Marriage Green Card Lawyer
There are two ways to obtain a marriage based green card. First, you can process a spousal green card completely from within the United States. Second, you can petition for a marriage based permanent residence through a consular office abroad. A lawyer can help in both cases by using their experience with the green card process to ensure your petition is completed and filed correctly. An attorney will look out for any potential problems in your case. Additionally, a lawyer will prepare you for, and attend your bona fide marriage interview.
Marriage Green Card through Adjustment of Status
The process for obtaining a green card through marriage varies depending on whether your spouse is currently residing in the United States. If a US Citizen petitions for a spouse while the spouse is in the United States, they apply for adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, in order to obtain a green card by marriage to a US citizen in this manner, it is necessary that the intending immigration have entered the United States on a lawful visa. If the intending immigrant entered illegally, it will not be possible to process your marriage based green card petition within the United States, and you will need to petition for a waiver of your unlawful presence.
When you file for adjustment of status based on marriage to a United States Citizen, all of the forms and supporting documents are filed at once. This is because marriage to a US citizen results in the immigrant’s classification as an ‘immediate relative’ under immigration law, and a visa is therefore immediately available. Because all of the forms and documentation are filed at once, attorneys often refer to a marriage based adjustment of status green card petition as a ‘one-step.’ In contrast, when a green card holder petitions for their spouse, a visa would not be immediately available. You would need to wait to proceed with your case, typically for more than a year after the filing date.
Immigration Forms for a Marriage Based Adjustment of Status Green Card
You will prepare and submit the following forms in your petition for a marriage based green card:
G-325A Biographic Information
The G-325A is a detailed biographical form that both the US citizen and immigrant spouse must prepare and file with your application for a green card. It lists information such as employment history and past addresses as well as biographical information such marriage date and whether either party was previously married.
I-130/I-130A Petition for Alien Relative
The I-130 and I-130A are filed by the US citizen, known in this case as the ‘petitioner,’ to establish with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service the US citizen’s relationship to their immigrant spouse. They include information about both the US citizen and immigrant spouse. Filing the I-130 and I-130A starts your case, notifying the government that you are seeking a spousal green card.
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
The I-485 is filed by the immigrant spouse to adjust status to that of a permanent resident of the United States. The I-485 is largely biographical. In order to fill out the I-485, you will need information from your passport as well as your most recent arrival record, known as your I-94.
I-131 Application for Travel Document
The I-131 allows you to travel while your application is pending. When you apply for a spousal green card, you will not pay any additional filing fees when you request authorization to travel. While traveling is not advisable while your spousal petition is pending, you should submit this request in case of a family emergency requiring travel.
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
In addition to travel authorization, you can submit form I-765 in order to have permission to work while your marriage green card petition is pending. The work permit you receive will also function as proof of your travel authorization, and will allow you to get a social security number if you do not yet have one.
I-864 Affidavit of Support
The US citizen petitioner will submit the affidavit of support form to establish financial eligibility and create a financial sponsorship of the immigrant spouse. The purpose of the affidavit of support is to show that the immigrant spouse is not likely to rely on the US government for public financial assistance.
How an Attorney Can Help with Spousal Green Card Forms
There are three primary reasons that you should have an attorney help with preparing and filing the forms for your marriage based green card. First, if you are in a position where you are unclear about what the forms are asking because of a language barrier. Second, if you believe that you could complete the forms, but you want the process to be handled smoothly and efficiently. Third, if you anticipate a problem with your case and are unsure how to best proceed. While it is likely that you can complete the forms with enough time and attention, an experienced lawyer will save you time and you can be certain that the forms for your marriage green card petition will be completed correctly.
Documents to Submit with a Marriage Green Card Petition
While the documents you will need to submit vary case by case, you can expect to submit the following documents in most marriage based green card petitions:
- The US citizen’s birth certificate and passport
- Your marriage certificate
- Divorce decrees if either person was previously married
- The immigrant spouse’s birth certificate and translation if applicable
- The immigrant spouse’s passport
- Proof of the applicants legal entry such as a visa or I-94
- The last three years of taxes and W-2s for the US citizen spouse
- The last 6 months of paystubs for the US citizen spouse
- 8 passport style photos of the immigrant, and 2 of the US citizen spouse
- A sealed medical exam from an authorized physician
You must submit all of these documents when you file the forms for your marriage green card petition. Otherwise your filing will be rejected, or you will receive a request for evidence. This can slow down the processing of your marriage green card significantly. When submitting the application, you should only submit copies of the documents. You will need to bring the originals, such as passports and birth certificates, with you to your bona fide marriage green card interview.
Proving a Bona Fide Marriage at the Green Card Interview
The final stage of the adjustment of status process is an interview with an immigration officer at a US Citizenship and Immigration Services field office. The purpose of the interview is threefold. The officer will go over your forms and identifying documents, ask you security related questions, and inquire about your relationship and marriage. The main purpose of the interview is to determine whether you are in a real marriage. The officer is trying to weed out cases where people are committing immigration fraud by entering into a fake marriage in order to obtain a green card.
While there is no exact list of questions that the interviewer will ask, you can be certain that you will be expected to explain the history of your relationship. In order to make sure the marriage is real and that you are not engaged in fraud to obtain a green card, the interviewer will want to know the specifics of when you met, when your relationship became serious, when you met each other’s families, and when and why you decided to get married. Some immigration officers will ask more pointed questions about birth dates, names of siblings and parents, and other information to flush out green card fraud.
It is vitally important that you produce documentation at your interview to prove that you are in a real marriage. The burden of proof is on you to prove that you are in a bona fide marriage. In order to have the best chance of success with your spousal green card petition, you should plan to collect and produce documentary evidence such as joint bank account statements, joint credit card statements, a joint lease agreement, pictures spanning the length of your relationship, and statements from friends or family. While every case is different and there is no single piece of evidence that is absolutely necessary, you should try to collect as much documentation as possible to support your financial co dependence and proof of your relationship.
How a Lawyer Can Help with your Marriage Green Card Interview
Your attorney can accompany you at your bona fide marriage green card interview. While the attorney cannot answer questions about your relationship for you, the lawyer can address any legal questions that arise in the course of your interview. Additionally, a lawyer can present the immigration officer with your supporting documentation and explain to the immigration officer why it is relevant to prove you are in a real marriage. Finally, an attorney can work with you in advance of your interview to go over anticipated questions and to assemble the packet of documentation you will submit to prove that you are in real marriage.
What to Expect After the Marriage Green Card Interview
Some immigration officers will give you a decision on your case at the end of your interview. However, most officer will review your case and issue a written on your marriage green card petition with a few weeks of your interview. If your case is approved, you will receive your marriage based green card in the mail shortly thereafter. If you have an attorney, the lawyer will also receive notice of your approval. If you prefer, your attorney can receive the green card at their office.