Green Card after Getting Married to a US Citizen
To promote family unity, U.S. immigration law allows a U.S. citizen to petition for his or her spouse to come and live permanently in the United States. If you recently got married to a U.S. citizen, or are considering getting married to a US citizen, there are many issues to consider before applying for your green card.
This article contains some frequently asked questions for you to review before taking that very important step in applying for your green card.
Start a green card application today! Contact immigration lawyer Matthew Porter to discuss how to get a green card after getting married to a US citizen.
For a green card after getting married to a US citizen, what should I do first?
The first issue you should consider is your entry into the United States. If you entered lawfully on a visa, you likely have met the requirement. The legal framework states that you meet the requirement if you were admitted to the U.S. after an inspection by an immigration official. If a legal entry, you can consider adjusting your status to that of a green card holder.
In the immigration laws, admission is defined as the “lawful entry of the alien into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.” INA §101(a)(13), 8 U.S.C. §1101(a)(13); 8 C.F.R. §101.1. The BIA has held that a person is inspected and admitted consistent with the statute and regulation when he presents himself for inspection and makes no knowing false claim to U.S. citizenship. Matter of Quilantan, 25 I&N Dec. 285 (BIA 2010).
How do I prove a valid entry into the US?
The best evidence of a valid entry is your Form I-94. If you entered the U.S. many years ago, you should have an I-94 form stapled in your passport. If you recently entered, you can now obtain a record of your entry (I-94) from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website.
If you entered the U.S. illegally (without inspection), you will most likely have to leave the United States and apply for permanent residency at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad through what is known as consular processing. If you accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence, you will likely have to apply for a waiver to obtain permanent residency.
I entered legally, what do I do next?
The next step is to obtain evidence of your marital relationship and prepare Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Your US citizen spouse will need to file this petition with USCIS to establish that your marriage is bona fide. This process includes filing Form I-130 and evidence of a bona fide marriage. A bona fide marriage means that you entered into the marriage in good faith. If you were getting married to a US citizen for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card, then USCIS may deny your I-130 and could allege marriage fraud. USCIS’s main duty during the I-130 phase is to stop marriage fraud.
Note that if you are present in the United States, you may be eligible for file the I-130 and green card application (Form I-485) at the same time under concurrent filing.
Porter Law Office, LLC will help you complete the I-130, obtain the required evidence to prove your marriage is bona fide, and file the petition with USCIS. Contact our law firm to schedule a consultation to discuss the I-130 process.
My marriage is bona fide, are there any other requirements?
Yes, to obtain the green card, you must file Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status with USCIS. The most important aspect of your green card case is to prove that you are eligible to adjust and that you are not “inadmissible” to the U.S. Generally, to be eligible to adjust status to a green card holder, a visa must be available, you cannot have worked without authorization pursuant to INA 245(c), except if you are an immediate relative (that is, a spouse of a US citizen). Further, you must be lawfully present in the US, again except for immediate relatives – see INA 245(c)(2).
There are many grounds of inadmissibility under INA 212(a) that you need to overcome (for example, health, crimes, controlled substances, prostitution, human trafficking, national security threats and terrorists, Nazi, totalitarian government supporters, individuals who will be a public charge, EWI entry without inspection, misrepresentation, false claims to US citizenship, stowaways, unlawfully present, unlawfully voted). If you have questions on whether you are eligible to file for a green card, contact Porter Law Office, LLC to discuss.
What are the financial requirements?
Your US citizen spouse will need to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, which establishes that you will not become a public charge (that is, apply for food stamps, welfare, or any other government assistance). Your spouse will need income greater than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for the household size. For example, if you have a household size of two, your spouse will need to have current annual income of at least $20,300 as of 2017 (you should check I-864P to determine the poverty guidelines as they do change from time to time).
What if me and my US citizen spouse are unemployed?
In this case, you will need to locate a joint sponsor who must submit an I-864 and meet the financial guidelines in their own right. There are strict rules on who can become a joint sponsor. Schedule a consultation with the experienced immigration lawyer at Porter Law Office, LLC to discuss those rules.
What is the legal effect of signing Form I-864?
If you sign I-864, you are creating a contract with the U.S. government. The consideration for the contract is you becoming a green card holder (known also as a lawful permanent resident). Under the contract, the sponsor is agreeing to allow the U.S. government to consider their income and assets as available for your financial support. The sponsor must provide you with support to maintain your income at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. That is, the U.S. government may consider the sponsor’s income in deciding if you qualify for public benefits. These requirements generally last until you become a US citizen. For more information, review the Form I-864 in detail.
What are the forms and filing fees to apply for a green card through marriage to a US citizen?
Here are the forms and filing fees:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with $535 filing fee*
- Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
- Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status, with filing fee of $1,140 and $85 biometrics fee (total of $1,225)
- Form I-765, Application for Work Authorization (no filing fee if filed with green card application)
- Form I-131, Application for Travel (no filing fee if filed with green card application), and
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
*filing fee as of 12/28/2017. Filing fees frequently change. Check USCIS.gov for current filing fees.
What evidence is required?
You will need proof of your spouse’s US citizenship. You will also need evidence that your marriage is bona fide and any previous marriages have been legally dissolved. The sponsor will need to provide evidence of financial support and you will have to prove that you are eligible to adjust status to that of a green card holder and that you are not inadmissible.
As with most legal processes, the evidence is where the rubber hits the road. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you obtain the required evidence. And, they can help you organize it properly.
Immigration Lawyer in Columbus, Ohio
Legal Representation for Getting Married to a US Citizen
Porter Law Office, LLC assists foreign nationals after getting marriage to a US citizen with securing their green card. Our boutique law firm has vast experience with the green card marriage procedure. If you and your spouse are present in the U.S., and you have questions about how to obtain a green card through marriage, contact Columbus, Ohio immigration attorney today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your family-based green card options.