Immigration Laws When Marrying a US Citizen
Every day, family immigration law firms handle numerous cases involving nationality and visa, permanent residency, travel documents, and authorization papers. One of the most popular queries, however, are those related to the marriage green card process.
Individuals of a different nationality may qualify for lawful permanent residence in the United States. In most cases, immigrant visas are applied at an embassy or consulate in one’s home country, with hopes of obtaining legal permanent resident status. To be a green card holder and enjoy the benefits of being a permanent resident of the United States, you must either be sponsored by an employer or a family member. For marriage green cards, this family member is your spouse.
If you have any questions related to this immigration process, it is best to consult with reliable The Woodlands immigration lawyers early on.
This article is divided into three parts. These are:
- Acquiring permanent residence through marriage to a US citizen
- An overview of a K-1 visa application
- What to watch out for when marrying a US citizen
Acquiring Permanent Residence Through Marriage to a US Citizen
Like most people know, marriage to either a lawful permanent resident or US citizen will allow immigrants to apply for a US green card and acquire lawful permanent residence. Due to high demand, almost all US green cards have caps or wait times, but these do not apply to a permanent residence card obtained through marriage to a citizen of the United States.
When getting a green card through marriage, your US citizen fiance must have sufficient enough assets and income to support you at the required level. The US immigration laws of 1996 outline financial requirements for a United States citizen to help their fiance apply for a green card.
A Form I-864 Affidavit of Support must be filled out, proving the citizen’s ability to support the immigrant at a level exceeding the US Poverty Guidelines. In general, citizens must promise the US government to keep their non-US spouse for approximately ten years.
An Overview of a K-1 Visa Application
A K-1 or fiancé visa grants permission to a foreigner engaged to marry a US citizen to enter the United States to get married. For the fiancé to get a K-1 visa, the applicant must file Form I-129F with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS Office).
If the petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the US consulate in the home country of the person immigrating for a thorough review. An immigration officer will then schedule an immigration interview to take place at the consulate.
If a fiancé visa is successfully issued, the immigrant has six months to enter the United States and then another 90 days to marry a US citizen.
When the United States Supreme Court overturned a federal law called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, same-sex marriages were treated like any other marriage for federal immigration law purposes. However, a foreign national applying to get a green card will still need to ensure that the marriage is legally recognized in the country or state or where it took place.
What to Watch Out for When Marrying a US Citizen
While a green card through marriage is ideal in many ways, it is not uncommon for an individual of a different nationality to be denied an immigrant visa. The USCIS office may deny a visa application for several reasons, and the following steps to take depend mainly on the reason behind the denial of the green card application.
If you are getting a green card through marriage, you could be asked to prove that the union was bona fide, and immigration officers may request documentation in addition to the marriage certificate. If you cannot provide supporting documents, you will be deemed ineligible, and the permanent resident status application will be formally denied.
The services of a knowledgeable family immigration lawyer will especially be crucial if your spouse is currently in the United States but has no valid visa. They may find themselves in deportation or removal proceedings, and they may be deported. This is why it is essential to get legal advice from trusted immigration attorneys before taking any steps. Filling out USCIS forms and other paperwork is something that you should not take lightly.
Talk to a Woodlands Immigration Attorney Today!
A foreigner applying for a green card should take extra caution when preparing and submitting paperwork to the relevant government agency. For questions about visas and your immigrant visa application, consular processing and adjustment of status, conditional green cards, legal permanent resident status, or removal of conditions, give our Texas immigration law firm a call. Contact us at Luis F. Hess, PLLC, and consult with an experienced Woodlands immigration attorney.