Marriage Green Card and Visa

Green Card Marriage Chicago Lawyer

Chicago Marriage Green Card Visa Immigration Lawyer

Marriage for love to a U.S. Citizen or resident can lead to permanent residency (Marriage based Green Card). Whether you are in a long distance relationship with someone overseas or have already married with a foreign national, there are numerous marriage green card and visa options available. To find out which option is best for you, you generally need to consider the following:

  1. location of where the marriage takes place;
  2. the foreign spouse or fiancé’s current residence;
  3. the sponsoring spouse’s Immigration status;
  4. purpose of the marriage: for love or something else?

The rules surrounding marriage and conditional residency are detailed and complex, and largely depend on both the sponsoring spouse and foreign spouse’s immigration status, history and the relationship itself. Please continue to read the page below as we will explore different marriage based green card, visa and relating petitions in more details.

Is fiancée visa the same as Green Card?

This is a common question we are asked as immigration lawyers. No, a fiancé visa is not a green card. A fiancée visa or K1 visa, is intended for U.S. citizens to bring their overseas fiancée to the United States for the purpose of marriage. To sponsor your fiancée to the U.S., you must be a U.S. citizenship (not green card holder) as the basic requirement. If you are already married either in the U.S or overseas, you will not be eligible for a fiancé visa or K1 visa. You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for other marriage green card options such as K3 visa or adjustment of status.

Marriage Green Card Requirements

One of the keys element of a successful marriage based green card petition is to show that your marriage is genuine and not for immigration benefits.  To prove that you have a bona fide marriage, you must be able to prove that your marriage is for love and not for immigration benefits or a fraud. Since marriage fraud does happen, the US immigration agency is very strict on making sure that all marriage based green card petitions are genuine.  It is a federal crime to marry someone with the intention to gain immigration status.

All marriages are fraud unless proven otherwise

Although most foreign nationals enter into marriage in good faith, the fact that you are genuinely in love with your loved one does not exempt you from the need to show proof of bona fide marriage for immigration. The United States of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates under the assumption that you do not have a bona fide marriage unless proven otherwise.  With that assumption, it is your responsible to prove that your marriage is bona fide (real) based on a genuinely loving relationship and not for immigration benefits.

Proof of bona fide marriage for your marriage green card

Since every relationship is unique, proofing your relationship requires a clear and detailed explanation of your courtship and your ultimate decision to get engaged or married. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and overseas Consulates use several factors in determining whether a marriage is in good faith and not just for immigration purposes.  These factors are important as they proof that your relationship is genuine, they include but are not limited to the following:

  • Whether you and your sponsoring spouse have known each other for a reasonably long time;
  • The frequency of meetings of the you and your sponsoring spouse prior to the marriage;
  • Whether you and your sponsoring spouse have lived together in the past or presently living together;
  • Whether you married only after either you or sponsoring spouse became the subject of an investigation, removal, or deportation proceedings by the USCIS.
  • Whether you and your sponsoring spouse come from diverse cultural background or speaks a common language.

Other Marriage Green Cards Requirements

  • Valid recognized marriage between foreign spouse and U.S. citizen;
  • Marriage in existence – i.e. not legally terminated, though in some cases, parties do not have to live together;
  • If married before, that previous marriage has been legally terminated;
  • Financial Support – The U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse must provide an affidavit of support, guaranteeing the support for the immigrant spouse for at least 10 years or until the immigrant spouse becomes a U.S. citizen. If the sponsor cannot meet this requirement, then the sponsor may find other joint sponsors;
  • Marriage must not be a sham or for immigration purposes.

Marriage with U.S. Citizen vs. Permanent Resident

A U.S. permanent resident, upon marrying his/her foreign national spouse, may petition for his/her foreign spouse to immigrate to the United States as a U.S. resident.  Unlike marriage green card sponsored by a U.S. citizen, a spouse of a permanent resident (F2A) is subject to a numerical immigrant visa limit.  Due to the availability of a limited amount of green card for spouses of permanent residents, there is usually a wait time between the approval of the permanent residence applications and the granting of the actual green cards.

On the other hand, a marriage with a U.S. citizen, the spouse is considered an “immediately relative” of the U.S. citizen spouse.  The term “immediate relatives” includes several kinds of family relationships and one of which is a spouse of a U.S. citizen. The advantage of being “immediate relatives” is that they have special immigration priority and there are are not subject to a numerical immigrant visa limit. Unlike a marriage with a permanent resident, the processing time for U.S. citizen spouse green card is much faster.

Can you file a Marriage Green Card if you get married outside the U.S? 

If your marriage takes place overseas and you wish to bring your spouse to live in the United States, you must first file a marriage green card. A marriage green card or a marriage based Immigrant Visa must be filed by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident no matter where you get married.

Marriage within the U.S. and Adjustment of Status

If your foreign spouse is residing in the U.S., he/she may be eligible to remain in the country while your marriage based green card petition is pending and adjust your status once it is approved.  Adjustment of status is generally an immigration option if the foreign spouse is in the United States with a valid visa such as a employment based visa or student visa.

There are special rules if the foreign national spouse last entered the U.S. as a tourist, have overstayed an non-immigrant visa or entered the U.S. illegally.  In those cases, the applicable immigration laws are complex, please contact us for a consultation to discuss how we can help you to maximize your chance of getting your marriage green card based on these circumstances.

If you marry your spouse within the U.S., you will still have to file a marriage based green card petition (I-130) for your spouse. Once the I-130 is approved, your spouse may adjust her/his status to become a U.S. resident. Adjustment of status is a separate immigrant visa petition from the I-130 but can be filed concurrently with the I-130 petition.

Removal of conditions after issuance of marriage green card

If a marriage green card is filed within two years of marriage between the U.S. citizen and foreign national spouse, a “conditional residency status” will be granted, meaning the foreign wife or husband will become a conditional resident. Upon the 3 year anniversary of becoming a conditional residence, the conditional resident will have to file another petition called “Removal of Conditions” to remove the conditional conditions to become a permanent resident.

Experienced Chicago Marriage Green Card Lawyer

Marriage and Green cards are extremely complex and detailed area of immigration law. If you are considering marriage or are married with a foreign national, call (773) 687-0549 or contact Cipolla Law Group online for a consultation. We have over 30 years of combined experience helping married or engaged couples to successfully live legally in the U.S. We are conveniently located in downtown Chicago and Lincoln Park and we speak Spanish, Chinese, French, Italian and Portuguese.

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