Marriage-Based Green Cards and Visas
Marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is one of the most common ways that non-citizens obtain their green cards in the United States. Naturally, the law the requires that the marriage be a legitimate one based on a bona fide intent of the spouses to start a life together. There are two main ways to get a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. One method is called Adjustment of Status. The second method is called Consular Processing. The main difference between the two is where the green card process takes place. Both processes require the U.S. citizen to file a form called an I-130, which is a petition asking the U.S. government to recognize that a valid marriage exists between the citizen and non-citizen.
Adjustment of Status is the preferred method of applying for a green card when the non-citizen spouse is already in the United States at the initiation of the process, and allows for the applicant to receive a green card without ever having to leave the U.S. Consular Processing is the applicable procedure when the non-citizen spouse is outside the U.S. at the time the green card process is initiated. The term “consular processing” simply refers to the process of applying for a green card through a U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign country. For more information about marriage-based immigration, please read Jered’s blog article found here.
Other Family-Based Green Cards and Visas
Children, Parent and Sibling Green Cards
U.S. citizens and permanent residents have the right to file immigration petitions for certain other, non-spousal, family members to immigrate to the United States as well. U.S. citizens can not only file for their husbands or wives, but also their children, parents, and brothers and sisters. Permanent residents can not only file for their husband or wives, but also their children. Unlike citizens, however, permanent residents cannot file for their parents or siblings. Some family members of U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioners can complete their green card process inside the United States without ever having to leave. Others must complete their process outside the U.S. Applicants can apply for waivers as needed (ex: provisional waivers) in conjunction with the green card process.
Fiancé(e) and Spouse Visas (K Visas)
U.S. citizens also have the right to file a petition for a K Visa for a foreign fiancé, fiancée, or spouse. For a fiancé(e) visa, the couple must generally have met in person within the two years preceding filing of the petition, and must marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S. A K Visa allows U.S. citizen’s nonimmigrant fiancé(e) to enter the United States, marry the citizen, and then pursue Adjustment of Status to lawful permanent resident. It also allows a U.S. citizen’s nonimmigrant spouse to enter the United States to await the availability of an immigrant visa and pursue Adjustment of Status to lawful permanent resident.