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The Marriage-Based Green Card Process: What You Need To Know

If you are a U.S. citizen and want to bring your foreign spouse to live in the United States, you can apply for a marriage-based green card. This process can be complicated, so it’s essential to understand what is involved. This article will outline what you need to know to start the process.

What is a marriage-based green card, and who is eligible for one?

For many couples, the journey to marriage is the beginning of a new life together. But for those not citizens or permanent residents of the United States, the marriage process can also be the start of a long and complicated process to obtain a green card.

What is a marriage-based green card?

A marriage-based green card is a permanent residency card that allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to live and work in the United States.

Eligibility requirements for marriage-based green card application

  • The couple must be legally married to be eligible for a marriage-based green card.
  • Both spouses must be present in the United States at the time of filing the application.
  • The immigrant spouse must have entered the country legally and must not have any criminal convictions.
  • The sponsoring spouse must show they can provide financial support for their spouse.

The couple can begin applying for a green card if these requirements are met.

The process of obtaining a marriage-based green card

You may be eligible for a marriage-based green card if you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Applying for a green card can be complex, so it’s essential to know the requirements and gather the necessary documents before beginning the application.

Five steps in applying for a marriage-based green card

  1. First, you must complete an online application form and pay the filing fee.
  2. Then, you will need to submit supporting documents, including proof of your relationship and evidence of your spouse’s U.S. citizenship or residency status.
  3. Once your application is complete, it will be reviewed by a USCIS officer who will determine whether you are eligible for a green card.
  4. If you are found to be eligible, you will be scheduled for an interview at a USCIS office. You will be asked questions about your relationship and life together at the interview.
  5. If the USCIS officer is satisfied that your marriage is genuine, you will be granted a green card.

Applying for a marriage-based green card can be a long and complicated process, but navigating it successfully with planning and patience is possible.

Common challenges couples face during the application process

In addition to the usual stressors of marriage, couples must also navigate a complex and often confusing legal process. There are several common challenges that couples face during the application process.

One of the most common is collecting the required documentation. Another common challenge is passing the interview, which can be nerve-wracking for even the most prepared applicants. In addition, couples may also struggle with the financial burden of the application process, as it can be expensive to hire an immigration lawyer and pay the filing fees.

Despite these challenges, however, many couples are successfully able to navigate the application process and are ultimately rewarded with permanent residency in the United States.

What are the documents required for the application process?

The marriage-based green card application process requires several different documents. Listed are some of the following:

Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)

The first step is to file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS. This petition must be accompanied by proof of the relationship, such as a marriage certificate.

Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)

Once the I-130 is approved, the next step is to file an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This application must be accompanied by evidence of the applicant’s identity, such as a passport or birth certificate. In addition, the applicant will need to provide proof of their U.S. residency, such as a lease or utility bill.

Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Electronic Application) and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization Document)

If you currently live outside the United States, you must also submit a completed DS-260 form. If you are already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, you will instead need to submit a completed I-765 form.

Once your forms have been reviewed and approved, you will be scheduled for an interview at your local USCIS office. Once the interview is complete, your case will be either approved or denied. If approved, you will receive your green card in the mail within a few weeks.

How to prepare for the green card interview

The marriage-based green card interview is one of the final steps in obtaining a green card. During the interview, a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will ask you a series of questions to confirm that your marriage is real. While it may sound daunting, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the interview:

  • First, it’s essential to be honest and forthright in your answers. The USCIS officer is not looking to trip you up but rather to understand your relationship better.
  • Second, be prepared to provide evidence of your relationship, such as photos, correspondence, and joint financial documents.
  • Finally, try to relax and be yourself. The interview is not meant to be an interrogation but rather a conversation between you and the USCIS officer.

Following these tips can help ensure the marriage-based green card interview goes smoothly.

What happens after you receive your green card

After you receive your marriage-based green card, you will be a permanent resident of the United States. This means that you will have most of the same rights and responsibilities as a U.S. citizen, including the right to live and work in the United States permanently.

As a permanent resident, you will also be able to apply for citizenship after meeting specific requirements. However, there are some essential things to remember as a permanent resident.

First, you must keep your green card up-to-date by renewing it every ten years. You will also need to maintain your residency in the United States, which means living in the country for at least six months out of every year. Failure to do so can result in your green card being revoked.

Finally, you must remember that you are still subject to U.S. laws and regulations as a permanent resident. Therefore, staying informed about changes in immigration law and policy that may affect your status is crucial.

By understanding your rights and responsibilities as a permanent resident, you can ensure that you remain in compliance with U.S. law and maintain your status as a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Can you get divorced after getting a marriage-based green card and still keep your status?

If you are in the United States on a marriage-based green card and get divorced, you may be worried about what will happen to your status. However, there is no need to worry as long as you take action before your divorce is finalized.

Once you have filed for divorce, you can file for a “separate maintenance” green card, allowing you to remain in the United States even if your divorce is finalized. You must provide evidence that you are still married, such as a copy of your divorce decree or a joint bank account. Once you have received your separate maintenance green card, you can remain in the United States even if your divorce is finalized.

However, it is essential to note that if you remarry, you must apply for a new green card. Therefore, consulting with an experienced immigration attorney before taking action is vital.


If you are considering applying for a marriage-based green card, it’s essential to know what the process entails. We hope this article has given you an overview of what to expect and how to get started. For more detailed information or specific questions, please consider consulting with an immigration law firm. Best of luck!


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