
Successful applicants will receive a Green Card valid for ten years.
Maintaining Permanent Residence
Once you obtain your Green Card, it’s essential to maintain your permanent resident status. Here are some key points to remember:
- Residency Requirements: You must continue to reside in the US to retain your permanent residence status.
- Travel Considerations: Be mindful of long-term or frequent travel outside the US, as it may lead to unintentional abandonment of your permanent resident status.
- Green Card Renewal: Your Green Card is valid for ten years. Before it expires, you will need to apply for a renewal to maintain your permanent resident status.
- Revocation: Serious offenses can lead to the revocation of your permanent residence.
What happens if my application is successful and I am in the US?
If your application is successful and you are inside the US, you may apply to adjust your status to that of a US permanent resident. This process involves attending a medical exam, submitting the necessary documents, and attending a biometrics appointment and an adjustment of status interview.
What happens if my application is successful and I am outside the US?
If you are outside the US, you will need to obtain an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad. This involves completing documentation verification with the National Visa Center, attending an immigrant visa interview, and entering the US with your immigrant visa.
How long is the Green Card valid?
A Green Card, or permanent residence card, is initially valid for ten years. After that, you will need to apply to renew the card.
What are the conditions for maintaining permanent residence?
To retain permanent residence status, you must continue to reside in the US and avoid prolonged or frequent travel outside the country that may lead to unintentional abandonment of your permanent resident status. Permanent residence may also be revoked for serious offenses.
Migrating to the US with a spouse visa requires careful navigation of the application process and meeting specific requirements.
Whether you’re applying from within the US or overseas, the process involves submitting the necessary forms, attending interviews, and providing supporting documentation.
Seeking professional guidance is advisable to ensure a smooth and successful application.
Once you obtain your Green Card, it’s crucial to understand and fulfill the obligations and responsibilities associated with maintaining a permanent residence in the United States.