With the increase in regulations regarding immigrants, there is a growing difference between a naturalized citizen versus a green card carrier.
In order to get a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States, you must first submit to a medical immigration exam. The purpose of the green card medical exam is to ensure that you are healthy enough to enter the United States.
We deal with a lot of immigrants on a daily basis. Some have adjusted, and others are still finding their way through the U.S., learning as they go. Here is some advice for new immigrants in the U.S. that we hope is helpful.
Congratulations on your marriage! Now that the celebrations have settled, the next step is to apply to become an U.S. citizen. The process related to getting a green card through marriage is long and a little complicated. We have outlined every step and important point here.
Throughout the Green Card application process remember that spouses are considered immediate relatives. You will see this term come up from time to time. Also, remember that marriage does not guarantee a Green Card, you will have to apply and follow each step carefully.
Green Card Marriage Requirements
These legal requirements must be met to be eligible for a Green Card through marriage.
- If your spouse currently lives in the United States, they must have entered the U.S. legally, and be ready to provide proof of entry.
- Your spouse currently lives in the United States legally and all documentation must be current (no expired documentation).
- Marriage must be legal in the country or state in which is was performed. Also, any previous marriage must be legally terminated with a final divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.
- Additionally, some legal marriages do not qualify for immigration status (see polygamy and bigamy below).
*Unlawful or undocumented residence is not permitted. Only under certain circumstances will the USCIS allow an undocumented alien to obtain a Green Card Through Marriage. It is very difficult and complicated. They must return to their country of residence and begin the process.
Green Card and Marriage Timeline (6 – 8 Months)
Once you are legally married, you can begin the process of applying for a Green Card.
- Complete All Immigration Forms (I-130 Package)
You will have to complete and mail the USCIS I-130mailing package. This includes all the forms below. Each form will also require a processing fee. You can pay by check made payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative ($535)
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status ($1,140)
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support ($0)
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record ($85)
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization ($180)
Total costs for a Green Card through marriage range between $1,500 (spouse abroad) and $2,260 (spouse living in the United States).
You will have to complete and mail the USCIS I-130mailing package. This includes all the forms below. Each form will also require a processing fee. You can pay by check made payable to: U.S.
Proof of Legitimate Marriage
You will also need to provide proof that your marriage is legitimate. In most cases submitting a marriage certificate may be enough but you may receive a Request for Evidence (see RFE below) within 2 – 3 months of submission.
You will be required to appear for an interview. An immigration officer will spend a few minutes asking you questions. Do not argue with the immigration officer or attempt to hide anything. At that point, you will be granted conditional permanent resident status.
It may take up to 6 to 8 months for approval. To apply for citizenship or naturalization, you must remain married for at least 3 years after the Green Card was issued.
If you divorce before then, you will be placed on an additional 2-year probation which could jeopardize your Green Card Status and will prolong your naturalization process.
Request for Evidence – Green Card and Marriage Interview
Most immigration fraud is committed through marriage because it’s easy and fast. The USCIS is will scrutinize every Green Card issued through marriage.
It is easy to get a marriage certificate, so that alone will not prove that the marriage is genuine. If the USCIS is questioning the legitimacy of your marriage they will send you a Request for Evidence (RFE).
This request does not mean you have been denied, many people still receive their Green Cards after the RFE and interview process.
The more documentation you have the better. These are examples Bring originals and copies of the following documentation:
- Documents that prove you share finances
- Documents that prove you jointly own physical property
- Documents proving you cohabit the same residence
- Birth certificates of any children
- Affidavits from third parties attesting to the legitimacy of the marriage
Now you will be asked several questions. These questions will be more personal in nature than you might have heard in the initial Green Card interview.
The immigration officer is trying to determine if your marriage is legitimate and so all the questions will be focused on your marriage and your knowledge of each other.
Green Card Interview Suggestions:
- Make copies of all your documents and bring both the copy and original.
- Pack everything you need the night before.
- Leave early and be on time.
- Dress appropriately.
- Stay calm. Immigration officers are not trying to trick you- answer their questions to the best of your knowledge and tell the truth.
Green Card & Marriage – Polygamy & Bigamy
Polygamy: Having more than one spouse at a time. Usually a religious custom.
Bigamy: Intentionally marrying more than one person at a time. Sometimes used to commit immigration fraud.
You can petition for as many immediate relatives as you want but the United States does not recognize polygamy or bigamy, so you will only be able to petition for one spouse.
You may also be denied immigration status if you intend to practice polygamy in the United States because the practice is illegal.
Legal permanent residents can and sometimes are deported for practicing polygamy and bigamy.
If you have accidentally committed bigamy, married someone without the knowledge of a previous marriage, you may have to contact an immigration attorney.