If you are applying for a marriage-based green card on behalf of a foreign spouse, it is important to pay attention to detail. Minimal mistakes may lead to unpleasant delays or even visa denials. In this article, you will find the essentials of the application process for a marriage-based green card.
How to Bring a Foreign Spouse to the United States – The Essentials
Only US citizens or lawful permanent residents can sponsor a foreign wife for a marriage-based green card. Different nonimmigrant classifications have specific conditions for visa holders who want to bring a spouse and unmarried children (under 21) to the United States.
Whether the applicant is a US citizen or a permanent resident, the first step is to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If the petitioner is a US citizen applying on behalf of a foreign spouse already living in the United States under lawful status or parole, it is necessary to file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) at the same time.
If the petitioner is a US citizen applying on behalf of a foreign spouse living abroad, the application will be sent for consular processing once Form I-130.
The process is similar for lawful permanent residents (green card holders) applying on behalf of a foreign spouse. If the spouse is already in the United States under lawful status or parole, it is necessary to file for an adjustment of status by filing Form I-485.
If the green card holder’s spouse is living abroad while the petition is processing, it will be sent for consular processing once Form I-130 is approved and a marriage-based visa is available. Before receiving approval for the visa, the applicant must go through an interview.
If the foreign spouse is already in the United States, the interview will be scheduled at a USCIS office. If the foreign spouse is living abroad, the interview will be conducted at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Depending on the case’s circumstances, the couple may have to attend the interview together or separately.
Is it Hard to Get a Green Card Through Marriage? – Handling the Required Paperwork
Applying for a marriage-based green card involves a set of supporting documents. When filing and submitting Form I-130 with the required filing fee, petitioners must include:
- A copy of the couple’s civil marriage certificate
- A copy of divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees that demonstrate that any previous marriages entered by each of the spouses were terminated (if applicable)
- Passport style photos from each spouse (according to Form I-130 instructions)
- Evidence of legal name changes for each of the spouses (e.g., a court judgment of name change, adoption decrees, marriage certificates, etc.)
- Proof of US citizenship (e.g., a copy of a valid US passport, a US birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, a certificate of citizenship, etc.)
- Proof of permanent residence in the United States (e.g., a copy of Form I-551 (green card) or a copy of the petitioner’s foreign passport with a stamp demonstrating permanent residence)
If necessary, the applicant may need to submit further documentation, including photos of the couple together, joint bank statements, and other evidence showing the relationship is real.