|Posted on September 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM|
Marriage to a U.S. Citizen does not automatically confer American citizenship status to their immigrant spouse. Like most immigration process, an immigrant spouse will have to file for permanent residency through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One advantage to being married to a U.S. Citizen is that the immigrant spouse would be classified as an immediate relative and will not be subject to preference categories and their accompanying priority date backlogs, since immigrant visas are always available under the immediate relative category.
There must be a showing of a bonafide marriage at the the time it was performed, a bonafide marital relationship and that it was not entered into solely for procuring an immigration benefit. The mere existence of a marriage certificate will not be enough to establish a bona fide marital relationship. Evidence of a bonafide marriage include many or all of the following: signed affidavits from friends and relatives attesting to the authenticity of the relationship; love letters, holiday cards and photos. In cases where the foreign national is already in the United States, it may be expected that the couple live together. USCIS will expect to see comingling of funds through joint bank accounts, joint tax filings, joint utility bills and joint leases or mortgages. The birth certificate of children born into the marriage will also be strong evidence of a bona fide relationship.
The process begins with a comprehensive package to the USCIS. The main two forms are: I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and I-485, Application to Adjust Status. In addition to form I- 130, the U.S. Citizen and foreign national spouse must each complete form G-325A which provides general biographical information. Additional ancillary forms to be submitted include I-693, Medical Exam Results and I-864, Affidavit of Support. Lastly, to establish or preserve employment eligibility and travel privileges (especially if the foreign national will not continue to maintain their nonimmigrant status or is not in current nonimmigrant status), other forms that may be submitted include: I-765, Application for Employment Eligibility and I-131, Application for Advance Parole.
Caution: Once an application for adjustment of status has been filed, the applicant may not be able to depart the U.S. until advance parole is issued. Should an applicant depart the U.S. while the application is pending, but before advance parole is issued, they may be considered to have abandoned their application to adjust status.
The final step of the marriage-based adjustment of status application is the adjustment of status interview. At this interview a USCIS Officer will interview the couple, go over any questions or concerns regarding the application packet and determine whether or not the couple's marriage is bonafide. If the officer believes that the foreign national is admissible and that the marriage is bonafide the officer may grant the adjustment of status application right there by stamping the foreign national's valid passport with an I-551 stamp indicating that they are a lawful permanent resident, or more commonly, the officer will decide at a later date usually within 30 days, and the I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card or "greencard" will be sent to the foreign national by mail. If the couple has been married for less than two years, the Lawful Permanent Resident Card will be a two year conditional card. The foreign national must again prove that the marriage was bonafide after two years by filing form I-751 with proof that the marriage was bonafide within 90 days of the card's expiration. If the couple has been married for more than two years prior to the adjustment of status, the foreign national will be issued a Lawful Permanent Resident Card without conditions. The card itself will need to be renewed every 10 years, but the foreign national will be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship in three years if they remain married.
For information regarding Adjustment of Status Click here to complete our Questionnaire. This Questionnaire must be completed by each adult member of the family before we can schedule a telephonic or Skype consultation with you. The information submitted with this form will be kept strictly confidential.