The marriage-based Green Card application is frequently pursued by couples seeking to spend their wedded life in the USA. It is a fixed 3-stage process. Around 1 million green cards – correctly the ‘Permanent Resident Card’ or Form I-551 – are issued to immigrants in the USA each year, a good proportion of which are marriage based.
Applying for a marriage based green card involves proving the authenticity of the marriage. An experienced green card lawyer will be engaged to help with this task. Let’s have a more detailed look at how a marriage can be authenticated for this purpose.
Step 1 – Establishing the Marriage Relationship
It must be proven that a marriage is genuine in every way. Thus, the relationship between the two parties needs to be established and proven. Form I-130 must be submitted at this point, this being the ‘Petition for Alien Relative’. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department will receive the form.
The spouse required to complete the form is the US citizen – the ‘petitioner’ – while the spouse seeking the green card is the ‘beneficiary’. The following are needed to complete the I-130:
- Proof the petitioner is a US citizen or has residential status, in the form or a birth certificate or passport, or their green card.
- The marriage certificate as proof of the marriage itself.
- Evidence the marriage is not fraudulent, by way of a joint lease or bank account, and pictures of the couple together.
- Divorce documents relating to prior marriages
- A fee of $535.
The completed form should be sent to the USCIS, but it is important to remember that even once the form has been accepted and the evidence is examined, there is still the need to establish that the spouse is eligible for a green card, which is the next step.
Step 2 – Establishing the Eligibility of the Spouse for a Green Card
The marriage has been established to be above board and genuine, yet this is not enough to grant the spouse a green card. There are two separate processes here, one for persons already living in the USA, the other for those looking to enter. The process for a spouse already in the USA is as follows:
- Pay a fee of $1225, which includes the card and the biometric security measures
- Complete form I-485 to confirm the nationality of the spouse and proof of lawful entry to the USA, both backed up by physical evidence.
- Undergo a medical examination
- Proof of the ability of the US spouse to financially support the beneficiary.
The non-resident applicants will be required to complete form DS260 and provide other examples of identity. The third part of the process is the interview.
3: The Green Card Interview
The final step, the interview, will focus on the couple’s future together, including their plans and day to day routine and activities. It is up to the interviewing officer to achieve the satisfaction that the marriage is a genuine union, and that all required evidence of eligibility for a green card has been met. Once this step is achieved, the beneficiary will be issued with a green card.
There can be many complications in proving the eligibility of a candidate and the validity of a marriage. The lawyer handling the application needs to be up to date with immigration rules and regulations, and with any changes in the law that may have been passed recently.
This is a process that needs strict adherence to the steps involved, as a green card is a precious and much sought-after commodity.