Note about Gay Marriages
Under U.S. law spouses of same-sex marriages have the same immigration rights as opposite-sex spouses. The spouses of same-sex marriages, namely the foreign spouse / U.S. citizen-spouse, including minor children, are now entitled on the same immigration status and benefits as the spouses of opposite sexes. Consular employees and officials of the U.S. Embassy will process the petition, application, petition for a visa (Green Card) after receiving confirmation of I-130 and I-140 petitions from USCIS.
Note about Waiver “Provisional Unlawful Presence”
In March 2013 the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship Immigration (USCIS) started accepting waiver “Provisional Unlawful Presence”, an application form 601A. With this waiver, some of the relatives of U.S. citizens who are illegally in the United States and try to get an immigrant visa, i.e. Green Card, can apply for and get a positive answer to this waiver to fly out of the U.S. on immigration interview at the Embassy of the United States abroad. Not everyone has the right to submit the statement and get a Green Card, there are also certain requirements and restrictions for applicants.
Meaning of “spouse” according to immigration
The spouses are lawfully wedded husband and wife.
- Couples living together for U.S. immigration services do not qualify as legitimate spouses.
- Common-law spouses – for immigration, the couple that observe the principles of legal marriage, but is not officially registered, depending on the country’s legislation, in which the civil marriage takes place.
- In case of polygamous marriage, only the first wife qualifies as a spouse and is entitled to the immigration process. Other wives are not eligible for immigration benefits and immigration process as a whole.
How to Apply for a United States Green Card if Married to a U.S. Citizen
In terms of the application the American citizen will be sponsoring by filing a petition for his foreign national wife or husband. The petition can be filed in the U.S. or in some limited cases the green card through marriage petition can be filed abroad. There are several requirements for both the sponsor and the green card applicant. Once the petition for an immigrant visa is approved them there are many other steps in the process including apply for the actual immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, or if the foreign spouse is present inside the U.S. then it is possible to adjust status to change from a non-immigrant visa into an immigrant visa that will give the right to live in the U.S. and obtain a green card.
Minimum age requirements for the U.S. sponsor
There is no minimum age for applicants (who submits a petition for the spouse). However, the petitioner must be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States, before the Affidavit of Support will be signed. Affidavit of Support is a Form I-864 or Form I-864EZ. This form is required when applying for an immigrant visa (Green Card) for the spouse and other relatives of a U.S. citizen.
Green Card Application
If the petition for the spouse was filed at the time when the applicant was a permanent resident, but now a U.S. citizen, he/she must change the application from the “second preference – F2” to the category “immediate relative – IR”. The applicant may amend the petition by sending proof of U.S. citizenship to the National Visa Center (NVC).
How to change a petition filed on children?
If the petitioner at the time of filing the petition was the owner of Green Card (Legal Permanent Resident – LPR), but is now a U.S. citizen, the applicant must file a petition for an immigrant visa for each child separately. Children born abroad after the applicant became a U.S. citizen, can apply for United States citizenship, instead of receiving a residence – Green Card. Parents have the right to apply for a U.S. passport and consular report of birth abroad of a U.S. сitizen. The official will inform you whether the child is a U.S. citizen automatically, through parents, and whether the child will get a U.S. passport. If the officer will tell you that the child is not a U.S. citizen, you must apply for an immigrant visa, Green Card, and the child will have the right to live in the United States.
Fees. Affidavit of Support. Visa Application.
Once the USCIS approves the petition, the petition is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Then Visa Center assigns the case number and the consideration of the petition. At this stage, you need to fill out form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. National Visa Center (NVC) will start pre-processing of the application and inform the applicant and the candidate about the next steps of the process, including the amount of fees. After the relevant payments will be made, you must provide the necessary documents for an immigrant visa, including the Affidavit of Support, forms, application, registration of marriage and other documents.
Fees when applying for a Green Card
Payment, which is charged for the services listed below:
- Filling and submission of the petition for a foreign family member, USCIS Form I-130
- The process and the processing of an immigrant visa application form DS-260
- Medical examinations and necessary immunizations
Note: When applying for a Green Card you must pay cash fee for each immigrant, regardless of age. This fee is non-refundable and is not taken to the National Visa Center (NVC) or the U.S. Embassy.
