Can I Become a U.S. Permanent Resident Through My Spouse?

The simple answer is yes. You may have heard of “green card marriages” through the media or people you know. “Green cards” is the unofficial term for permanent resident cards. Our Orlando Green Card has handled hundreds of adjustments of status cases and immigrant visa through consular process for spouses of American Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Oftentimes, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) greatly scrutinizes adjustment of status via marriage cases for fraud. Unfortunately, many couples face difficult interviews, requests for evidence, and denials if their case is not properly handled. It is critical for many couples that their case is handled carefully. Orlando Immigration attorneys at Mubarak Law have overcome many accusations of fraud against our clients. Even real couples can be accused of fraud if the case is not presented properly.

The Requirements for Obtaining Permanent Residency (“Green Card”) Through Marriage

Besides the negative views sometimes associated with green card marriages, the truth is, it is a great option for many couples who wish to build a life together in the U.S. If you are married to an American citizen or permanent resident, your spouse can petition (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) USCIS to approve a visa or adjustment for your benefit.

For many individuals currently in the United States and married to a U.S. citizen, the I-130 can be filed simultaneously with the Adjustment of Status Application (Form 1-485). WARNING: In general, all potential applicants should consult with an immigration attorney prior to proceeding with filing an application. Filing an application incorrectly can possible lead to: a denial (loss of fees), a finding of fraud, and/or the initiation of removal proceedings.

For individuals residing abroad but married to a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, the U.S. citizen/Resident spouse will file the I-130 first with USCIS within the United States. Once approved, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center. At the National Visa Center, immigrant forms will be completed for the beneficiary, as well as an affidavit of support by the Petitioner.  It is important to be informed. Contact Attorney Mubarak in Orlando to assist you and your family with their marriage petition process.

Please note that each I-130 petition requires, at minimum (1) , proof of the following:

  • That the Petitioner spouse is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • That there is a legally valid marriage between the petitioner and the beneficiary of the application (prior divorces are required);
  • That the marriage is a bona fide marriage (evidence of the relationship); and
  • Government filing Fee

Orlando Marriage Visa Attorney

 

PROVING U.S. CITIZENSHIP OR PERMANENT RESIDENCY

Copies of the following documents may prove U.S. citizenship for this purpose:

  • U.S. birth certificate;
  • Unexpired U.S. passport;
  • U.S. naturalization certificate;
  • Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, issued by a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate; or
  • Verification of U.S. citizenship and passport in an original statement from a U.S. Consular officer.

Copies of the following documents may prove permanent residency in the U.S. for this purpose:

  • Front and back of your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551);
  • Passport biographic page showing admission as a lawful permanent resident; or
  • Any other evidence issued by USCIS or INS. 

If the U.S. citizen or Resident Petitioner immigrated or naturalized in the United States and the basis of their immigration history or naturalization was based on a previous marriage, it would be wise to consult with an immigration attorney.  Orlando Immigration Lawyer Nayef Mubarak has defended many clients after USCIS has accused the U.S. petitioner of obtaining their status in the U.S. via fraud after they initiated a petition for their new spouse.

PROVING A LEGALLY VALID MARRIAGE EXISTS

For purposes of this petition, a legally valid marriage is one that is recognized by the government in the state or country where it occurred. Legal marriages where a certificate was issued will satisfy this requirement. The same may be true for marriages occurring in churches or through tribal practices. While domestic partnerships are not normally recognized, common law marriages will be sufficient if they are valid in the place they occurred. Essentially, if you can prove that the marriage is recognized where it took place, it will be recognized by USCIS for this petition. Since DOMA was overturned in 2012, same sex spouses are also eligible to file I-130 petitions. Attorney Mubarak has successfully represented members of the LGBTQ community with their marriage cases ever since.

In addition to proof that the marriage exists, applicant and beneficiary spouse must both submit proof that any prior marriages were terminated. This can be shown by submitting copies of divorce decrees or death certificates for prior spouses.  If you were not present for your divorce, you should consult with an immigration attorney.

DEMONSTRATING A BONA FIDE MARRIAGE

USCIS will not approve a marriage-based petitions solely because a legal marriage exists. USCIS requires evidence that the marriage is bona fide. In other words, USCIS wants proof that the couple is building a life together. There are several ways to show that you have a bona fide marriage, and you should prepare as much evidence as possible to show the authenticity of your relationship. An experienced immigration attorney can assist you in collecting the evidence you need.

In establishing a bona fide marriage, evidence of combined finances is an excellent tool. Any of the following can be used to show combined assets and liabilities:

  • Joint bank account statements;
  • Joint credit card statements;
  • Title or deeds for property jointly owned;
  • Proof of joint liability on a mortgage or loan;
  • Life insurance policies with the other spouse as beneficiary;
  • Joint health, home, or vehicle insurance policies.

Other useful evidence shows that the couple reside together. This is important since living apart is sure to raise major concerns with USCIS. Proof of joint residence can be established through:

  • Mortgage or lease agreement showing both names;
  • Utility or bills in both spouse’s names;
  • Drivers licenses showing the same address for both spouses.

There are many other types of evidence that you can submit to USCIS to prove the authenticity of your relationship.  We highly recommend speaking to an experienced immigration attorney who can give you individualized advice for your case.

Attorney Nayef A. Mubarak is highly experienced with I-130 petitions and will be happy to assist you in submitting the evidence you need to have your petition approved. This publication is for informational purposes only and cannot cover all possible scenarios. For example, the process varies depending on whether the beneficiary spouse is abroad or already living in the U.S.  You do not have to navigate this difficult process alone. Contact our office today to speak with an experienced immigration attorney.

We offer a free phone consultation at (407) 502-3000. You may also fill out our online form located on this page and we will get back to you shortly. We have a 24-hour emergency service. Your privacy is very important to us and we will keep your information confidential.

Please read a list of successful cases handled by Orlando Attorney Nayef A. Mubarak including marriages, VAWA abuse petitions, gay and lesbian marriages, and Removal of Condition Waivers (I-751 Petitions).

K-3 Visa (Marriage Visa)

K-3 Visas are for spouses of U.S. citizens who want to enter the U.S. under non-immigrant status, while waiting for approval of an immigrant visa or I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). The process allows the Non-U.S. citizen spouse to enter the U.S. sooner.

Requirements to qualify for the K-3 Visa

  • You must be the spouse of a U.S. Citizen;
  • Have a submitted I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen spouse; and
  • Have a completed I129F (Petition for Alien Fiancée).

 

Conditional Permanent Resident - receives a green card valid for 2 years. In order to remain a permanent resident, a conditional permanent resident must file a petition, form I-751  to remove the condition during the 90 days before the card expires. The conditional card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed or you will lose your permanent resident status.

 


(1) This is not a complete list or guide for filing.  Please refer to instructions to the I-130, which can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-130.

Contact Us!

 

Mubarak Law

Mubarak Law
105 E. Robinson St. suite 307
Orlando - Florida 32801
Tel: 407 502-3000
Fax: 407 650-3308

Immigration Law Articles