Common Documents Required for a Marriage Green Card Application

Marriage green card eligibility

Eligibility for a marriage green card, also known as Adjustment of Status, is determined by several factors, including the relationship between the petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse) and the beneficiary (foreign national spouse), as well as meeting specific immigration requirements. Here are the key eligibility criteria for obtaining a marriage-based green card:

  • Valid Marriage Relationship: The petitioner and beneficiary must be legally married to each other. Common-law marriages and same-sex marriages that are legally recognized are also eligible.
  • Petitioner’s Legal Status: The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to sponsor their foreign spouse for a marriage-based green card.
  • Bona Fide Marriage: The marriage must be genuine and not entered into for the purpose of evading immigration laws. USCIS will scrutinize the relationship to ensure its authenticity.
  • Entry with Inspection: In most cases, the beneficiary must have entered the U.S. with inspection (such as a valid visa or other authorized entry), with some exceptions for specific cases.
  • Eligibility Category: The beneficiary’s eligibility category (immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or family-sponsored preference category) will determine the availability of visa numbers and the timing of the process.
  • Physical Presence in the U.S.: The beneficiary generally needs to be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • I-130 Petition Approval: The U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and have it approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the beneficiary can proceed with the green card application.
  • Financial Support: The petitioner must demonstrate the ability to financially support the foreign spouse by submitting Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, or having a joint sponsor who meets the income requirements.
  • Criminal and Immigration History: Both the petitioner and beneficiary must have a clean criminal history and not be subject to certain grounds of inadmissibility under U.S. immigration law.
  • Health and Medical Examination: The beneficiary is required to undergo a medical examination by a designated panel physician to ensure they are not inadmissible on health-related grounds.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s recommended to visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or consult with an experienced immigration attorney before proceeding with any marriage-based green card application.

How to apply for a marriage green card?

Applying for a marriage-based green card involves several steps to adjust the status of the foreign spouse from a nonimmigrant status to a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). Here’s an overview of the process:

  • File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative:
    • The U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse (petitioner) starts the process by filing Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the qualifying family relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse (beneficiary).
  • Wait for Form I-130 Approval:
    • USCIS will process the Form I-130 petition. Once approved, you will receive a notice of approval. This step confirms the eligibility of the petitioner and beneficiary and establishes the foundation for the green card application.
  • Priority Date and Visa Bulletin:
    • Depending on the visa category and the beneficiary’s country of origin, there might be a waiting period due to numerical limitations. The priority date assigned to the Form I-130 petition will determine when the beneficiary can proceed with the next steps.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing:
    • After Form I-130 is approved and a visa number becomes available, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). You’ll need to choose an agent (typically the petitioner) and pay the required fees.
  • Submit Affidavit of Support (Form I-864):
    • The petitioner submits Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to demonstrate the ability to financially support the foreign spouse and prevent them from becoming a public charge.
  • Complete Form DS-260 and Gather Documents:
    • The foreign spouse completes Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, and gathers supporting documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, police certificates, and other required materials.
  • Consular Interview:
    • The foreign spouse attends an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. During the interview, they provide documentation and answer questions to determine their eligibility for an immigrant visa.
  • Visa Issuance and Entry:
    • If the consular officer approves the immigrant visa application, the foreign spouse receives an immigrant visa in their passport. This visa allows them to travel to the U.S. and apply for admission as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
  • Adjustment of Status (Optional):
    • If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, they might have the option to adjust their status to permanent residency through USCIS instead of consular processing.
  • Receive the Green Card:

It’s important to understand that the marriage-based green card process can be complex, with variations based on individual circumstances and changes in immigration laws. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that you navigate the process correctly and meet all requirements for successfully obtaining a marriage-based green card.

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