Marrying A US Citizen And Getting A Green Card – How Easy It Is?

There are several factors that determine how easy or difficult it is to get a green card by marrying a US citizen. Some basic factors that determine the level of difficulty of this process include factors like whether you marry outside or inside of the United States of America, and the kind of immigration status you have at the time of the marriage. The common assumption that just because a person marries a US citizen, he/she automatically gets the US citizenship is wrong. There is a certain legal procedure you have to follow. Following is a brief rundown on how to go about it.

Things To Keep In Mind While You Get Married

Though getting married seems to be a very simple process, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. Even the immigration authorities know that many people are getting married with the sole objective to get a green card. That is the reason they take such marriages very seriously and do everything to make sure that it is a bona fide marriage. If you are living in some other country and your fiancée is living in the US, you will first have to get a K-1 fiancée visa first, which is again a complex process that will be discussed in another separate article.

Immigration Medical Exam

Once you get married, you will have to go through an immigration medical exam. The doctor who examines you must be duly approved by the USCIS. A list of approved doctors in your locality can be obtained by contacting the local USCIS office. While you submit the green card application (I-485 form), make sure you attach the medical certificate from the doctor. It is advisable to keep a copy to yourself also, as you may need it in future.

Gather Documents

In order to file your application, you will first need to gather some important documents. So, make sure you read the instructions on the form I-485 thoroughly. The questions on the page 3 are very important; so, review it properly before you answer them. In cases, where you are undocumented, your immigration status has expired, or you are living in the country on a visitor’s visa, things can be very complex and you may need the help of a qualified immigration attorney. The basic documents that you have to submit include proof of legal U.S. status, a copy of your non-immigrant visa, a copy of your birth certificate, and two passport style photographs. Depending upon your specific case, you may also be required to submit certain other documents along with your green card application, such as divorce decrees from all prior marriages, proof of AOS eligibility, an employment verification letter, recent tax returns, and other such things as applicable.

Submit Forms

There are three forms that you have to submit – G-325A (biographical information form), I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status), and I-130 (the Petition for Alien Relative). There is a certain amount of filing fee applicable with each form. The process should not be very difficult if you are already having a valid resident immigration status. On the other hand, the USCIS may first run a thorough investigation of your status if you are undocumented, your status is expired, or you are staying in the country on a visitor’s visa. Such investigation may make the process very complex.

Working In The Country

If you want to work in the US while you are still waiting for the green card through marriage to a US citizen, you will have to submit a form I-765. This process may take up to three months. Therefore, you must plan everything in advance.

Fingerprinting/Biometrics Appointment

Once you file your I-485 application, you may get a notice for fingerprinting/biometrics appointment within 30 to 90 days. Your application may be denied straightaway if you fail to appear in this appointment. If that happens, you will still have an option to reapply and follow the entire procedure once again.

The Interview

The last step is to attend the interview for the adjustment of immigration status. It may take some time, ranging from 6 months to 12 months or even more. While you attend the interview, you must carry certain documents to prove your bona fide marriage. These documents may include birth certificates for any children born of the marriage, marriage invitation cards, letters, photographs, a lease agreement, utility bills, and shared property and bank accounts.

If you have no impediments, the process of getting a green card might be simple, but considering the very fact that laws in this regard are very complex, it may be a nice idea to follow the procedure with the help of an immigration lawyer.