The Basics of Obtaining a Green Card Through Marriage

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The marriage based green card is one of the most common ways of receiving your permanent residence in the United States. There are no quota restrictions on the number that are issued each year and the process usually takes approximately 7 months from start to finish.


Preliminary Requirements

First and foremost, it is best to obtain the services of a qualified immigration lawyer. Although anyone can learn the process and do it themselves, it is probably one of the most important processes you'll encounter in your lifetime. It is a wise person that considers the legal fee an investment in their future. Second, make sure that the applicant was legally admitted. Every month I see folks that come to me for information and do not realize that if they entered through the border, they must return home and consular process. They are further disappointed to learn that if they depart, they are more often than not ineligible to return for 10 years. Finally, make sure that you fully understand the applicants immigration history, i.e; number of trips to U.S. encounters with immigration officials and criminal interaction. These are all pitfalls that could lead to disastrous results.


Use the Proper Forms

The process incorporates a number of forms but basically involves two major ones, the I-130 and the I-485. The I-130 is the visa petition based upon a bona fide marriage while the I-485 is the applicants Adjustment of Status (green card) application. Typically, these are filed contemporaneously and the marriage interview addresses both at one interview. The other forms that are part of the package are the I-765, I-864, G-325 and medical exam . After the package is filed, the applicant will receive an employment authorization card (EAD). This typically takes three months and will allow the applicant to work while the case is pending. Fingerprints will be taken and the interview will be scheduled.

Additional Resources

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

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