Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage – Immigration Law MA
Getting married is an exciting time in the lives of any couple. That time of wedded bliss can quickly become an overwhelming and complicated time if the couple does not know what to expect or what steps to take regarding obtaining a green card after marrying a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. The proper lawful steps that need to be taken for each case may vary. Just as every relationship is different so is every immigrant petition.
It is vital that any couple understands a fraudulent marriage, for the sole purpose of obtaining the green card, is against the law and couples found to be perpetrating fraud can face serious criminal consequences.
Filing a Visa Petition
If the spouse filing is a U.S. citizen, that spouse must file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services authorities establishing the relationship of the alien to the citizen. This visa petition form I-130 can include submitting a marriage certificate, birth certificates, and other documents showing co-habitation and shared financial assets. Then, the spouse of the U.S. citizen can concurrently file for their spouse’s adjustment of status. This will entail filing an affidavit of support and other documents. A medical report, employment authorization, and travel document (if applicable) will be dealt with during the adjustment of status process. In an affidavit of support, a petitioning spouse must prove he or she can financially support the intending immigrant. This means submitting tax returns, bank statements, letters from employers, or other proof of income. A date for fingerprinting and an interview will schedules.
If the spouse filing is non-citizen petitioner, or lawful permanent resident, there will be a visa number assigned. This process takes longer than when a U.S. citizen files. A priority date is set. In these cases, the process and submission of documents mostly occurs at a U.S. consulate in the home country. The interview will also be conducted at a U.S. consulate abroad.
In both situations, the interview may be the most intimidating or stressful part of the process. It is a personal process and can be unsettling, even in cases where fraud is not suspected at all. If there are inconsistencies or missteps, a separate interview can be ordered, which can be even more stressful. The interview is the part of the process that can make or break an attempt to gain a green card through marriage. To help ease any concerns of fraud, the couple will want to bring wedding photographs, vacation photographs, and other proof of a shared life together. Typically, couples submit leases, mortgage statements, bank account information from shared accounts, and other documents that show they have a shared life and intend to keep it that way.
Green Card Petition
If a couple petitions for a green card before they have reached their two year wedding anniversary, a conditional green card may be granted. The marriage and validity of the relationship will need to be proven again at the two year anniversary mark. This entails filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions and supporting documents with USCIS. Timely filing is critical. Failure to timely file can be considered a removable (deportable) offense.
Two stipulations couples must be aware of when petitioning for a green card through marriage involve travel outside the country and inadmissibility.
If the intending immigrant spouse if found to be inadmissible, USCIS may determine a waiver of inadmissibility is required. Inadmissibility may result if the intending immigrant spouse committed certain crimes, broke immigration laws, or is found to have committed fraud or misrepresentation upon their entry into the United States.
As the green card process is unfolding in the United States, the intending immigrant seeking the green card typically cannot travel outside of the country. There are however, some cases, wherein the intending immigrant is eligible to file for a travel document.
When the marriage is legitimate and a green card is the goal, most cases go forward smoothly and in a timely manner. If a case has unique circumstances or a couple is unsure of the steps, consulting a skilled and experienced immigration attorney can be the best wedding gift the couple can give each other as they start their lives together in the United States.