Who is eligible to apply for a marriage green card?
An individual is eligible to apply for a marriage green card, officially known as a “Permanent Resident Card” or “Form I-551,” through marriage to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) under certain conditions. The eligibility criteria include:
- Marriage Relationship: The applicant must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. The marriage must be recognized as valid under U.S. law. Same-sex marriages are also recognized for immigration purposes.
- Genuine Marriage: The marriage must be entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading immigration laws. Immigration authorities scrutinize the marriage to ensure it is not a sham or fraudulent for the sake of obtaining a green card.
- Legal Entry: The applicant must have entered the U.S. legally. If the individual entered without inspection (crossed the border without proper documentation), they might need to pursue a different process called “adjustment of status,” which can have additional requirements.
- Eligible Relationships: U.S. citizens can sponsor their spouses (husband/wife), as well as their unmarried children under 21 years old, for a green card. Green card holders can sponsor their spouses and unmarried children of any age.
- No Grounds of Inadmissibility: The applicant must not have any disqualifying factors, such as criminal convictions, immigration violations, or certain medical conditions that might make them inadmissible to the U.S.
- Affidavit of Support: The U.S. citizen or green card holder sponsor must demonstrate that they have the financial means to support the intending immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public charge. This is typically done through an affidavit of support.
- Evidence of Relationship: Both the U.S. citizen/green card holder and the immigrant spouse must provide evidence of their genuine marital relationship, such as joint financial records, shared assets, photos, communication history, and more.
- Health and Security Checks: The intending immigrant and their family members must pass health and security checks, which can include medical examinations and background checks.
It’s important to note that the eligibility requirements may change, and each case can have unique circumstances. Consulting with an immigration attorney or using official resources from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is highly recommended to ensure accurate and up-to-date information before starting the application process.
How soon after marriage can I apply for a marriage green card?
After getting married to a U.S. citizen, you can generally apply for a marriage-based green card (Form I-485, Adjustment of Status) right away, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria. There’s no specific waiting period required before you can submit the application. However, there are a few important factors to consider:
- Legal Entry: If you entered the U.S. legally, you can typically apply for a marriage green card immediately after marriage. This means you must have entered the U.S. with the appropriate visa or authorization.
- Adjustment of Status (AOS): If you’re already in the U.S. and eligible to adjust your status to that of a permanent resident, you can submit the marriage green card application along with other required forms and supporting documents.
- Form I-130: Before applying for a marriage green card, the U.S. citizen spouse must file an immigrant petition for the intending immigrant spouse using Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once the I-130 is approved, the intending immigrant can move forward with the Form I-485 application for adjustment of status.
- Marriage Certificate: You’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate as evidence of your marital relationship.
- Supporting Documents: Along with the forms, you’ll need to provide various supporting documents to prove the authenticity of your marriage and your eligibility for the green card. These documents can include financial records, joint leases or ownership of property, shared insurance policies, photos together, and more.
- Affidavit of Support: The U.S. citizen spouse will need to submit an affidavit of support (Form I-864) to demonstrate their ability to financially support the intending immigrant and prevent them from becoming a public charge.
- Medical Examination: As part of the green card application process, the intending immigrant will need to undergo a medical examination performed by a designated civil surgeon.
It’s important to keep in mind that while you can apply for a marriage green card immediately after marriage, the processing time for the application can vary depending on factors such as USCIS workload, your location, and any additional processing steps that may be required. Consulting with an immigration attorney or using official USCIS resources can help ensure that you follow the correct procedures and provide the necessary documentation for a successful application.
What documents must be submitted with a marriage green card application?
When applying for a marriage-based green card (Form I-485, Adjustment of Status), you’ll need to submit a variety of documents to support your application and demonstrate the authenticity of your marital relationship. While the specific requirements may vary based on your individual circumstances and USCIS guidelines, here are some common documents that you might need to include:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: This is the main form to apply for a green card through marriage.
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: If the U.S. citizen spouse hasn’t already filed this form, you’ll need a copy of the approved I-130 as evidence of the qualifying relationship.
- Proof of Identity and Legal Entry: This could include a copy of your passport, birth certificate, visa, I-94 arrival/departure record, or other documents showing your legal entry into the U.S.
- Marriage Certificate: A copy of your official marriage certificate as evidence of your marital relationship.
- Passport-Style Photos: Typically, two passport-sized photos that meet USCIS photo requirements.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): Submitted by the U.S. citizen spouse to demonstrate financial support for the intending immigrant. You’ll need to provide evidence of income and assets.
- Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Application (Form I-765): If you want to work while your green card application is being processed, you’ll need to submit this form along with supporting documents.
- Application for Travel Document (Form I-131): If you need to travel outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending, you can submit this form and supporting documents.
- Proof of Legal Status: If you’ve had any prior immigration status in the U.S., provide copies of relevant documents such as visas, I-20s, or I-797 approval notices.
- Proof of Marital Relationship: Documents demonstrating the authenticity of your marriage, such as joint bank account statements, joint lease or mortgage, joint utility bills, photos together, travel itineraries, etc.
- Birth Certificates: Birth certificates for both you and your spouse.
- Divorce or Death Certificates: If either spouse has been previously married, provide divorce decrees or death certificates as applicable.
- Medical Examination: A completed medical examination report (Form I-693) performed by a designated civil surgeon.
- Police Clearance Certificates: If required, police clearance certificates from any country where you’ve lived for a certain period.
Remember that USCIS requirements may change over time, and the documents you need to submit can vary based on your specific situation. It’s highly recommended to review the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney to ensure you provide the correct documents and meet all requirements for your marriage green card application.