Congratulations on your marriage! It’s one of the happiest occasions in life. While you may still be celebrating your nuptials, there are some things you will need to do to obtain a green card through marriage for permanent residency.
Petition for Alien Relative
If your spouse is a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, they will need to complete a Petition for Alien Relative. Once completed, the form is submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of the form is to confirm the relationship between you and your spouse as well as determine eligibility to apply.
This process can be complicated so it's critical that all paperwork is completed correctly. Without proper completion and supporting documentation, it could delay the process, which is why it’s important to seek the guidance of an immigration attorney.
The Green Card Application
Once you have completed and submitted the petition, the next step is to file an application for a green card. The green card application process is handled differently for those who live in and outside the U.S.
- If you live in the U.S. you will apply for a green card through an adjustment of status. If you are out of status, you may still be able to apply for an adjustment, providing that you have been previously admitted to the country lawfully. Note that you can concurrently file your Petition for Alien Relative if you are eligible and save many months of processing time. That is why it is critical to have the matter handled by a skilled immigration lawyer.
- If you live outside the U.S. you will apply for a green card by obtaining an immigrant visa. An immigrant visa allows an individual to become a permanent resident immediately upon entry into the U.S. Once your spousal petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for further processing, and finally, an embassy closest to your spouse.
While the green card process can begin at theonset of your engagement, you and your spouse must provide proof that the marriage isn’t based on the pretense of obtaining a green card. You may be asked to provide the following shared financials as evidence of an authentic marriage:
- Financial liabilities
- Tax filings
- Birth certificates of children who were born into the marriage
Part of the process also includes submission of supporting documents with your application, such as a marriage certificate as well as:
Proof of status - This may include — U.S. birth certificate, passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, consular report of birth abroad, a copy of green card or other proof of permanent residency.
Proof previous marriages have been terminated - If you or your spouse have been previously married, you will need to submit documentation showing that prior marriages have been terminated. For example, a divorce decree, or a death certificate if a former spouse is deceased.
The Interview Process
You and your spouse will also be asked to participate in an interview conducted by a USCIS officer (in the United States) or a consular officer (if your spouse is living abroad). The purpose of the interview is to assess whether or not your marriage is genuine. The interview process can be intimidating, especially if you are unsure about what to expect. Having an experienced immigration attorney at your side can help prepare you for the interview ahead and relieve your worries and stress.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with obtaining a green card through marriage or any other family-based immigration matter, Yekrangi & Associates can help. Don’t take on your immigration case alone. Our team of experienced immigration attorneys know how to navigate the murky waters of immigration and will help you every step of the way. Contact us today at (949) 478-4963 to learn more about how we can assist you.