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Immigration Law

Assistance with Immigration Services Including Visas & Green Cards

Marriage through US Citizen

A Pathway to Lawful Permanent Residency

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is a pathway through which a non-citizen can become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States. The process involves several steps and requirements to ensure the legitimacy of the marriage and the eligibility of the non-citizen spouse. Here is an overview of the key steps and aspects of this process:

  1. Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

The first step is to legally marry a U.S. citizen. The marriage must be legally recognized in the country or state where it took place.

  1. Filing the Petition

The U.S. citizen spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the foreign spouse.

  1. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

Depending on whether the non-citizen spouse is in the United States or abroad, the process differs:

  • If in the U.S.: The non-citizen spouse can apply for Adjustment of Status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, concurrently with the I-130 or after the I-130 is approved.
  • If abroad: The non-citizen spouse will go through consular processing. Once the I-130 is approved, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) and then to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the spouse’s home country for an immigrant visa interview.
  1. Proving the Marriage is Genuine

The couple must provide evidence that their marriage is genuine and not entered into solely for immigration purposes. This can include:

  • Joint financial documents (bank accounts, insurance policies, leases)
  • Photos of the couple together
  • Affidavits from friends and family
  • Correspondence between the couple
  1. Interview

An interview is conducted to assess the validity of the marriage. For those adjusting status in the U.S., this interview takes place at a local USCIS office. For those abroad, it occurs at a U.S. consulate.

  1. Receiving the Green Card

If the application is approved, the non-citizen spouse receives a conditional green card if the marriage is less than two years old. This conditional status lasts for two years.

  1. Removing Conditions on Residence

To remove the conditions on residence, the couple must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires. Evidence of the ongoing genuine marriage must be submitted.

  1. Citizenship

After three years as a green card holder, the non-citizen spouse can apply for U.S. citizenship, provided they have lived with their U.S. citizen spouse for the entire three-year period and meet other eligibility requirements such as continuous residence and good moral character.

Key Points to Remember

  • Genuine Relationship: USCIS focuses on the authenticity of the marriage to prevent immigration fraud.
  • Documentation: Comprehensive documentation is crucial throughout the process.
  • Deadlines: Adhering to filing deadlines and interview appointments is critical to avoid delays or denials.

This pathway not only facilitates family unification but also ensures that the immigration system is protected against fraud and misuse.

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