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A Guide to Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage

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Obtaining a green card through marriage is one of the many ways in which a non-American citizen can gain citizenship and legally reside in the U.S.

A study conducted in 2013 showed that a quarter of all green cards were obtained through marriage [1].

Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage

Yes, it is legal to get your green card through marriage. The USCIS has a petition for these specific cases. Be sure to read more about the immigration forms you need. The most important form needed when applying for a green card through marriage is the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.

If your marriage is legal and in good standing, then there is nothing to worry about, and the marriage interview should be easy as well.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Citizen After Marriage?

After obtaining a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, you must keep follow the rules associated with your green card and ensure you remain in good standing. Once you have reached the 5-year anniversary of receiving your green card, you can apply for naturalization and become an American citizen [2].

You must remain married to the U.S. citizen for at least 3 years to ensure you remain in good standing with your green card [3].

Will You Lose Your Green Card If You Are Divorced?

There is no certain answer for this, and each case has to be evaluated individually. When you get divorced or file for annulment, the USCIS may question how valid your marriage was.

  • Still in the Process of Petition of I-130 – If you are still petitioning for a green card and you are divorced before a green card is issued, you will not have any options and you will likely have to return to your native country.
  • Divorce After Obtaining a Green Card – A divorce does not mean you are automatically deported. If you received permanent residence, you will be allowed to stay in the U.S. after divorce and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship [4]. You should understand the difference between a green card and a citizenship.

Marriage Fraud Penalty

Marriage fraud is one of the many I.N.A grounds for deportation.

If it is discovered that marriage fraud has occurred, the green card will be denied, and the non-citizen will be eligible for deportation. In extreme cases, marriage fraud can also lead to a maximum of five years in federal prison, and a $250,000 fine. Extreme cases include any instances where criminal activity beyond the marriage fraud occurs.

It’s recommended that couples in this situation file for an immigration bond, and either leave on their own will, or find an immigration attorney if they feel that this allegation is false.

 

Sources:

  1. Department of Homeland Security - U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents: 2013 (pdf)
  2. USCIS - Chapter 2 – Marriage and Marital Union for Naturalization
  3. All Law - How to Get Citizenship After Marriage to a U.S. Citizen
  4. USCIS - Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage

 

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