While obtaining a permanent residence or green card through marriage can many times be the fastest way to obtain residency in the United States, approval is most certainly not a guaranteed.
It is essential that you know the process and also know that these marriages are examined and inspected thoroughly to ensure they are legitimate marriages. Entering into a marriage solely for the purpose of a green card is vetted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
There are certain individuals who would qualify for the green card marriage process. Here is a list of qualification requirements:
- Must be married to a US Citizen or a US Lawful Permanent Resident
- Marriage must be a legitimate marriage – not entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card. Additionally, any prior marriages must be terminated prior to the current marriage.
- Foreign spouse must have entered into the US legally (via a visa or I-94, etc.) and still have proof of entering the U.S. legally.
- An expired I-94 or visa is acceptable.
- Canadian citizens often are not required to provide proof or legal entry; however, if proof is available, it is to be provided.
- The US Citizen or US Lawful Permanent Resident entering into the marriage must not have any arrests or convictions involving violence or sexual offenses against a minor.
- The foreign spouse must not have committed any Crimes of Moral Turpitude.
Once you have determined that you are eligible for a green card marriage, there are a number of items that are required to be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- Petition for Alien Relative (USCIS Form I-130)
- Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary (USCIS Form I-130A)
- Application to Register Permanent Residence (USCIS Form I-485)
- Affidavit of Support (USCIS Form I-864)
- Permission for Work Authorization (Optional) (USCIS Form I-765)
- Medical Examination Results (USCIS Form I-693)
- Request for Travel Documents (Optional) (USCIS Form I-131)
After all the appropriate forms are filed, the USCIS will first contact you regarding a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, USCIS will use a process to identify an individual based on physical traits – fingerprints and a facial scan will be completed and put on file. This is a required appointment for the purpose of criminal background checks. An additional interview will be scheduled by USCIS anywhere from 6 to 9 months after filing the initial application. Following a successful interview, a Permanent Resident Card, or Green Card, is issued in approximately 4-8 weeks after the interview.
What Happens Next?
Although understanding the green card process is helpful, it is also suggested that you speak to an immigration attorney for a consultation before beginning any process. An immigration attorney will assess your situation to make sure that this is the appropriate process to take for your legal status in the United States.
During an important process such as this one, having a well versed and knowledgeable attorney is definitely helpful. At the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas (LRS) in Austin, we take the time to understand your case and your needs, and then refer you to a qualified immigration attorney who is right for your case. We work only with professional, licensed attorney with an average of 10 years practicing law. Contact us today to get started and get a referral.