A foreign national who is married to a United States citizen is eligible to apply immediately for permanent residency (Green Card). The processing time is reasonably fast because the application is processed under the immediate relative category and visas are immediately available.
The marriage must be a “good faith”(genuine) marriage. The marriage must not be entered into by the parties solely for the purpose of falsely acquiring immigration benefits. It is the responsibility of the petitioner and beneficiary to prove that their marriage is a good faith marriage. This is where many petitioners make mistake. They wrongly assume that because their marriage is a genuine marriage, they do not need to show proof.
The immigration officer (although well trained to detect “sham marriages”) has no crystal ball that shows them good or bad faith marriage. They adjudicate based on the evidence provided at the time the petition is submitted and at the interview.
Unfortunately, some applications based on genuine marriages have been denied because the evidence was not properly put together.
The following documents will be needed to show proof of a good faith marriage:
Photographs of the couple together and with friends and family at various occasions and events; Evidence that both spouses have named the other as beneficiary in any life insurance policies; evidence of joint health or vehicle insurance; Evidence that the couple co-mingles their assets, such as joint bank account statements, joint credit card bills; copies of mail addressed to the couple at the marital residence.
Any previous criminal or immigration violations by the foreign national may be problematic; but the foreign national may be able to apply for waiver(s) to waive those grounds of inadmissibility.
If there are criminal issues, I would recommend that you see an immigration attorney prior to filing. If the foreign national is in the United States, they can file for adjustment of status concurrently and also request work authorization while the application is being processed. If the application is approved, the foreign national will be issued the Permanent Resident card.
You will become eligible to file for citizenship after three years of having the Green Card and being married to a United States citizen.
The content of this article is intended for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice.
Those seeking specific legal advice should contact Gertrude Onuoha Esq. at 575 Lexington Ave, 4th Fl. NY NY 10022 (PHONE) 212-971-9704 or 7326425605)
Gertrude Onuoha Esq. is the founder of the law offices of Gertrude Onuoha, P.C. She has practiced law for over 17 years. She has great depth of experience and a successful track record in handling immigration.
She is admitted to practice law in the state of New York and has a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the New York Bar Association.