Procedure for obtaining a Green Card through marriage

If you are married to an American citizen and wish to expatriate to the USA, you need a Green Card. The Green Card offers its holder permanent residency. It is subject to a number of eligibility criteria and a complex application process. There are many reasons to obtain a Green Card. The main ways of obtaining a Green Card are: through a family member, through an employer, for political reasons or through a draw in the Green Card lottery.

Obtaining a Green Card from abroad through marriage

The main condition for obtaining a Green Card is marriage. The Green Card by marriage can be obtained by the husband or wife of an American citizen or Green Card holder, who then becomes the applicant’s sponsor.

Green Card petition form

It is up to the American citizen who already holds a Green Card to take the steps on behalf of the person wishing to obtain the Green Card through marriage.

The first step is to complete Form I-130, which is the petition for a foreign family member. This form is made up of more than 10 pages, which gives an idea of the intensity of the procedures requested by the American authorities. Any missing information will result in refusal of the application. It is also possible to call on the services of a specialist lawyer to put all the chances on your side.

The form must be sent to the Department of State, via the American embassy or consulate in the country of origin, with payment of the application fee of over 500 US dollars.

If the application is approved by the U.S. government, the file is sent to the National Visa Center to obtain an immigrant visa number. If it is refused, the reasons are clearly stated. The possibility of appeal, if applicable, will also be mentioned.

The Green Card appointment at the American embassy

Once the immigrant visa number has been issued, an appointment is made with the American embassy to present the application. All supporting documents must be provided at the time the appointment is made. These include proof of marriage :

If the application is accepted, the consular officer issues a “Visa Packet”. This envelope is reserved for the immigration officer at the port of entry, so please do not open it. The border agent will examine the contents of the envelope and decide whether or not to allow the holder to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident. Please note that USCIS immigrant fees must be paid. They amount to over $200.

Issuing the Green Card

The Green Card is delivered by mail within 45 days to the American address of residence.

If the marriage is less than two years old: the Green Card by marriage is provisional. In the 90 days prior to the expiry of the provisional authorization, the couple must jointly complete form I-751 and attend an interview with the competent authorities. The reason for this provisional authorization is the fight against sham marriages and the risk of a threat to US homeland security.

Obtaining a Green Card through marriage while in the United States

If the applicant for a Green Card by marriage is in the United States, the procedures are different, but the issue is the same. Before even starting the process, it is important that the applicant is legally present in the United States. It would be frowned upon, particularly in view of current immigration policy, to officially declare oneself to be in an irregular situation.

As with a green card application for marriage abroad, the application must be made by the American national or green card holder. The forms to be completed are the I130 and I-485. Once again, the forms are very comprehensive and require the utmost concentration.

The documents to be provided are :

The application is submitted to the USCIS for approval, which organizes an interview where the couple must justify their request and their marriage. Fingerprints will be taken.

Duration of Green Card obtained by marriage

The Green Card is valid for 10 years, and can be renewed using form I-90. American naturalization, to obtain the same rights as American citizens, can be applied for 5 years after obtaining the Green Card.

An unmarried fiancée can apply for a visa before traveling to the U.S. for the wedding.