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New York Green Card Attorney

Green Card Through Marriage

General Information:
Green card is the right to permanently live and work in the United States.

Green Card Through Marriage is the most popular and fastest way whereby one can obtain green card in the United States. A foreign national can apply for a Green Card Through Marriage only after he gets married with a US Citizen. A fiancé – fiancée relationship cannot create a right to apply for a green card through marriage, but can be the basis for a Fiancé Visa or Fiancée Visa.

If you and your US citizen spouse are residing outside the United States and you cannot apply for a Green Card Through Marriage in the United States you may file an application at the US Consulate in your home country for an Immigrant Visa.

An Immigrant Visa is a Visa issued by a US Consulate for people who have the right for a Green Card and intend to reside in the United States permanently. After entering the United States with an Immigrant Visa the USCIS will mail you the green card to your address in the United States.

If you are in the United States and you are applying for a Green Card Through Marriage you will have to file an application for Adjustment of Status.

Green Card Through Marriage is a two steps process as follow:

The first step toward obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage is for the US Citizen Spouse to file an Immigrant Visa Petition. An Immigrant Visa Petition is a legal document filed submitted to the USCIS and states, inter alia, that you and your US Citizen spouse are legally married to and that the US Citizen spouse wishes to sponsor you for Green Card Through Marriage. Since the spouse of a US Citizen is considered an Immediate Relative, Visa Numbers are always available and the non- may file the application for adjustment of status with the USCIS simultaneously with the Immigrant Visa Petition.

The second step toward obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage is for the non-US spouse to file an application for Adjustment of Status. An application for Adjustment of Status is a legal document filed with the USCIS whereby the non-US spouse is requesting the US government the right to permanently live and work in the United States on the ground that he is legally married to a US Citizen. While you are in the process of adjusting your status you must remain in the United States until the process is completed. You must not leave the US until your green card application is approved. If you leave the United States before your green card application is approved, your green card application will be considered abandoned and may be denied. There are some exceptions to this rule and you may get permission to leave the US, i.e. Advance Parole, for a short period of time in cases of an emergency. All cases of Green Card Through Marriage require personal interview of the husband and wife with a USCIS Adjudication Officer before an approval may be granted by the USCIS.

Frequently asked on Green Card Through Marriage:

How long the process of obtaining Green Card Through Marriage to a US Citizen takes?

The time it takes to obtain a Green Card Through Marriage to a US citizen very much depends on where you live in the United States and the quality of the application you submit. In some areas the process of obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage may take three to five months and in others about a year, for the USCIS to invite you for an interview. The decision whether to approve your application is made at the end of the green card interview; otherwise, you will be notified by mail.

I applied for a Green Card Through Marriage to a US Citizen, can I get an employment authorization?

Yes. Anyone who files a green application, either through marriage to a US citizen or any other grounds may request the USCIS a temporary work authorization, so he may legally work in the United States while his green card application is pending. You should file an application for employment authorization together with your green card application. Within normally 90 days from the date that you filed your green card application, the USCIS will send you an employment authorization card. The employment authorization card allows you to legally work in the United States until a decision on your green card application is made.

If your green card application is approved you no longer need to use the employment authorization card, since the green card provides you with the right to work in the US.

If your green card application is denied you may no longer use the work authorization even if has not yet expired.

I applied for a Green Card Through Marriage, can I get a social security number?

Yes. You may get a social security number. After your application for employment is approved and you received your employment authorization card from the USCIS, you may go to the Social Security Department and file an application for a social security number. After you filed the application for social security number, the social security department should mail you the social security card within two to three weeks.

I applied for a Green Card Through Marriage, can I travel while my application is pending using an Advance Parole?

Any person who is in the process of adjustment of status may apply for an Advance Parole. The Advance Parole is a derivative right to a pending application for adjustment of status and this document allows smooth entry into the United States after a short trip abroad for people whose green card applications are pending with the USCIS.

It is important to note that a person who overstayed his status in the United States by 180 days but less than a year is inadmissible to the United States for a period of three years. Furthermore, a person who overstayed his status in the United States by one year or more is inadmissible to the United States for a period of ten years. This is commonly referred to as the three and ten bar of re-entry. Some people, who nevertheless traveled and are subject to the bar may be eligible for a Waiver of Inadmissibility, but you should not count on that.

Therefore, even if you were granted an Advance Parole by the USCIS you should consult a US Immigration Lawyer before traveling outside the United States.

I entered the United States illegally can I applied for a Green Card Through Marriage?

