Green Card Through Marriage – 5 Things You Should Know
One of the most common methods of applying for permanent residency in the U.S. is the green card through marriage application. Foreign spouses of U.S. citizens are eligible to submit a green card through marriage application based on their marriage to their U.S. citizen spouse. Unlike other family members, a spouse is considered an “immediate relative” and therefore is not subject to a wait for a green card. In addition, an immediate relative application, such as a marriage green card application, is one of the few immigration applications that provide a “cure” to certain immigration violations, such as unlawful presence or overstaying a visa. This “cure” is particularly attractive to those who are out of status or who have violated their status. In fact, for many foreign nationals, the marriage to a U.S. citizen is their only option of becoming a permanent resident U.S.
It should be noted that a green card through marriage application is not without risks. If not pursued with a high degree of care and caution, the results can be quite harsh. Consequences range from financial loss from application filing fees and a delay of processing to immigration court and removal proceedings, and in some rare cases, criminal prosecution for those whose marriage is not “bona fide”. For these reasons it is imperative to pursue your application with the highest amount of care possible.
Please see the below for 5 things every person should consider when applying for a green card through marriage:
- Your marriage must be “Bona Fide”: The marriage between you and your spouse needs to be real and entered into for love. The marriage cannot have been entered into for the purpose of receiving a green card or evading any provision of immigration laws. Marriage fraud is a federal crime and each spouse is potentially subject to a penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The non-U.S. spouse will likely be deported and banned from the U.S. for 10 years.
- The marriage must be legal: This means that both parties are free to marry, all prior divorces have been legally recognized, and the marriage is recognized as legal in the jurisdiction where it took place.
- You must have entered the country with inspection: This is important because if you entered the country without being inspected, you are generally (245(i) may help you out) not eligible to submit an application as an immediate relative through marriage. Likewise, if you entered the U.S. as a crewman you can also not submit an application based on marriage.
- You must be admissible: This is particularly important as committing certain crimes may make you ineligible for the process. In addition, partaking in certain illicit activities or admitting to certain activities may also make you inadmissible.
- You should understand the implications of being out of status: While it is true that a green card through marriage application can cure unlawful presence or overstaying a visa, it can also cause you to be put in removal proceedings if your application is denied. This is why it is so important to carefully prepare your application. A denial for a simple error could result in immigration court and a whole other slew of issues requiring more time and money.
The above is by no means exhaustive and is only meant to give you an idea of some things to think about when considering the marriage green card process.