What Is A Marriage Green Card?
A marriage green card allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen to live and work anywhere in the U.S. They are granted ‘permanent citizenship’ by obtaining this card. Getting this card is a three-step process. Lawyers will guide you on the same. To give you a brief understanding, we have laid down the steps shortly.
First Step – Establishing your marriage relationship.
The first step is to establish that a valid marriage exists. For this, you will have to submit the I-130 form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This body is a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The spouse who files for this form is either called the petitioner or the sponsor. This is the spouse that already has U.S. residency or is a green card holder. On the other hand, the other spouse is the ‘beneficiary’ or the ‘green card applicant.’
What should the I-130 form include?
The I-130 form has to be filed with supporting documents. These shall include –
- A government filing fee of 535 dollars.
- Proof that the petitioner or the sponsored spouse is a U.S. citizen (you can affix a copy of the birth certificate, passport, or sponsor’s green card).
- Proof that a valid marriage exists (marriage certificate is the appropriate document for this).
- Proof that the marriage is not fraudulent (a joint lease or joint bank account statement shall serve the purpose).
- Lastly, if the spouse has had any previous marriage, they need to show that it has been terminated. For this, they will have to affix a divorce certificate.
These documents have to be sent to the USCIS. After sending the documents, the USCIS shall either approve of it or demand additional information. Once they are convinced that all documents have been filed, they will process the application. The next step will be to check if the spouse is even eligible for a green card.
Second Step – Determining eligibility of the green cardholder.
The U.S. government looks into two steps while determining whether a green card should be given to the spouse. This depends on where the beneficiary spouse resides. If they live in the U.S. itself, then Form I-485 has to be filed. This is known as the adjustment of status application. Again, several documents have to be affixed while filing this form. These include –
- Government filing fees.
- Proof of nationality (birth certificate, passport, etc.).
- Proof that the person can lawfully enter the U.S, a medical examination report.
- Proof that the sponsored spouse can financially support the beneficiary spouse (tax returns are considered the most appropriate document).
Please note – if you happen to fall under the category of the spouse of a U.S. citizen, then you can file both I-485 and I-130 concurrently. The application shall get processed within 9-11 months. On the other hand, if you are a spouse of a U.S. green card holder, then the I-485 form can only be submitted after the U.S. department states that a green card is available. This determination shall happen in the visa bulletin. This is generally one and a half years, but it may vary depending on circumstances arising at filing the form.
Third Step – Attending the green card interview process and waiting for approval.
The third step is attending the marriage card interview. In this interview, the officer shall mainly check the authenticity of your marriage. The officer shall ask basic questions like how long you have been married, your plans, and how you met. It would be best if you answered promptly. Lawyers at Florida Immigration Law Counsel hold demo sessions to ensure that the applicant is prepared enough to answer these questions. The location of the interview shall primarily depend on where the sponsoring spouse resides.
Please note – The entire three-step process might take around 1760 dollars for a spouse living in the U.S. and 1200 dollars for a spouse living outside the U.S. This is just a rough estimate. Also, it does not include the medical examination report, which in itself might take around 500 dollars.
We have tried to lay down the process in brief. However, we again reiterate getting in touch with lawyers who have experience in procuring such cards. They not only ensure that all filings are done appropriately but also streamline the process for you. We also recommend that you do your research and read more about immigration before applying for this status.