Yes, you can. To obtain a green card based on marriage to a US citizen, your US citizen or lawful permanent spouse must sponsor you, and you must complete extensive documentation yourself and a medical exam. Depending on where you live, you will have to either adjust your immigration status in the US or apply for an Immigrant Visa to enter the US. You might need to retain a green card based on marriage lawyer NYC for your application to be successful.
To adjust your status inside the United States to a green card based on marriage, your application must be submitted and approved by the by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process is complex, and many potential pitfalls await those who attempt to complete the process without the assistance of a green card marriage lawyer NYC.
A “green card” is a physical card proving that you have obtained permanent residence status in the United States. If you hold an unconditional green card you can live and work in the US for the rest of your life with no further immigration processing, and you can even apply for US citizenship after a certain number of years. A green card marriage lawyer NYC can help you all the way up to your citizenship application.
The first part in obtaining a green card through marriage is for the US citizen spouse to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Form I-130 states that you two are legally married, and that your US citizen spouse wishes to sponsor you for a green card through marriage. Since you are considered to be the immediate relative of your spouse, you will not have to wait for a visa number to become available before you can obtain permanent residence.
The part in a green card through marriage process is for the non-US spouse is to file Form I-485, Adjustment to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Form I-485 is a document you file with the USCIS whereby you ask the US government for the right to permanently live and work in the US on the ground that you are legally married to a US citizen. A green card marriage lawyer NYC may be necessary to property file both of these documents.
Normally, you can file Form I-485 at the same time that your spouse files Form I-130 and you must remain in the US until the green card approval process is completed. If you do, your green card application will be considered abandoned and can be denied on this basis. Advance Parole, however, is a limited exception to this rule that allows you to leave the US during the green card process for s short period of time.
Depending on your circumstances, you will need some or all of the following documents to prepare your application for a green card based on marriage to a US citizen:
You may be asked to produce other documents as well — Form I-212, for example, if you have ever been deported from the US or an I-601 Waiver if you are inadmissible due to fraud or criminal activity. As the applicant (rather than the US citizen spouse), you will be fingerprinted. Retaining a green card marriage lawyer NYC could greatly simplify the process of obtaining these documents in the form that US immigration authorities demand.
Your application might be rejected for a number of reasons, some of which are described below:
The “Public Charge” Barrier
To enter the US on an Immigrant Visa, or to adjust status to permanent resident while residing in the US, you will have to establish that you will not depend primarily on state or federal government financial benefits, such as welfare or food stamps, while you are in the US. In other words, you will not become a public charge. Your sponsor must complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and you will have to complete Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, to prove that you will be financially self-sufficient while in the US.
You are not necessarily barred from receiving any government benefit while you are in the US. The rules are complex, and you should speak with a green card marriage lawyer in NYC if you anticipate needing to apply for any government benefits.
You will be required to submit to a medical exam with a local USCIS-approved doctor (known as a Designated Civil Surgeon), before your green card application will be approved. Some of these doctors are non-Americans who reside overseas.
Your application could be denied if your examination shows that you have contracted a communicable disease. Not all communicable diseases will result in rejection of your application, however – HIV, for example, was recently removed from this list, such that you can enter and remain in the US even if you are HIV positive.
The USCIS will consider your marriage fraudulent if they believe that it was entered into solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. A green card based on marriage lawyer NYC can help you put together the supporting documents that establish the legitimacy of your marriage.
A marriage is considered fraudulent if the prospect of receiving US immigration is the only reason that you married your spouse, or if there was a financial quid pro quo involved. Marriage fraud, and attempted marriage fraud can result in criminal penalties.
Certain other “grounds for inadmissibility” can result in your application being denied, regardless of whether you apply from inside or outside the US. Some of these grounds, such as illegal immigration status, can be waived under certain circumstances, while others cannot be. You cannot enter or remain in the US, for example, if you are a drug addict or a drug trafficker, and these particular grounds for inadmissibility cannot be waived.
A Waiver Immigration Lawyer NYC can help you prepare and file a Waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility.
There are two main ways of immigrating to the US with a US citizen partner if you reside outside the United States:
Although no guarantees can be made, the average application processing time takes anywhere from 5-13 months from mailing your completed application until you receive your green card based on marriage. Don’t count on these numbers, however — many variables are involved, including shifting political winds.
Some of the variables include which State you live in, and the quality of the application you submit to the USCIS. The decision of whether to approve your application is normally made at the end of the green card interview; otherwise, you will be notified by mail. It is helpful to have the process done with a green card based on marriage lawyer NYC.
