Marriage-Based Green Card
Getting a marriage-based Green Card is generally a two-step process. The sponsoring family member (such as the spouse) submits a petition — known as Form I-30, a Petition for an Alien Resident. This is used to establish a qualifying family relationship.
The next step, once the relationship is established, is for the immigrant spouse to file Form I-485, an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. It’s important to note that in many cases, form I-130 and form I-485 can be filed at the same time. After filing the petition and no further documentation is requested, the USCIS will summon the immigrant spouse to have photographs and fingerprints taken.
The Adjust of Status (AOS) Interview
After the fingerprinting and photographing of the immigrant spouse, the couple will be called in for an interview to verify the validity of their marriage and establish the immigrant spouse’s eligibility for a Green Card. The couple should bring along bank statements, lease agreements, wedding pictures, or any other document that can help verify the marriage.
A big caution here is that the USCIS might accuse the immigrant spouse of visa fraud. If the spouse entered the U.S. on a tourist visa or visa waiver for the sole purpose of getting married to obtain resident status, the agency may deny the petition due to visa fraud — especially if the marriage took place within 90 days of arrival. In the case of denial, another form to request a waiver or forgiveness for visa fraud would have to be submitted.
If all goes well during the interview, the spouse’s passport will be stamped, providing a 30-day provisional Green Card. A permanent Green Card should arrive within 60 days.
Other Potential Complications and Roadblocks
All of the above assumes that the immigrant spouse lives with you in the United States and arrived in the U.S. legally.
If your spouse is still living abroad, other processes, such as obtaining a K-1 visa, come into play. If your spouse entered the country illegally — that is, was not seen and “inspected” by an officer of Customs and Border Protection — he or she loses the right to adjust status and cannot file Form I-485.
In this case, the immigrant spouse may be required to leave the United States to the country of their origin and apply for a visa and green card at a U.S. consulate abroad. Unfortunately, the consulate may find the spouse to be inadmissible to the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Having been in the U.S. illegally is one such basis for determining inadmissibility, as is the presence of a communicable disease or having a criminal record, among other factors.
However, the requirement to return home and start the process at a U.S. consulate abroad can be waived through the successful submission of Form I-601A — Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver — based on the likelihood of “extreme hardship” besetting the sponsoring U.S. family member. Our attorneys at The Torres Law Firm can help you with this step, and answer any questions you may have.
Don’t Face Your Citizenship Case Alone
As you can see, while it is possible to file all of the forms on your own for family sponsorship of residency, you can still face a number of different hurdles and reversals along the way. It’s best to be fully prepared from the beginning by submitting verifiable supporting documents with your petition.
Here at The Torres Law Firm, we can help you identify and assemble the necessary documents, and any other forms of evidence, that can help move the process forward by averting requests for clarification or additional documentation by the USCIS. We can also prep you for the extremely important AOS interview.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to go through this process alone. You can face a long and circuitous process if you fall short of what the USCIS is looking for, which can only prolong the day that your spouse can become a lawful permanent resident.