If you are married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, how do you apply for a green card based on marriage? What are the requirements, steps, and costs involved? And most importantly, how can you make sure your application is successful and avoid any delays, or worse, denials? In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will explain what a green card based on marriage is, who can apply for it, and how to make sure you qualify, so read on to learn what you need to know.
What Is a Green Card Based on Marriage?
A green card based on marriage is a type of immigrant visa that allows you to live and work in the United States as a permanent resident. It is available to the spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders.
Applying for a green card based on marriage takes 9–38 months and costs $1,400–$1,960. You can apply for a green card based on marriage from inside the U.S. or from abroad.
The type of green card you receive depends on how long you have been married when you apply. If you have been married for over two years before you apply for your green card, you can receive the IR1 green card, which lasts for 10 years. If you have been married for less than two years when you apply, you will receive a CR1 green card, also known as a conditional green card, which will be valid for two years. After that period, you can apply to renew and get a 10-year green card.
Who Can Apply for a Green Card Based on Marriage?
To apply for a green card based on marriage, you must prove several things to the USCIS, including the following:
- Your marriage is legal
- You are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Your marriage is legitimate
- Neither of you is married to anyone else
Your Marriage Is Legal
The U.S. government considers your marriage legally valid for immigration purposes if your marriage is officially recognized by the government in the country where your marriage took place. This means that you must have a valid marriage certificate or other official document that proves your marital status.
If your marriage took place in a country that does not issue marriage certificates or has different marriage laws than the U.S., you may need to provide additional evidence of your marriage, such as religious records, affidavits from witnesses, or photos of your wedding ceremony.
If your marriage took place in the U.S., you must follow the laws of the state where you got married. For example, some states require a blood test, a waiting period, or a license before getting married.
If you are in a same-sex marriage, your marriage is valid for immigration purposes as long as it was legally performed in a country or state that recognizes same-sex marriages.
You Are Married to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
To qualify for a green card based on marriage, your spouse must be either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). A U.S. citizen is someone who was born in the U.S., naturalized as a U.S. citizen, or acquired U.S. citizenship through their parents. A lawful permanent resident is someone who has been granted permission to live and work in the U.S. permanently by USCIS.
Your spouse must also be willing and able to sponsor you for your green card. This means that they must file a petition on your behalf with USCIS and prove that they can support you financially in the U.S.
Your Marriage Is Legitimate
Another requirement for getting a green card based on marriage is that your marriage must be legitimate. This means that you and your spouse entered into your marriage in good faith and not for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
USCIS will review your application carefully to determine if your marriage is legitimate. They will look at various factors, such as:
- How long you have known each other
- How often you communicate with each other
- How much you know about each other’s personal lives
- Whether you have met each other’s families and friends
- Whether you have lived together or shared expenses
- Whether you have children together or plan to have children
- Whether you have joint assets or liabilities
- Whether there are any discrepancies or inconsistencies in your statements or documents
To prove that your marriage is legitimate, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship, such as:
- Photos of you and your spouse together
- Copies of your correspondence, such as emails, texts, or phone records
- Copies of your travel records, such as tickets, itineraries, or stamps
- Copies of your financial records, such as bank statements, tax returns, or bills
- Copies of your legal records, such as leases, insurance policies, or wills
- Affidavits from friends or relatives who know you and your spouse well
Neither of You Is Married to Anyone Else
Finally, to be eligible for a green card based on marriage, you and your spouse must not be married to anyone else. This means that you must have legally ended any previous marriages before getting married to each other.
If you or your spouse were previously married, you will need to provide evidence of the termination of your prior marriages, such as:
- Divorce decrees
- Annulment papers
- Death certificates
If you or your spouse were divorced in a country that does not issue divorce decrees or has different divorce laws than the U.S., you may need to provide additional evidence of the validity of your divorce, such as court records, affidavits from lawyers, or expert opinions.
Are You Looking to Apply for a Green Card Based on Marriage? We Can Help You
Getting a green card based on marriage can be a complex and lengthy process that requires careful attention to detail and accuracy. A single mistake or omission can result in delays, denials, or even deportation. This is why it is advisable to work with a qualified immigration lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you avoid any pitfalls. An experienced lawyer can help you by:
- Evaluating your eligibility and advising you on the best course of action
- Preparing and filing your application and documents with USCIS
- Communicating with USCIS or the U.S. embassy or consulate on your behalf and updating you on the status of your case
- Preparing you and your spouse for the green card interview
- Representing you and your spouse in case of any complications or appeals
At Jurado & Associates, P.A., we have a team of dedicated and experienced immigration lawyers who have helped thousands of clients achieve their immigration goals, and we can help you too. Do not hesitate to contact us today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and schedule an initial consultation with one of our skilled lawyers.