Recently it has been taking longer and longer to complete the process, and it will obviously take longer if you don’t file Form I-130 and Form I-485 simultaneously. The timeline could be even extended even further if the sponsor is a US permanent resident rather than a US citizen, as is often the case.
When you calculate your total expenses for obtaining a green card based on marriage, you will need to consider three components: (i) official fees, (ii) out-of-pocket expenses and (iii) the fees you pay your green card marriage lawyer NYC.
While the total expenses will be significant, the benefits of a successful application will last a lifetime. Below is a listing of the relevant official fees as of August 2020. Remember that these fees could change at any time:
Yes. Anyone who files a green card application, either through marriage to a US citizen or on other grounds, may request a temporary work authorization to legally work in the US while their green card application is pending. You should file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, together with your green card application package to receive employment authorization as soon as possible.
The USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) within approximately 4 to 7 months of the date that you filed Form I-765. Your EAD will allow you to work in the US until a decision on your green card application is made. If your green card application is approved, you will be able to work without an EAD, since a green card carries with it the right to work. If your green card application is denied, you may no longer use your EAD even if it has not yet expired.
Yes, you will be eligible for an SSN. After your application for employment is approved and you receive your EAD from the USCIS, you can go to your local Social Security office and file an application for an SSN. After you file your application for an SSN, the Social Security Administration should mail you your Social Security card within two to three weeks. Keep your SSN a secret, because otherwise you could become a victim of identity theft.
Anybody who enters the US illegally is barred from filing an application for an adjustment of status under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). People who entered the US illegally are sometimes referred to in immigration terminology as EWI or EWIS, i.e. people who Entered the United States Without Inspection.
Normally, the INA bars EWIs from adjusting status in the US. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, such as:
It wouldn’t be a good idea to make any concrete travel plans. If you have accrued 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence in the US, you will be subject to a three-year bar to re-entering the US. If you accrued one year or more of unlawful presence, you will be subject to a ten-year bar to re-entering the US. Although these bars can be waived under certain circumstances, you should not count on a waiver. These bars do not apply however, if you leave the US after your Advance Parole Document has been approved and you use it to re-enter the US.
If you have accrued any unlawful presence at all, you should consult a green card lawyer NYC before leaving the US, even if the USCIS has already granted you Advance Parole – it could be fatal to try to use it to re-enter the US.
https://www.uscis.gov/i-864pYes, Form I-864, Affidavit of Support is required. Your US citizen spouse must file an Affidavit of Support as part of your green card application to prove that s/he is able to financially support you in the US. 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 an Affidavit of Support will be accepted.
The Affidavit of Support works like a contract between you, your US citizen spouse and the US government, which allows the US government to sue your US citizen spouse for reimbursement if you receive public benefits from the US government. This financial liability comes to an end only when you become a US citizen or are credited with 10 years of work. Divorce does not end the sponsorship obligation.
Yes, you may use a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor must act as a third party (your spouse still must accept liability as a co-sponsor), and he or she must be a US citizen or a green card holder. The Joint Sponsor must file a second Affidavit of Support that renders him or her financially responsible for you just as your spouse is.
Yes, you may file a green card application even if you have criminal record. Nevertheless, your criminal record might be an obstacle – depending on its seriousness, it could definitely affect your eligibility to adjust status in the US and obtain a green card. You could also be placed in removal proceedings (deportation). A Criminal Immigration Lawyer NYC could become absolutely necessary at this point.
As part of the process of adjusting your status in the US and becoming a green card holder, the USCIS requires that you be fingerprinted. The fingerprinting known as Biometrics allows the USCIS to check your background and determine if you have criminal record, arrests or convictions. Your criminal record will be revealed in this background check and your green card application will be at risk of denial. In some cases, however, you may be eligible to apply for a Waiver of Criminal Conviction.
If you have ever been arrested, cited or stopped by the police either in the US or anywhere else in the world, filing a green card application could be risky, because you could end up worse off then when you started – not only with a denial of your application, but potentially removal proceedings as well. If you have any criminal record, consult with a green card marriage lawyer NYC before you file a green card application.
Yes, a personal interview is required, and both of you must attend. The Immigration and Nationality Act states that all applications for green card through marriage to a US citizen can be approved only if the immigrant and the US citizen spouse are both interviewed by a USCIS Adjudication Officer. This interview is commonly referred to as an Adjustment of Status Interview or the marriage green card interview.
