How to Apply for a Marriage-Based Green Card?

Green card

For many immigrants, marrying a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) paves the way to permanent residency in the United States.

A marriage-based green card grants you the legal right to live and work permanently within the U.S. If you’re considering this path, here’s a breakdown of the application process, fees, and documents you’ll need.

This process involves several steps and requires careful preparation to ensure a smooth application. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to apply for a marriage-based green card, including information on what it is, how to apply, the filing fees, and a checklist of necessary documents.

What is a Marriage Green Card?

A marriage green card allows the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to live and work as a lawful permanent resident in the United States. This card is also known as a permanent resident card.

The process involves proving the marriage’s legitimacy and both spouses’ eligibility. The green card gives the foreign spouse many of the same rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen.

How to Apply for a Marriage Green Card

Applying for a marriage-based green card involves several key steps:

  • Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative: The U.S. citizen spouse initiates the process by filing Form I-130 with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). This petition establishes the legitimacy of your marriage.
  • Concurrent Filing (Optional): If you’re already present legally in the U.S., you can concurrently file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, alongside Form I-130. This streamlines the process.
  • Evidence Collection: Gather extensive documentation to demonstrate your bona fide (good faith) marriage. This includes joint bank statements, lease agreements, photos, and affidavits from friends and family.
  • Interview and Green Card Issuance: Once USCIS approves your application, you’ll attend an interview to verify your marriage’s authenticity. Upon successful completion, you’ll receive your green card.

Marriage Green Card Filing Fees

Be prepared for associated fees throughout the process. Here’s a general breakdown:

  • Form I-130: $540
  • Form I-485 (if applicable): $1,440

Remember, USCIS fees are subject to change.

Marriage Green Card Checklist of Documents

USCIS requires comprehensive documentation to assess your eligibility and the legitimacy of your marriage. While the exact list may vary depending on your situation, here are some standard requirements:

  • Proof of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship or LPR status: This could include a U.S. birth certificate, passport, or naturalization certificate for a U.S. citizen spouse. For LPRs, a copy of the green card suffices.
  • Marriage certificate: An official copy of your marriage certificate issued by the government where you were married.
  • Proof of cohabitation: Documentation demonstrating you share a residence, such as joint utility bills, lease agreements, or mortgage statements.
  • Financial documentation: Evidence of your spouse’s ability to financially support you. This could include tax returns, pay stubs, or W-2s.
  • Affidavits from friends and family: Sworn statements from friends and family attesting to the bona fide nature of your marriage.

Remember: This is not an exhaustive list. It’s crucial to consult with an immigration attorney who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.

Starting Your Forever in the U.S.

The marriage-based green card process can seem daunting, but you can navigate it successfully with careful planning and preparation.

By understanding the steps involved, associated fees, and documents needed, you’re well on your way to establishing your permanent home in the United States with your spouse.