Any person who entered the United States illegal is bared from filing an application for an adjustment of status under the Immigration and Nationality Act, INA. People who entered the United States illegal are sometimes referred to in immigration terminology as EWI or EWIS, i.e. people who Entered the United States WithoutInspection.

Generally speaking the INA bar EWIs from adjusting status in the United States. There are some exceptions to this rule such as section 245(i) of the INA, filing under the Violence Against Women Act – VAWA, filing applications with the Immigration Court for Cancellation of Removal, Asylum, etc.

I am filing an application for Green Card Through Marriage, does my US Citizen spouse need to file an Affidavit of Support?

Yes, an Affidavit of Support required. As part of the application for your green card your US Citizen spouse must file an Affidavit of Support and prove that s/he is able to financially support you once you get your green card and become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. This is often referred to as Sponsorship, i.e. when filing the Affidavit of Support your US Citizen Spouse is the Sponsor. Your US Citizen spouse’s ability to support you is determined by the Poverty Guidelines (USCIS Form I-864P), which sets the minimum income requirement for use in completing an Affidavit of Support.

The Affidavit of Support is a contract between you, your US Citizen spouse and the US government that allows the US government to sue your US Citizen spouse for reimbursement of money should you, the immigrant, get public benefits from the US government.

The sponsor liability can come to an end when the intending immigrant becomes a US Citizen.

I am filing an application for Green Card Through Marriage and my US Citizen spouse does not meet the minimum income requirement for the Affidavit of Support, can I use a Joint Sponsor?

Yes, you may use a Joint Sponsor. The USCIS permits you to use a Joint Sponsor. The Joint Sponsor is a third party and must be either a US Citizen or a Green Card holder. The Joint Sponsor has to also file Affidavit of Support and states that he, as the Joint Sponsor he will be financially responsible for the immigrant and that as the Joint Sponsor he will financially support the immigrant once he gets his green card and becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States, should the immigrant need financial assistance.

The Joint Sponsor liability can comes to an end when the intending immigrant becomes a US Citizen.

I have Criminal Record can I file an application for Green Card Through Marriage?

Yes. You may file a green card application if you have criminal record. HOWEVER, Criminal Record may be an obstacle and can affect your eligibility to adjust status in the United States and get a green card. Furthermore, you may also get arrested and be placed in Removal Proceedings.

As part of the process of adjusting your status in the United States and becoming a green card holder, the USCIS requires that you be fingerprinted. The fingerprint process allows the USCIS to check your background and if you have criminal record, arrest or convictions it will come up in the background check and your green card application will be at risk and may be denied. In some case you may be eligible to apply for a Waiver of Criminal Conviction. On the other hand, the USCIS may deny your green card application and place you in Removal Proceedings.

Therefore, if you have ever been arrested, cited or stopped by the police either in the United States or anywhere else in the world you should consult with a US Immigration Lawyer before you file your green card application.

I am filing an application for Green Card Through Marriage, do I need to submit a Medical Exam to the USCIS?

Yes. A medical exam must be submitted with the green card application. The USCIS requires that any person who is applying for a green card submit a medical exam from a USCIS Authorized Civil Surgeon. The USCIS requires the Medical Exam in order to determine your admissibility on health grounds. For example, if the Medical Exam reveals that you have a communicable disease you may be inadmissible to the United States.

I am filing an application for Green Card Through Marriage, will the USCIS ask me and my US Citizen spouse to appear for a personal marriage Interview?

Yes. A personal interview is required. The Immigration and Nationality Act states that all applications for green card through marriage to a US Citizen cannot be approved without the immigrant and the US Citizen spouse being interviewed by a USCIS Adjudication Officer. This is called an Adjustment of Status Interview or Green Card Marriage Interview.

The green card Marriage Interview is a procedure whereby the USCIS examine the validity of the marriage. During the green card Marriage Interview the USCIS will try to verify whether you and your spouse entered the marriage in good faith. It is the burden of the immigrant and the US citizen spouse to prove, during the green card Marriage Interview that they did not get married in order to circumvent the immigration laws of the United States, that they got married in good faith and not just for the foreign national spouse to obtain green card and become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

If, during the green card Marriage Interview the USCIS Adjudication Officer suspects that you and your wife got married in order to circumvent the immigration laws of the United States and for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, the USCIS Adjudication Officer will either separate you and your wife and conduct a green card Marriage Interview pursuant to INS v. Stokes, reschedule your green card Marriage Interview to conduct another green card Marriage Interview pursuant to INS v. Stokes on another day or ask you for more documents in order to prove that you married to each other in good faith and not just for getting a green card.