During the interview, the USCIS officer will examine whether you entered the marriage in good faith. The burden of proof lies with you and your spouse to prove that your marriage is legitimate. If, during the interview the officer suspects that your marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits, the officer will either:
If the USCIS ultimately concludes that your marriage is illegitimate, your application will be denied, and removal (deportation) proceedings may be initiated against you. In a worst-case scenario, criminal proceedings may be initiated against one or both of you. A criminal conviction for green card marriage fraud can result in a fine of up to $250,000, five years in jail, or both.
The purpose of a green card marriage interview is to ensure that your marriage is not fraudulent. In a green card based on marriage interview the officer will ask you questions that perhaps only a spouse would know the answers to. There is no definitive set of interview questions — the possibilities are endless. If you are interviewed separately, you both may be asked personal questions and your answers will be compared for consistency.
Common questions include:
A few weeks before your marriage green card interview takes place, the USCIS will notify you of your interview, which probably will take place at a local immigration office. The notice will list all the documents and information you must bring with you. The notice normally requires that you bring both original documents and copies of documents such as:
You can contact a green card marriage lawyer NYC to help you prepare for the interview and review the documents you have in support of your case.
Yes, you may bring a US immigration lawyer to the green card marriage interview. Nevertheless, your lawyer cannot answer the questions for you or your spouse. The presence of your immigration lawyer can bolster your confidence and protect your legal rights during the interview. Additionally, in case the USCIS officer requests a document from your file, your green card lawyer NYC can probably find it faster than you can or, if it is absent, provide a better explanation.
If you hire an immigration lawyer solely to accompany you to your green card interview, you should ask him examine your files in advance to determine whether you have everything you need, including updated financial documents for the Affidavit of Support and other documents such as your criminal record.
Granting a green card to an applicant is thought of as a service that the US government provides to the US citizen spouse, not the foreign spouse. As such, you normally cannot obtain a green card based on marriage if you divorce before your green card is issued – even with the support of your ex-spouse.
An exception to this general rule is that if you or your child were subjected to physical, mental, sexual or any other type of abuse by your US citizen spouse, you may be entitled to self-petition for a green card under the Violence Against Women Act without your US Citizen ex-spouse’s knowledge or assistance. You should contact a VAWA immigration lawyer NYC in order to advise you whether you are eligible to self-petition.
If you two are separated (but not yet divorced) and your US citizen spouse agrees to accompany you to the green card marriage interview, your green card application might still be approved, since the USCIS will be looking at your intentions at the time you got married, not the state of your marriage now. If you can prove that you married in good faith, the green card application might still be approved.
The consequences of a divorce are likely to depend largely on which type of permanent residence card you hold at the time of your divorce. There are two different types of “permanent” residence cards — conditional permanent residence card and permanent residence card.
You will be granted conditional permanent residence if you were married less than two years on the date your green card application is approved. In this case, you will need to complete a second immigration application to remove your conditional residency two years later to have the condition removed and get the permanent card. If you were married two years or more on the date your green card application is approved, no further application is required, and you will receive a permanent green card.
Normally, both spouses must sign Form I-751 and you need to file a joint petition to remove your conditional residency and become a permanent residence. If you are divorced, separated or in the process of divorce you may apply for a waiver of the joint filing.
If you get divorced after obtaining Permanent or unconditional Green Card, no further immigration applications or interviews will be required. Consequently, it is unlikely that US immigration authorities will even know of your divorce.
If you later apply for citizenship, however, USCIS will probably look back at your immigration file. If they discover your divorce and suspect that your marriage was not legitimate in the first place, they can deny your citizenship and revoke your green card.
Yes, same sex marriage are legal in the US and are considered legitimate for immigration and green card cases. A problem arises, however, when your spouse resides in a country where same sex marriage is illegal, or where homosexuality is illegal or strongly ostracized. In such places you will not be able to marry your partner, and you may be forced to keep your relationship so secret that you cannot even prove a fiancé relationship to US immigration authorities. A green card marriage lawyer NYC can help you prove your relationship.
Some people present themselves as “visa consultants” or “notarios,” who are able to fill out immigration forms on behalf of people who cannot speak or write English very well. Unfortunately, many of these people fail to recognize the complexities of US immigration law, and they end up making decisions that could ruin your chances of obtaining a green card and in many times you may end in deportation proceedings.
Make sure you are dealing with a real green card based on marriage lawyer NYC who is a member of the New York State Bar Association.
Likewise, just as you would not ask a dermatologist to perform open-heart surgery on you, you shouldn’t ask a trusts and estates lawyer to handle an immigration matter for you. Make sure your lawyer practices primarily or exclusively in the area of immigration law. He or she should also be a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
**This is general information and is NOT intended to provide legal advice.
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