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  • Writer's pictureJarbath Peña Law Group PA

Establishing Marriage-Based Green Card Eligibility When Living in the U.S.


this past article, we addressed an overview of how to get a marriage-based green card if you are married to a U.S. citizen or green-card holder. This marriage-based green card allows you to live and work in the United States and will provide you with permanent resident status. You are also eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after three years, should you wish to do so. If so, we recommend consulting with a highly-regarded and skilled immigration attorney when filing your green card applications.

Establish the Marriage Relationship

In our previous overview of the process of obtaining a marriage-based green card, we explained that the first step is establishing a marital relationship with a U.S. citizen or green card holder. You do this by submitting Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of this form and supporting documentation is to establish that a valid marriage exists. The spouse who is a U.S. citizen or green card holder is called the “sponsor” or “petitioner.” The spouse seeking the marriage green card is called the “applicant” or “beneficiary.” The sponsor must file Form I-130.

Once you submit your I-130 package to USCIS, it generally takes about 13 months to decide on your application. If your I-130 is approved, then the next step is to determine whether the spouse seeking a marriage green card is eligible for one.

Eligibility for a Marriage Green Card

If the beneficiary spouse physically lives in the United States, then the next step is to file an Adjustment of Status application (Form I-485). The primary purpose of the I-485 is to establish that the green card-seeking spouse is eligible for a green card. It is the immigration process for the following marriage visa types:

  • IR6/CR6 visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen and an accompanying IR7/CR7 for a step-child of a U.S. citizen;

  • F26 for the spouse of a lawful permanent resident and F27 for a child of a lawful permanent resident; and

  • CF1 spouse; CF2 child when the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, and the foreign spouse is adjusting status from a K fiancé visa.

Along with the filing fees, your I-485 package should include the following:

  • Proof that the spouse seeking a green card lawfully entered the country—this could consist of a copy of your travel record (form I-94) and your prior U.S. visa;

  • Proof of the nationality of the spouse who is applying for a green card (this could be a copy of your birth certificate and passport photo page);

  • Proof that the sponsoring spouse is able to financially support the green card-seeking spouse (this could include Form I-864, which is an “Affidavit of Support,” and evidence of income such as pay stubs or tax returns).

Additionally, you must obtain a medical examination by a doctor who the USCIS has approved to perform such exams.

The USCIS allows you to file the I-485 application simultaneously with the I-130 application to save time. However, this is only allowed when the filing spouse (sponsor) is a U.S. citizen. If the sponsor is a U.S. green card holder, then the I-485 filing package cannot be submitted right away. This is due to annual caps on the number of visas issued. So the U.S. Department of State must first determine that a green card is available in the visa bulletin, and then you can file your I-485. Depending on the country that the applying spouse is from, the wait time is currently about one and a half years.


You Will Need a Medical Examination

As part of your I-485 eligibility package, you will need to undergo a medical examination. The purpose of this examination is to make sure that the person applying for a green card does not have any illness that might make them ineligible for a green card. This exam must be done by a “civil surgeon,” who is licensed by USCIS to perform this examination. The physician will review your medical and immunization history, perform a physical and mental evaluation, do a drug and alcohol screening, and test you for various diseases and illnesses. You can submit the results of this exam with your application or wait to bring it to your green card interview.

You Will Need to Attend a Biometrics Appointment

About a month after you submit your application to USCIS, you will receive notice of your biometrics appointment. This is usually a low-stress appointment at a USCIS field office closest to where you live. A USCIS officer will take fingerprints and photographs to conduct a security and background check.

Last Step: The Interview

Once all of your application paperwork and background checks have been done, your file will be sent to a USCIS field office near you. They will contact you with an appointment time and location that both the green card applicant and spouse must attend.

Most couples feel stressed about this interview, which is normal. However, having your attorney put together an organized file to bring to the interview and go over what to expect will help to relieve your stress.

A USCIS officer will conduct the interview to establish that your marriage is not fraudulent. They will then either approve your application on the spot or give you notice of approval shortly thereafter.

Once You Receive Your Green Card

If approved, you should receive your marriage green card by mail within two or three weeks. The type of green card depends on the length of time that you’ve been married. If you’ve been married for less than two years, you will receive a CR1, which is a “conditional green card.” This card is only valid for two years. If you would like to remain in the U.S., you will then need to file for a “removal of conditions” at the end of the two years to get a permanent green card.

If you’ve been married for more than two years, you will be given an “IR1” (immediate relative green card). This “permanent” green card is valid for 10 years and is easily renewable.

Get Your Marriage Green Card Application Filed Today!

The experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at The Jarbath Peña Law Group know immigration law. We can take the stress off of your shoulders because we are intimately familiar with all of the proper forms, documentation, and procedures necessary to file your marriage green card application. We get it right the first time so you have the best chance of getting your green card approved as quickly as possible. We are your South Florida immigration attorneys, so do not delay! You can set up your free initial consultation today by calling 305-615-1005 or through our online contact form. We look forward to serving you.


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