The United States has been a hub for immigrants worldwide, and it continues to welcome individuals who wish to live, work, and settle in the country. One of the most popular ways for foreign nationals to stay permanently in the U.S. is through a green card. A marriage-based green card is one of the quickest and easiest ways for individuals married to U.S. citizens to acquire permanent residency. This guide will discuss the eligibility criteria and application process required to obtain a marriage-based green card.
The first step to obtaining a marriage-based green card is to verify if you are eligible. Applicants must be married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident to be eligible. The marriage must be legally valid and recognized in the U.S., and both partners must genuinely intend to live together as a married couple.
Additionally, the sponsor (the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) must meet certain financial requirements to prove they can support the intending immigrant. Individuals with a criminal record, previous immigration violations, or a history of immigration fraud may be ineligible. You may contact a spousal support attorney to learn more about the eligibility criteria in Houston.
The application process for a marriage-based green card involves several steps, taking anywhere from a few months to a year or more. The process includes filing and submitting various forms, attending interviews, and mandatory background checks. Some important steps in the immigration application process include:
Once you have determined you are eligible, the next step is to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse must file this form. It must include evidence that the marriage is valid, such as copies of birth certificates and marriage licenses. This form establishes the sponsoring spouse’s relationship with the intending immigrant and confirms eligibility.
In addition to filing Form I-130, you must submit supporting documentation along with your application package. This includes tax returns, bank statements, proof of employment, and any other documents that may help prove that your marriage is legitimate and not simply for immigration purposes.
Once USCIS has received your application package and supporting documents, they will schedule an interview with both spouses at a local USCIS office or embassy/consulate abroad if one of the spouses resides outside of the U.S. During this interview, an immigration officer will ask questions about your relationship to determine if it is genuine or if it was entered into solely for immigration purposes.
Once USCIS has determined that your relationship is legitimate, they will approve Form I-130. Then you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, and any additional forms required by your particular situation (such as Forms I-864 Affidavit of Support). This form is used to apply for a marriage-based green card while already in the United States.
Along with filing the appropriate forms with USCIS, it is also necessary to pay all applicable fees associated with applying for a marriage-based green card which can vary depending on your circumstances (e.g., whether you are applying from within or outside of the U.S.).
After submitting the forms, applicants must attend an interview with a USCIS officer. They will also be required to undergo biometrics (fingerprinting and background checks).
After submitting all required forms and paying all applicable fees, you should receive an approval notice from USCIS informing you that your application has been approved and you are now eligible for lawful permanent residence in the United States (green card holder).
Once USCIS approves, you should receive your physical green card via mail from USICS within several weeks, confirming your status as a lawful permanent resident in the United States.
In addition to the above steps, there are some additional considerations that applicants should consider when seeking a marriage-based green card. For example, same-sex couples are also eligible for marriage-based green cards if they are legally recognized in the state or country where they got married. Applicants already living outside the U.S. and wishing to join their spouse in the U.S. will need to apply for an immigrant visa, which involves a different process.
Applying for a marriage-based green card can be complex and stressful, so it is recommended that applicants consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide them through the entire process. An immigration lawyer in Houston can help fill out forms, compile documentation, and prepare for the interview.
A marriage-based green card is a popular and beneficial way for foreign nationals to acquire permanent residency and live in the U.S. with their spouse. Eligibility criteria include marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and meeting other specific requirements. The application process can take time, and it is important to be patient and thorough when filling out forms, submitting documentation, and preparing for the interview.
Consulting with a qualified immigration law attorney can also help ensure a successful outcome. Following the steps and guidelines outlined in this post, individuals eligible for a marriage-based green card can successfully acquire permanent residency in the United States. If you’re looking for a family lawyer in Houston, get in touch with Daniel Ogbeide Law today!
Disclaimer: This article is only intended for educational purposes and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice.