Each year over 450,000 United States citizens marry foreign nationals and petition for them to have permanent residence. As immediate relatives, there is no limit to the number of green cards given to spouses. We have all heard of people looking for love just to gain citizenship quickly and due to a history of fraud in this category, applicants are scrutinized. While only a U.S. citizen can bring a fiancé(e) to the United States, both a citizen and a permanent resident can bring a spouse to live and work permanently in the United States.
The following steps outline the process for getting your spouse permanent resident status:
The U.S. citizen or permanent resident must petition for his/her spouse to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-130. Form I-130 is proof of you marriage. The U.S. citizen will also have to prove he is a U.S. citizen. Form G-325A details biographic information about both spouses and photos will have to submit of both spouses as well (photo requirements are the same for all green cards as detailed in the green card overview).
Once the petition is approved, the immigrant must wait for an immigrant visa number. If you marry a U.S. citizen, you are considered an immediate relative and the wait is only as long as the administrative process. If, however, you marry a Lawful Permanent Resident, you will be placed in category 2A of the family visa category and you may have to wait several years depending on the number of people from your home country also waiting for visas in that category.
Similar to all other types of green cards, the immigrant spouse will have to attend a medical examination and submit biometric information.
The petitioning spouse will also have to submit an affidavit of support which guarantees the United States government that you and spouse can financially support yourselves and your family. The spouse already in the United States has to prove the household income is enough to support the entire family at 125% or more above the U.S. poverty level for your family's size. The income requirement changes with inflation.
If you receive a green card before your second wedding anniversary, the green card you receive will be a conditional green card which will require a request for the conditions to be removed after two years from the receipt of your initial green card. In order to get your initial green card, you must appear for an interview.
Whether both spouses are in the U.S. when you apply for a green card, or whether immigrant spouse is not in the U.S., you will both have to appear for an interview with either immigration officials or a consular officer. You and your spouse must present evidence that you have lived together for the two years since your marriage and offer proof of a bona fide marriage. The following documents will help you prove you and your spouse were living together for two years:
The director of regional services in the area where you live will determine whether a personal interview is necessary or should be waived.
If you marry a U.S. citizen, each of your children must apply separately as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen. The U.S. citizen must file a Form I-130 for each child. It is best if the U.S. citizen puts all the petitions in one packet so they are reviewed together.