What should people expect when seeking a green card for a spouse?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Family Immigration

A green card grants someone status as a permanent resident. They can then stay in the country for the rest of their lives if they meet certain standards. Generally, permanent residents have to reapply once a decade and need to avoid particularly serious criminal violations. However, if they follow the rules, they can live in the United States forever.

One of the ways to obtain a green card is through marriage to a United States citizen. A citizen who has a foreign spouse can sponsor them for lawful entry and permanent residence in the United States. What does the process of helping a spouse secure a green card typically involve?

Paperwork is a key consideration

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has to evaluate any request for a green card carefully. Therefore, the citizen seeking a green card for their spouse must submit certain paperwork. In addition to an application requesting a visa for the foreign national spouse, there are likely medical records to submit as well. The non-citizen spouse must undergo a background check and may need to submit to biometric procedures, such as recording their fingerprints.

An interview is likely necessary

An interview with the foreign national spouse and possibly also with the citizen spouse is a common component of marriage-based immigration. Ensuring the validity of the marital relationship and the intentions of the immigrant spouse are both priorities.

The green card initially has conditions that limit it

A green card secured through marriage is a conditional green card. It does not last for a full 10 years. Someone’s right to remain in the country lawfully depends on the continuation of their marital relationship. They usually need to apply to remove the conditions from their green card roughly two years after obtaining it. Only then does the immigrant spouse’s marriage cease to affect their eligibility to remain in the country. Someone who divorces less than two years after securing a green card via marriage may not be able to remain in the United States permanently.

The process of obtaining a marriage-based green card can take months to complete in some cases. Understanding the immigration rules that apply in different circumstances can help people support their loved ones who want to enter the United States.