A Guide to Applying for a Marriage Green Card in the U.S.
by Saikon Gbehan Isijola, Esq
The Marriage Green Card Application Process
1. Documentation Gathering
The initial step in the marriage green card process involves collecting necessary documentation. The specific documents required vary based on individual circumstances and can be found on the USCIS website. Essential documents typically include proof of the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse’s status, marriage certificate, and financial documents.
2. Filing Form I-130
The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form, which can be filed online or by mail, establishes that there is a bona fide marital relationship between the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the foreign national spouse.
3. Form I-485 and National Visa Center (NVC) Processing
Once Form I-130 is approved, the foreign national spouse can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status if they are currently in the U.S. on a valid visa, along with other necessary forms. However, if the foreign national spouse is outside of the U.S., the file will be transferred to the National Visa Center for further processing.
4. Paying Filing Fees
Both Form I-130 and Form I-485 involve filing fees, payable online or by mail. These fees are essential components of the application process.
5. Medical Examination
The foreign national spouse is required to undergo a medical examination by a USCIS-approved doctor. This examination ensures that there are no health conditions that could affect eligibility for permanent residency.
6. USCIS Interview
The couple may be required to attend an interview with an immigration officer, where they will be questioned about their marriage. This interview is a critical step in verifying the legitimacy of the marital relationship.
7. Green Card Application Decision
After the interview, a decision will be made regarding the status of the green card application. If approved, the foreign national spouse will be granted permanent residency, allowing them to live and work in the United States.
Tips for Navigating the Process Successfully
Take time to gather supporting documents to prove the validity of your marriage. An immigration attorney can help ensure you have all the essential documents required for this process.
Prepare for your immigration interview, if one is required, and emphasize honesty and transparency during the process. Be ready to answer questions about your marriage. Immigration officers will want to know about your relationship with your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse. You’ll likely be asked how you met, how long you have been together, and what your plans are for the future. If you’re working with Attorney Gbehan Isijola, she will conduct mock interviews with you to help you thoroughly prepare.
Next, consult with your immigration attorney to familiarize yourself with important aspects of the process, including:
- Petition Categories: There are two categories for these petitions: spouses of U.S. citizens and spouses of legal permanent residents. Your immigration attorney can help you navigate the process based on your category.
- Wait Times: The estimated wait times for applications vary based on the applicant’s location and the processing times and volume of cases handled by the U.S. Immigration Service Center.
- Path to Citizenship: Marriage green card holders may apply to become U.S. citizens three years after obtaining their green cards. This is often referred to as the “three-year rule.” In case of divorce, a five year wait as a permanent resident is required before applying for citizenship.
Your Partner for Marriage Based Immigration Success
The Law Office of Attorney Saikon Gbehan in Providence, RI, is dedicated to helping couples through this complex process, ensuring that they can reunite and reside together in the United States. Ready to partner with a seasoned Rhode Island Immigration Lawyer? Contact us to begin your journey of achieving a green card through marriage.
To schedule an initial consultation with us today, don’t hesitate to call us now at (401) 228-0001.