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Love knows no borders. Even before the days of dating websites, lovers met worldwide, transcending language and customs. Before you say “I do”, you and your foreign spouse should discuss how your marriage will affect his or her residence in the United States. While marriage to American citizens or lawful residents is the most common road to citizenship, you still need to prepare yourself before making that journey. We will get you ready before those wedding bells ring!
Make Sure Your Marriage is Legal
Your wedding date is set. How exciting! Even if you are planning a small get-together, you need to make sure every step you take towards marriage is legal in order to be eligible for a green card, or an ID issued by the U.S. government that allows a foreign spouse to live and work permanently in America Though this may be obvious, it’s important to note that your spouse must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in order to marry. If you are marrying another Green Cardholder, you will need to provide a copy of your spouse’s green card as proof of marriage to a lawful permanent resident. If you are filling out your green card application, providing your spouse’s birth certificate, U.S. passport, or naturalization certificate will help speed up the process.
Whether you are marrying in your home country or the U.S., the marriage must follow said country’s legal rules. In the U.S., a couple must sign a marriage license, or a document legally binding them together, after the ceremony is performed Once both people sign the document and it is turned into the clerk’s office of the county in whichyou are marrying, you will then be given a marriage certificate as proof of marriage. These marriage licenses require a fee, usually ranging between $35 and $150, depending on where you apply. and usually have adate by which you must marry before it becomes invalid.
Make Sure Your Love is Real
While your love is genuine, fraudulent green card marriages do happen from time to time. To avoid questions from the government regarding the legitimacy of your relationship, you will need to provide the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with proof that you and your spouse are a real couple expecting to live out your lives together in the U.S. So besides getting married, how do you prove your love? First of all, make sure both you and your spouse are not still married to other people. If you or your partner have a former spouse, ensure that either party has legally divorced. Otherwise, even if you love each other dearly, the USCIS will still mark your marriage as fraudulent.
Say you don’t have any other partners. Fantastic! However, the USCIS still might want proof of your relationship. During your green card interview, you may be asked to provide evidence through documentation, such as childbirth certificates, any joint bank statements you might have, or joint property ownership of a car orhouse. While you won’t be spied on 24 hours a day to make sure your marriage is legitimate, you and your spouse might face follow-up interviews if the USCIS deems your relationship suspicious,. However, these are the general rules set in place to prevent fraudulent green card marriages. As long as you and your spouse love each other and genuinely show that you want to be in a partnership, you will not have any issues.
Prepare to Wait
The wedding is over. What now? Unfortunately, getting a marriage green card isn’t immediate. Though the whole process takes significant time and money, you and your spouse will benefit in the end.
Applying for your green card requires three steps:
- Submit Form I-130 and other documents supporting your marriage.
- Submit Form I-485 or Form DS-260 of your green card application.
- Attend your green card interview.
The biggest hurdle in applying for a marriage green card depends on whether or not you currently live within the U.S.. If you do currently live in the U.S., you will need to submit the Form I-485, or the “Adjustment of Status” form, to officially change your current visa status to a marriage green card. Filing this requires several documents, including your birth certificate, legal proof of entry in the country, immigration medical examination, and proof that your spouse can financially support you.
The time to process your marriage green card application should take anywhere from 10 to 13 months and costs $1760.
If you are living outside of the U.S., you will undergo a process called Consular Processing where you apply for a green card at a US consulate abroad This process usually takes a bit longer and requires a government filing fee of $445 through the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center. During this process, your eligibility for such a visa will be determined as well as whether or not your American spouse can financially support you. Processing time for someone living outside of the US can be anywhere from 11 to 17 months.and cost $1200.
New marriages require a conditional residence period before a spouse successfully earns his or her green card. The ‘newlywed’ green card is only good for two years. However, once the two years are up, you can file for a permanent green card.
Following your love to a new country isn’t easy. Need help adapting to your new country? Check out our videos and other services to see how we can help you today. Golden Beacon USA’s products and services are here to make your transition to your new country as easy as possible! Questions? Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text (866) 403-7173. Remember, you are not alone!