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to a us citizen

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the quickest routes in obtaining permanent residence and citizenship in the U.S. Although not automatic, there are various steps within the process which include application forms, a medical examination, fingerprinting, and numerous approvals. For some, this can create significant, long-term immigration issues.

I. Apply for a Green Card through Marriage

The process begins with the U.S. citizen filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). This allows you to establish the existence of a valid relationship between you and your intended spouse as well as requesting a visa reserved. When I-130 is approved, it means the government acknowledges your relationship.

Depending on family-based immigration, immediate relatives are given some priority over other relationships. While preference categories has limits on the number of people who can obtain a green card and may take severals years to obtain a visa number, spouses of US citizens who are present in the U.S. may be able to apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident in concurrence with Form I-130. This allows USCIS to expedite process of case and make a quick decision. The typical adjustment of status includes:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

  • Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse beneficiary

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

May also require, additional supporting documents.


Basic eligibility of a marriage to a U.S. citizen requires:

  • Legal marriage (from any country);

  • Neither spouse is married to someone else simultaneously

BUT, there are also other requirements such as bona fides of marriage, periods of unlawful presence, grounds for inadmissibility, and use of prior non-immigrant visas.

III. valid marriage

  1. Getting a green card through marriage is closely looked at by the USCIS in case of a fraudulent marriage. Therefore, it is necessary to give genuine evidence of your marriage and intention to remain together. A few examples of acceptable forms of evidence are:

  2. Documents proving co-mingling of financial resources (Ex. Joint bank accounts, credit card statements, tax returns, insurance policies, loans, etc.

  3. Documents showing joint ownership (Ex. Home, car(s), etc.).

  4. Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born into the marriage

  5. Having many other supporting documents can help strengthen your case and it is important that you include name of both spouses.

IV. Grounds of Inadmissibility

Anyone who applies to enter the U.S. is automatically checked for inadmissibility, meaning people with prior history or connection with criminal or terrorist activities, drug abuse, infectious medical issues, or other characteristics are not allowed to enter. Some other examples of inadmissibility include people with:

  • Communicable disease like tuberculosis (Waiver)

  • Physical or mental disorders who are a harm to others and/or themselves (Waiver)

  • Drug abusers or addicts (No waiver)

  • Drug traffickers (No waiver)

  • No proper vaccinations (Waiver)

  • Convictions for crimes (Waiver)

  • Violations against immigration laws (Waiver)

  • Prostitutes (Waiver)

  • Multiple criminal convictions (Waiver)

  • Spies, Terrorists, Nazis (No waivers)

  • Dependents on need-based government assistance (Waiver)

V. wrongful intent

It is important to understand the meaning of “wrongful intent”, from the U.S.’s perspective, it is their understanding that your spouse intends to return to their country of origin by issuing a non-immigrant visa. But if alien uses non-immigrant visa to gain entry by adjusting status, this is considered visa fraud. This includes using marriage, which will be denied if misused.In addition, application of I-130 and I-485 could be denied if your spouse has the intention of staying permanently.

Vi. FiANCés Use a Different Path

This concise summary is primarily for married couples. Couples who are engaged have a different process by obtaining the K-1 visa through filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance. Within 90 days of arriving, the couple must get married and the alien fiancé must adjust status to a permanent resident.



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No Legal Advice is Intended: This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.

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