Green Card Through Marriage
It is absolutely lawful to apply for a green card through marriage with a United States citizen or permanent resident. This particular marital relationship with a foreign national is sometimes referred to as a green card marriage. It’s essential to recognize, that a so called green card through marriage is only legitimate under immigration regulations when it isn’t just a charade to get an immigration status. It, however, should also be noted that the laws concerning applying for a green card through marriage are frequently misunderstood.
In a nutshell, it is perfectly legal to apply for a green card through marriage knowing you”ll receive an immigration benefit, provided that the primary reason for the marital relationship was specifically based on mutual love and affection. It is only unlawful where acquiring an immigration status is the only true purpose of the marital relationship.
Applying for a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen
If you and your husband or wife were lucky enough to fall in love and then choose to reap the lawful benefits of this country’s magnificent immigration system, you may apply for a green card through marriage. If the marriage is to a US citizen, the foreign national spouse is, for immigration purposes, an “immediate relative” and a visa (green card) is immediately available. If your husband or wife is a lawful permanent resident, that is, if they are not a U.S. citizen, but rather they have a green card, the rules are slightly different as you will see further below.
Even where a foreign national gets married to a US citizen while in removal (deportation) proceedings, the regulations offers an opportunity for proving there is a valid and genuine relationship. There is, of course, a heightened level of suspicion in these cases, but if you can demonstrate by clear and convincing proof that you have a bona fide (valid) relationship you can still get a green card and avoid being ordered removed by an immigration judge.
Alright, now that you’ve learned that your lawful green card marriage to a U.S. citizen should be regarded as a very positive thing indeed, let’s turn more specifically to applying for a green card through marriage permanent resident.
The 3 Steps to Acquiring a Green Card Through Marriage to a Permanent Resident
1. The Department of Homeland Security/USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition you submit for your foreign national spouse.
2. A spousal immigrant visa must be available for your husband or wife (listed on the State Department’s visa bulletin).
3. Should your husband or wife not be in the U.S. at the time the petition is actually approved and an immigrant visa is available, your husband or wife would be advised to visit to the United States Consulate in order to complete processing the immigrant visa. In the event your better half is actually lawfully within the U.S. at the time the visa petition is approved and an immigrant visa is available, they could opt to apply for their green card by adjusting status.
Confused? Let’s take a moment to recap the rules for applying for a green card through marriage to a permanent resident. If you’re a permanent resident (i.e., a green card holder) and your spousal petition is approved, your foreign national husband or wife would be advised via the National Visa Center/ Department of State whenever a visa becomes available. Should your foreign national spouse be outside the U .S. when you receive the approval notice, they will need to visit the U.S. consulate to finish their visa processing. However, there are some cases in which your spouse may have additional options when you’ve applied for a green card through marriage. For example, if any approvable petition was submitted on their behalf as a direct or derivative beneficiary prior to April 30, 2001, they could possibly benefit pursuant to INA § 245(i). Remember to seek the advice of one of our Bradenton Immigration lawyers to discuss the issue in further detail.
In most cases where a visa number is not currently available, you will have to be patient until one is available. Be aware that your husband or wife may have to leave the U.S. to avoid unlawfully overstaying and accumulating unlawful presence time.
A word about conditional status: If you are granted a green card through marriage and you’re married less than 24 months you’ll be issued what’s referred to as conditional permanent residency status and your green card will be valid for only two years. In these circumstances you must submit a petition to remove these conditions within ninety days of the second anniversary of acquiring conditional status.
Warning: If you are thinking about getting a green card through marriage and you got married only to acquire an immigration benefit then we’re sorry tell you that you’ve got what is referred to in immigration law a “sham marriage” and you’re simply not eligible to obtain any benefit whatsoever. To submit an application on such circumstances is a criminal offense.
Good News: But the good news is that if you wish to apply to obtain a green card through marriage based upon the traditional values of love and affection, you should not be worried in any way. The U.S. boasts a long-standing immigration policy of welcoming legally married foreign nationals as lawful permanent residents.
Please contact us to assist you in applying for a green card through marriage.