Monday, September 27, 2010

Seattle Immigration Lawyer | The Marriage Route to Getting a Green Card

In my last two Seattle immigration lawyer posts, I wrote about the asylum route to a green card. A more common path to obtaining a green card is through marriage to a U.S. citizen or a U.S. green card holder (officially called a lawful permanent resident, which is known in immigration lingo as an “LPR”). What follows is only a brief overview of the process but it should provide a taste of what to expect. (You should of course consult with an immigration lawyer regarding your specific situation.) You will see that it is much easier, and, more importantly, much faster, if the petitioning spouse is a U.S. citizen. This is because there is no waiting period for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (which include spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21).

Before I run through a few scenarios to describe the process, you should know that some immigrants are simply not eligible for adjustment of status (becoming a permanent residence). In a future article, I will discuss some of the grounds for inadmissibility and whether waivers exist for them. For now, readers should be aware that there are a plethora of these grounds, some obvious, such as if your last entry to the U.S. was illegal, and others less obvious, and you will want to figure out if one applies to you. If one does, you’ll definitely want to consult with an experienced immigration attorney about your particular case.

Regardless of your situation, the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse will need to prepare the visa petition. This includes: the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; Form G-325A, Biographic Information (one form for each spouse); photos of the petitioner (U.S. citizen or LPR) and beneficiary (immigrant); proof that petitioner is U.S. citizen or LPR; proof of a valid marriage, including a marriage certificate, and if there’s a previous marriage for either spouse proof that it was terminated; and filing fee of $355.

Living In U.S. & Married to U.S. Citizen

Now, in the case of an immigrant already living in the U.S. and married to a U.S. citizen, the U.S. citizen, as in all of these cases, starts the ball rolling. In this situation, the U.S. citizen submits the visa petition (see I-130 and other documents above) simultaneously with the immigrant spouse’s permanent resident application (Form I-485). Note that I-485 is filed at a different location than the I-130, so read the instructions! (Reading the instructions for any immigration form is a must, along with making sure that you have the most up to date version.) The I-485 will include, among other documentation, a medical report and an affidavit of support (Form I-864).

Once USCIS receives the I-130 and I-485, the immigrant will receive a fingerprint appointment notice, and then an interview appointment notice. Since both the U.S. citizen and immigrant spouse are in the U.S. in this scenario, both must be at the interview. The key issue at the interview is proving that the marriage is not a sham. The intricacies of proving a bona fide marriage will be the subject of a future article. Hopefully, the application for permanent residence will be granted at the interview. (Note that a conditional residence will be granted if the marriage has been for less than 2 years by the time the interview occurs.)

Stay tuned for my next article that will cover how to get a green card for an immigrant living abroad who is married to a U.S. citizen.


  1. Some people will want to seek professional help as soon as they see the mountain of forms, checklist and supporting documents needed. The forms used for adjustment of status based on marriage in USA can also be used for other adjustment applications, hence the confusion and the likelihood to make mistakes. Any mistake in the form can return the case back to you, resulting in delays and even denials.They can apply for K1 Fiance Visa.

  2. Buffalo family law and divorce lawyer Linda M. DiPasquale is dedicated to helping the people of Buffalo with their family law issues. Las Vegas divorce attorneys

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  4. it can be achieved either by expressed announcement that leaves no doubt other than it, immigration lawyer San Diego

  5. I don't want to be paid to marry someone so they can get a green card just want to find someone attractive to me. Seeking any help or suggestions.