If the USCIS Adjudication Officer finally determines that you and your US Citizen spouse got married in order to circumvent the immigration laws of the United States and for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, the USCIS Adjudication Officer will deny your application. Furthermore, the USCIS may commence Removal Proceedings against you in order to remove you from the US.

In addition, if the USCIS Adjudication Officer determines that you and your wife got married in order to circumvent the immigration laws of the United States and for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card you and your US Citizen Spouse may face up to $250,000 fine and up to 5 years in jail.

I filed an application for Green Card Through Marriage what type of questions the USCIS Adjudication Officer will ask during the Interview?

Generally speaking, the USCIS Adjudication Officer has discretion to ask a variety of questions and this is very much depends on the interviewer. Most of the questions however, will be related to your relationship with your spouse, your marriage life, daily activities and financial record. The USCIS Adjudication Officer may also check your facebook.com and my space profiles if you have one or use other web related sources in order to verify your relationships. A sample list of questions for Green Card Through Marriage interviews may be found at: www.DrImmigration.com.

I filed an application for Green Card Through Marriage can I bring a US immigration lawyer with me to the green card marriage interview?

Yes, you may bring a US immigration lawyer to the green card marriage interview. However, your immigration lawyer cannot answer the questions for you or your spouse. Your immigration lawyer will probably increase your confidence, legally supervise the interview and protect your legal rights during the interview. Also, if for example, the USCIS Adjudicator requests a document from your file your immigration lawyer will normally find it faster than you and may provide a legal explanation for its absence. If you hire an immigration lawyer to come with you to the green card interview, you should ask him or her to study your file beforehand and make sure that you have everything you need, including updated financial documents for the affidavit of support and criminal disposition of arrests or criminal cases you may had in the past.

I filed an application for Green Card Through Marriage, what shall I bring with me to the Interview?

Few weeks before your interview the USCIS will send you an Interview Notice and ask you to appear at a local immigration office for your green card interview. The USCIS Interview Notice will list all the documents and information you must bring with you to the interview. The USCIS Interview Notice normally requires that you bring with you all copies AS WELL AS ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS that were submitted with your application such as: Passport, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate, Divorce and Death Certificates, updated financial documents for the Affidavit of Support, documents showing that you and your US Citizen Spouse have been living together and trust each other, such as utility bills, bank statements and credit card statements and anything else to establish that your marriage are real marriage and that the marriage was entered into in good faith.
You should contact a US Immigration Lawyer in order to prepare your file for the green card marriage interview.
I filed an application for Green Card Through Marriage what will happen if I get divorce or separate from my US Citizen spouse before the interview?

If you get divorce before the green card interview you are no longer entitled to get a green card through your US Citizen Spouse. However, if you (or your child) were subject to Physical, Mental, Sexual or any other type of abuse by your US Citizen spouse, you may be entitled to file a Self Petition and apply for the green card yourself without the US Citizen Spouse knowledge or assistance, under the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA.

You should contact a US Immigration Lawyer in order to advise you whether you are eligible to file a self petition under the Violence Against Women Act, VAWA.

If you are separated and your US Citizen spouse agrees to come with you to the green card marriage interview, your green card application may still be approved, since the USCIS is looking at your intention when you got married. If you can prove that you and your US Citizen spouse got married in good faith you may still get your green card application approved despite the fact that you and your US Citizen Spouse are separated.

I am legally married to my partner can same sex marriage be ground for filing an application for Green Card Through Marriage?

No. Same sex marriages are not yet recognize for US immigration purposes. Although some States do recognize same sex marriage in their internal legal system this is not the case with regard to immigration benefits and in cases of same sex marriage the US citizen partner does not have the right to file an Immigrant Visa Petition to support his other partner’s application for a green card through marriage.

I filed an application for Green Card Through Marriage, why is my green card valid for only two years?

You were probably granted a Conditional Green Card. A Conditional Green Card is a green that is valid for only two years. After two years, the Conditional Green Card holder must file a Petition to Remove his Conditional Residency in the United States and become a Permanent Resident of the United States. The USCIS is granting Conditional Green Cards to people who at the time of their Green Card Marriage Interview are married for less than two years. The Conditional Green Card is a process that the USCIS is using in order for them to have a second chance to check the validity of the marriage.

**This is general information and is NOT intended to provide legal advice.

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