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How To File For Marriage Based Green Card

Author: Marriage Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

One of the most common types of Immigration cases every practitioner encounters is an application for an immigration status based on marriage. These application can be sorted out to two main groups: applications based on marriage based to a U.S. citizen (a USC) and applications based to a marriage to a green card holder (or lawful permanent resident, LPR).

First, a USC or an LPR who just got married and would like to sponsor their spouse, need to have a plan of action based on where their spouse is located: in the United States, or overseas. If their spouse is in the United States, the couple should consult with an attorney to see if the non-resident spouse can adjust or obtain permanent resident status without leaving the United States. Usually, if the non-resident spouse entered the country legally, he/she will be able to receive a green card without leaving the US if he/she married a US citizen. If the other spouse is an LPR, the non-resident might have to wait for the spouse to become a USC, or will have to leave the country and get an Immigrant waiver and an Immigrant visa. However, in every case of somebody who has resided in the US for a long time and now decided to leave the country to “fix” the Immigration status, such a person need to consult with an Immigration attorney before leaving. A simple consultation may say years of separation and grief.

If one who is in the US is married to a USC, then, in most cases, a couple will be able to resolve all Immigration issues without having to be separated. In this case, a couple will have to file an adjustment package: forms I-130, I-1485, i-765, I-864, G325A and supporting documents. The couple will have to pay applicable fees as well. Currently, these fees are $1070 and $420.

If one married to a USC or a green card holder and is now located outside the US, the US based spouse will have to start the process by filing an I-130 form with applicable documents. Then, the US based spouse will have to continue the process, by working with the NVC and consulate. The spouse who is overseas will be able to apply and receive an Immigrant visa first, and upon arrival to the US, he/she will be issued an actual “green card.”

Whether the non-citizen received green card overseas or in the United States, if the marriage to a US citizen is less than two years old at the time of the immigrant visa application (adjustment of status), the non-citizen will get only a temporary or conditional permanent residency. The condition will have to be removed for the immigrating spouse to be able to get a permanent resident card and qualify for naturalization (citizenship).

If one decided to handle the process him/herself, he/she should first review the forms and instructions and visit the NVC website that explains the steps for those whose spouses are overseas.

18 April 2016
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