Green Card Marriage Package Application Forms that can be found using this Information Package
- Petition for Alien Relative
- Poverty Guidelines
- Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the Act
- E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
- Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
- Choice of Address and Agent
- Case status forms
The applicant’s documents. Read carefully the list of documents which the applicant must provide. Keep in mind that some of the documents must be translated into English. During the interview, the embassy employee may ask you to provide additional information in accordance with your application. Keep a photocopy and original documents that you provided to the National Visa Center (NVC), such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate and other documents translated into English. At the end of the interview, you will be returned the original and translated documents.
Medical Examination Forms. After you have found the doctor who belongs to the list of doctors approved by the U.S. Embassy for the passing a medical examination, you will be given the Green Card certificate (medical certificate) and vaccination card.
Once the National Visa Center (NVC) have all the necessary documents, the applicant will be scheduled the interview. NVC will send the applicant’s necessary documentation to the embassy or consulate in the United States, where the applicant will be invited for the interview. The applicant, a lawyer, or an authorized person will receive e-mail or a letter, in which there will be all the necessary information (date, time and place of interview) and instructions related to the medical examination.
During the interview, the applicant must have a passport, as well as the other above-mentioned documents. In the process, you will make fingerprints. As mentioned earlier, the original documents and translations will be returned at the end of the interview.
Сonditional residence permit
The main difference between a green card and a green card with conditions is that as green card holder with conditions your resident status will expire after two years unless you remove the conditions on your green card, and also the green card itself expires after 2 years. In the case of permanent residents without conditions, their status as a resident usually doesn’t have an expiration date and they can keep their resident status infinitely as long as they continue being eligible to be a US resident. The permanent green card itself might expire (usually in 10 years), but not the permanent resident status, and the process to renew and receive a new permanent green card is relatively easy. Even though the status as a permanent resident doesn’t expire, there are situations when the person is not longer eligible to have a green card and therefore can lose the status.
What if the applicant is not eligible for a Green Card?
Some candidates for Green Card may not be eligible for a residence permit in the United States. The reasons for this can be:
1. Drug trade, use, or drug traffic;
2. An expired visa stay;
3. Giving the false or forged documents.
Embassy officer will tell you if you are not eligible for an immigrant visa, and will provide you the information about the possibility of waiver.
When you try to obtain a U.S. visa illegally, deliberately and fraudulently giving false information, it may lead to a ban on entry to the United States permanently and denial of the U.S. visas.
Visa in passport before the trip to U.S.
After getting an immigrant visa in the Embassy, you will be given a passport with the visa inside, as well as a closed envelope with your documents. Important: You are not allowed to open this envelope. Only upon arrival in the U.S., the immigration officer has the right to open the envelope. You have to come to the United States before the expiry of an immigrant visa (immigrant visa term can be found on the visa). Normally, the visa is valid for 6 months, which means that you have to come to the United States within six months, i.e, until the expiration date of your immigration visa. Green Card holder is required to come to the United States first, either together with the rest of the family.
You must pay a monetary immigration fee USCIS before traveling to the United States. Category of people, which is exempt from the payment – orphans, adopted children, a special category of immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, and residents entering via a return visa SB-1s, or those who have a visa K.
Entry into the U.S. – at the border
Immigration visa allows foreign nationals to come to the United States and to get permission to enter the country at the border . However, those who come should keep in mind that the immigration visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Employees of DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have the right to prevent and prohibit entry into the United States. People who enter should be familiar with the information and the requirements to enter the country. Once you were allowed to enter the U.S. as an immigrant – a permanent resident, your Green Card (Form I-551) will be sent by mail to your address.
How to get Social Security Number?
If you – Permanent Resident – immigrate to the United States for permanent residence, you will want to learn more about your rights and status as a permanent, legal resident. There are a number of requirements and responsibilities to maintain residency, including a limited residence time outside the United States for a long period of time.
Order the Green Card through Marriage package for step by step instructions on how to apply for a green card, including instructions to access and file permanent residence application forms.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the government, we are a private publisher of information guides. This product only includes instructions, it does not include filing fees, or any other charges to submit your application.