Obtaining a green card, and subsequently, citizenship is possible by marrying a US citizen. However, marriage is imperative is the reality of the relationship. Consulate staff carefully check if the marriage is not fictitious.
There are two options for future spouses:
- A couple may marry first and then the foreign spouse immigrates to the United States.
- However, some people prefer to get married in America. Only an American citizen has the right to bring a future spouse to the United States. A permanent resident cannot petition a groom / bride, only an actual spouse can be brought.
Immigration as bride / groom (K-1 visa)
A US citizen can petition his fiancéto visit the United States for marriage. For this, there is a K-1 visa. After a foreign fiancé enters the United States with a K-1 visa, he or she must marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days or leave the country. This process begins with the filing by a US citizen of Form I-129F, a petition for a foreign bride/groom. After marriage, a K-1 visa holder can change status to permanent resident status. At the end of this process, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a green card to the beneficiary.
Immigration as a spouse (IR1 or CR1 visa)
Another way to obtain a green card is to apply for the entry of a foreign spouse for immigration through marriage. This process begins with the filing by a US citizen or permanent resident of Form I-130, petition for a foreign relative, and Form I-130A, additional information for the beneficiary spouse. The spouse will go through consular clearance and enter the United States on an immigrant visa. Although this is just a stamp at the time of entry, it can be considered the equivalent of a green card. USCIS will send the actual green card to the spouse shortly thereafter.
However, if you are already married and your foreign spouse is physically present in the United States, then another method will apply. Instead, a foreign spouse may want to apply for a green card from within the United States. This is called a status update.
Same-sex spouses of US citizens and permanent residents, including their minor children, are entitled to the same immigration benefits as spouses of the opposite sex. The eligibility for a spouse, fiancé or fiancé, and the eligibility of that beneficiary as an immigrant when applying for an immigrant visa or during the status adjustment phase, will be determined in accordance with applicable immigration law and will not be denied as a result of the same-sex nature of the marriage. In other words, USCIS treats same-sex and opposite-sex marriages equally. However, it is important that the marriage is considered legal in the jurisdiction in which it is contracted.