Green Card By Marriage

It is perfectly legal to get married to a US citizen or permanent resident and obtain permanent residency in the United States . This type of marriage is often called a green card by marriage. You must understand, however, that your so called green card marriage will only be valid for immigration purposes if it was not a mere sham to obtain
an immigration benefit. To that extent the term “green card marriage is often misunderstood—it is absolutely legal to obtain an immigration benefit by getting married, so long as the main purpose of your marriage was a traditional one, that is, for love and affection It cannot be for the sole purpose of obtaining the immigration benefit.

If you and your spouse were fortunate enough to fall in love and now wish to take advantage of this country’s wonderful immigration law permitting you to apply as an immediate relative of a US citizen (or spouse of a permanent resident) we congratulate you on your legitimate “green card by marriage.”

If, on the other hand your marriage was entered into for the main purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit then we are sorry to inform you that you have what is known in immigration law a “sham marriage” and you are
therefore not eligible for any benefit at all. In fact, to apply under such circumstances would be a crime. Remember, if your green card marriage was based on traditional values such as love and affection, you need not be concerned at all. The United States has a long history of welcoming legitimately married aliens as permanent residents and eventually as citizens.

Even where you marry during immigration court removal proceedings, the law provides for a means of demonstrating you bona fide marriage and thus may provide a exception permitting you to adjust status and avoid deportation.

In cases where you are married for less than two years at the time of admission or approval you will be issued what is known as conditional permanent residence status. In such cases you would need to have those conditions removed by filing an I-751 petition to remove the condition to your green card within 90 days of the two year anniversary of obtaining conditional status

We represent green card marriage clients who married for traditional and lawful purposes.

OK, now you know that a green card marriage can and should be a good thing, let’s now take a look at the process of becoming a permanent resident through marriage.

Three Step Process to Obtaining a Green Card by Marriage
The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your spouse.
The State Department visa bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on the date you filed the immigrant visa application.
If your spouse is outside the United States when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, your spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your spouse is legally inside the U.S. when your visa
petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Information for the US Citizen Spouse
If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse is considered an immediate relative and is immediately eligible for an immigrant visa if your petition is approved. Generally, if your spouse is in the U.S. (through a lawful admission or parole) at the time you file a Petition for Alien Relative, your spouse may file an Application to Register
Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status at the same time. If he or she is outside the U.S. , your green card marriage spouse will need to go to the nearest U.S. consulate to apply for an immigrant visa.

Information for Permanent Residents Who Marry an Alien Spouse
Marriage to a Permanent Resident: If you are a lawful permanent resident and your petition for your spouse is approved, your spouse will be notified by the Department of State when a visa number becomes available. If your spouse is outside of the United States at the time of notification, he or she must then go to the local U.S. consulate to complete visa processing. If your spouse is inside the U.S. through a lawful admission or parole and is maintaining that status at the time of notification, he or she may file to adjust status when the visa number becomes available. If that is not the case but the petition was filed on or before 04/30/01 , he or she may be eligible to benefit under section 245(i). Please consult with a green card marriage lawyer to discuss this issue.

If you do not have the visa number issued by the Department of State, you must wait for a number to become current. Your spouse may need to depart the United States to avoid accruing unlawful presence.

What is Conditional Residence?
If you have been married less than two years when your spouse is granted lawful permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. You and your green card marriage spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on permanent residency. Please note – you must generally apply to remove conditional status within 90 days before the 2-year anniversary of the award date of your spouse’s conditional legal permanent resident status. If you fail to file during this time, your spouse will be considered out of status as of the 2-year anniversary, and
may be subject to removal from the U.S.

Can My Spouse Come to the U.S. to Live While the Visa Petition Is Pending?
If you are a U.S. Citizen, once you petition for your green card marriage spouse he or she is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-3 Visa. This will entitle him or her to come to the U.S. to live and work while the visa petition is pending. Seeking a K-3 visa can be a method for him or her to come to the U.S. more quickly .

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