Videos: How to Get a Green Card Through Marriage and I-751 Waivers
How to get a Green Card Through Marriage. We link to our Green Card Through Marriage Videos and to our I-751 Waiver Video from the bottom of this Legal Guide.
Green Card Through MarriageA green card through marriage to a US citizen is the most common way to become a permanent resident. There is no limit on the number of people who can obtain a green card through marriage to US citizens. The US citizen starts the process by submitting a form I-130 visa petition on behalf of his/her spouse. If the spouse entered the US lawfully, he/she can file for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) at the same time and get a green card without having to leave the US.
If the marriage is less than two years old when the green card is granted, it will expire in two years. The couple must submit a form I-751 joint petition during the 90-day period prior before the expiration of the green card. This way, the foreign-born spouse can obtain a ten-year green card.
If you have a two-year green card, but get divorced, see our video I-751 Waiver Where Marriage Ends in Divorce.
Procedure if Spouse Legally Entered the US
The US citizen must submit a visa petition (Form I-130) to prove that the marriage is bona fide. The foreign-born spouse should file an adjustment of status application (I-485 packet) together with the I-130.Green Card Through Marriage
Attach the following items to the I-130: (1) Proof of spouse's US citizenship status (A U.S. Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate); (2) A certified copy of your marriage certificate; and (3) Certified copies of the documents that ended any previous marriages of you or your spouse. These may be final divorce decrees and/or certificates of annulment or death.
Include the following items with the I-485: (1) Photographs; (2) Affidavit of Support (Form I-864); (3) Application for an EAD work permit (Form I-765); and (4) An Advance Parole travel permit (Form I-131).
Include a check for USCIS filing fees. The USCIS will accept your application for a green card through marriage, cash your check and issue you a receipt. After about 6 months, they will issue an EAD work permit and an AP travel document. It may take over 1 year for USCIS to schedule your interview. We link to the USCIS Processing Times for all 80+ District and Sub-Offices.
Procedure if Spouse is Outside the US or Did Not Legally Enter the US
The process begins when the US citizen spouse submits a visa petition to the USCIS. The same items which are listed above should be attached to the I-130 form.
Once the I-130 is approved, the spouse will receive a packet from the National Visa Center (NVC). The packet will list various documents which must be submitted to the NVC (e.g., passport, police clearances, results of medical examinations, etc.). The packet also includes forms which must be completed.
The spouse will be interviewed for a green card at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Tips on How to Prepare for Your Green Card Marriage InterviewPlease see https://www.shusterman.com/green-care-marriage-interview/
Green Card Marriage QuestionsPlease see https://www.shusterman.com/green-card-marriage-questions/
I-751 Waiversf your marriage ends in a divorce before your conditional permanent residence (CPR) expires, you should submit an I-751 waiver to the USCIS as soon as your divorce becomes final.
Most foreign-born persons who marry U.S. citizens apply for a green card in order to remain in the U.S. with their spouse. In order to become a permanent resident, they must first file for a 2-year conditional green card, and then submit form I-751 to apply to remove the condition and obtain a 10-year green card.
But what if your marriage ends in divorce or annulment before the 2 years are up? Can you still keep your green card? Will you be deported?
In our I-751 waiver video (See below), Immigration Attorney Carl Shusterman (INS Trial Attorney 1976-82), whose law firm has prepared hundreds of successful I-751 waivers over the past 30+ years, explains how to prepare and submit an I-751 waiver if your marriage has ended before your 2-year green card expires. The key is to document your I-751 waiver as completely as possible. Include proof of joint assets, income tax returns and, if possible, detailed affidavits from your former spouse and his/her relatives.