Which is the Best Way to Get a Marriage-Based Green Card?
When a U.S. citizen marries a foreign citizen, there are fundamentally two different ways for the foreign citizen to immigrate to the United States and obtain a green card. The choice — a fiancé visa or marriage visa — can cause confusion for many couples. Each has its own benefits. So what’s best for one couple may not be ideal for another couple’s situation. In making your decision, you’ll need to consider speed of the process, cost, as well as other factors.
The fiancé visa (aka K-1 visa) is a nonimmigrant visa obtained by the foreign fiancé to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married in the U.S. and then adjusting status to a permanent resident (green card holder).
The marriage visa (aka CR-1 or IR-1 visa) is an immigrant visa obtained by the foreign spouse while in the foreign country after marriage for the purpose of immigrating to the U.S. to live permanently with the spouse.
Deciding on the fiancé visa or marriage visa is a personal decision. So, the best path for you depends on your specific situation. However, for many couples, the speed of the immigration process is an important factor. Continue reading
Immigration law (INA §245) allows certain foreign nationals who are physically present in the United States to adjust status to permanent resident (green card holder). A foreign national may not be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, if one or more bars to adjustment applies. Bars to adjustment of status are rules that exclude certain individuals that have committed a particular act or violation. They are factors that can disqualify an applicant. Many applicants get a Form I-485 denial as a result of bars they didn’t realize existed.
Some of the most common statutory bars to adjustment that result in I-485 denials include:
- Unlawful status
- Failure to maintain status
- Unauthorized employment
The K-1 visa is for the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to come to the United States for the purpose of marriage. If you entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa, you have 90 days to marry the U.S. citizen from the date of entry. A K-1 visa does not allow the foreign national to stay in the United States for more than 90 days – it can’t be extended. Once married, the foreign national has the option of staying in the United States if he or she files an application for adjustment of status through a K-1 visa entry.
Adjustment of status to permanent resident is an exclusive process to apply for a green card reserved for certain intending immigrants that are physically present in the United States. A K-1 visa holder who has married his or her U.S. citizen fiancé is generally eligible. Continue reading
The steps to obtain a family-based green card — officially known as a permanent resident card — vary based on the qualifying family relationship and where you live (inside the United States or outside).
If you would like to petition (sponsor) a family member for a green card or you are a foreign national that wants to permanently move to the United States, this article provides a basic overview of the eligibility categories and family-based green card process. Continue reading
If you previously filed an I-130 petition for your spouse and/or minor children when you were a permanent resident, you can upgrade the petition if you’ve now become a U.S. citizen. For the spouse and/or children of a lawful permanent resident, the wait for an immigrant visa (green card) can be lengthy. After the filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, spouse and children of a lawful permanent resident will wait several months to years. In some situations the wait can be very long. If you upgrade an I-130 petition after naturalization, your petition gets expedited because there is no numerical limit.
In many cases, one family member is able to obtain permanent resident status in the United States, but must leave behind a spouse and/or children in the home country. Upon arriving in the U.S. and becoming a permanent resident (green card holder), he or she may petition those family members to immigrate with Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. However, the wait time can take several years. If that permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, he or she may upgrade the I-130 petition and speed up the immigration process. Continue reading
Preparing for your marriage-based consular interview
The consular interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate is an important milestone in your application for an immigrant visa (green card). After all, consular officers use their discretion based on this interview to determine if they will approve your green card application. For marriage-based applications the interview is especially crucial. Knowing what to expect and preparing for possible green card interview questions will help you be ready.
Green card interview questions for spouses tend to dig a little deeper than typical interviews. That’s because marriage is one of the primary ways that fraudulent visas are requested. Immigration officers want to verify that you have a bona fide marriage. That’s it. The officer will ask additional questions to help determine if your marriage is the real deal. Continue reading
Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no different than any other massive government organization – they are heavily burdened with a large workload and aren’t the most efficient organization. In fact, several agencies make up the overall immigration system. Consular offices, Department of State and the National Visa Center all play a role. Over 6 million forms are filed with USCIS each year alone. Even if you’ve used our tips for preparing USCIS forms, it’s not uncommon for these agencies to lose parts of your application package or even the whole thing. But there are some preventive measures so that you don’t have to call us to say, “USCIS lost my application!” Continue reading
As a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, you can help a relative get a green card. The green card, formally known as a permanent resident card, is the tangible proof that a person may permanently live and work in the U.S. as a permanent resident.
The process begins by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Specifically, the form establishes an eligible family relationship that exists between you and your relative and initiates the request for a visa.
Your relative’s wait for a green card will vary significantly based on the type of relationship and other factors. Immediate relatives may have virtually no wait while some family preference categories will have to wait several years. Filing the I-130 petition is a critical first step to get your family member get a green card. Continue reading
A “spouse visa” in this article is a term to refer to an immigrant visa (green card) for spouses. The U.S. government may issue a spouse visa to the foreign national spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. For couples that have been married for less than two years, the U.S. Department of State will issue a “CR1” visa. This code indicates that the new permanent resident (green card holder) is a conditional resident. On other hand, spouses that have been married more than two years will likely be issued an “IR1” visa. In fact, most spouse visa beneficiaries are approved as conditional residents.
Immigration officials, from the U.S. Department of State and also U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), scrutinize spouse relationships more than other types of immigrant visa applications. That’s because Continue reading
What to expect at your Adjustment of Status Interview
First of all, don’t get anxious just because USCIS sent you an appointment notice for an I-485 interview. Almost everyone must go through an interview during the adjustment of status process. In fact, there’s reason to get excited. The I-485 interview is likely the last step in your application process. If all goes well, you’ll be a permanent resident (green card holder) at the end of the interview. Continue reading