Permanent Residency Through Marriage

Green Card Through Marriage

One of the questions we receive most often is: Can I become a permanent resident of the United States through my US citizen or permanent resident spouse? The answer is yes. Marriage is a legitimate way to immigrate to the country and even obtain citizenship afterwards.

What is a marriage visa?

A marriage visa allows foreign national spouses of US citizens and green card holders to immigrate to the US and live with their spouses. The K-3 visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa created to allow the foreign spouse to enter the United States and apply for a green card once he/she is in the country. On the other hand, IR-1/CR-1 Visas are immigrant visas issued by US Consulate abroad to foreign spouses of US citizens and legal permanent residents that result in the issuance of a green card once the immigrant enters the US.

Applying for a Marriage Visa

Immigration authorities are particularly strict with this type of visa due to the large number of sham marriages that have occurred in the past. Obtaining a marriage visa can be a very frustrating process without the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.

First, you should know that the burden of proof is on you and your partner. You must present evidence showing that you are in a bona fide marriage and that you intend to build a life together in the United States. Among the evidence that may help substantiate your case is:

  • Joint credit cards or bank accounts
  • Joint utility bills
  • Evidence of years of joint communication
  • Photos of trips together
  • Affidavits from family and friends
  • Letters from third parties addressed to you and your spouse at the same address
  • Joint insurance policies
  • Documents showing that your spouse is your emergency contact
  • Joint tax returns

Questions? Visit our page about family-based immigration.

Marriage Visa Application Process

The first step in the marriage visa application process is to establish the marital relationship through Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Along with the form, you must attach documentation to prove:

  • That the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • and
  • That there is a legal marriage and that your marriage is not fraudulent.

Understanding the legal ramifications of each question on the form, filling out this form properly with the help of an attorney, and substantiating it with relevant evidence, is key in the outcome of your case. A mistake will not only cause your application to be rejected, but it could also result in a fraud investigation.

Once you have filed Form I-130, some cases are scheduled for an interview and the next step is to determine your spouse's eligibility for residency. This step varies depending on whether your spouse is in the U.S. or abroad.

Applicants within the U.S must file Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status. They must also include proof of lawful entry to the country, a USCIS-approved medical examination, and proof that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the applicant, among other lesser requirements. This application in some cases may be completed concurrently with the Form I-130 to mitigate the processing delays.

Applicants abroad must submit Form DS-260 and send an application package to the National Visa Center, which will then refer them to an interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In addition to the evidence mentioned before, they must also include a police clearance certificate, among other lesser requirements.

Under normal circumstances, the application processing time is usually 3-9 months, although due to the Covid-19 pandemic processing times have extended to 12-18 months in some cases.

Finally, once the forms have been processed and the authorities have reviewed the evidence, you and your spouse may be interviewed at a local USCIS office or the nearest consular post.

Although government fees are relatively high visa compared to other visa categories, approval rates for authentic marriages are also high.


Green Card Through Marriage Visas


Why Could Your Marriage Visa Application Be Rejected?

Some of the mistakes that can jeopardize your marriage visa application include:

  • Filling out forms incorrectly.
  • Marriage legality issues.
  • Insufficient financial resources.
  • Background security issues.
  • Medical, alcohol or drug abuse related issues.

Differences Between the IR1 and CR1 Marriage Visas

Although they provide similar benefits, the IR1 and CR1 visas serve different purposes.

The CR1 (Conditional Resident) visa is intended for applicants who have been married for less than 2 years. It is conditional and valid for 2 years, after which the beneficiary must apply to remove the conditions and receive a 10-year permanent resident card.

On the other hand, the IR1 (Immediate Relative) visa is granted to applicants who have been married for over 2 years. It is not subject to any conditions and is valid for 10 years.

The IR1 and CR1 visas require the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Obtain resident status requires the filing of an application for adjustment of status or consular processing of the immigrant visa.

Unsure if you qualify for a marriage visa? Contact us!

Proving the authenticity of the marriage is critical in these cases, and since any mistake can jeopardize the process, your best bet is to seek the support of an experienced immigration team. Contact Symphorien-Saavedra Law at 407-802-1717 and schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys. Frank Symphorien-Saavedra, our founder, is Board Certified as expert in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Florida Bar and has helped many couples over the years.

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Orlando Immigration Lawyer - Frank Symphorien-Saavedra

Symphorien-Saavedra Law, P.A. is a diverse team of immigrants who are dedicated to helping immigrants, small businesses, and investors.

(*) This information is provided for general purposes and is not a substitute for individualized advice. You should schedule a consultation to discuss your particular situation.