How to get a green card through marriage
These stories usually begin as in a romantic movie: met online, corresponded, met in person, and he (although she also happens) called to live overseas. Legal marriage with a US citizen entitles a foreign citizen to apply for a green card, and after 3, after receiving it, even become a citizen of America. Together with a foreign spouse or spouse, her or his children can obtain a residence permit up to 21.
Get the right to live legally in the United States can be married to the green card holderHowever, the process in such a case may take several years. For spouses of US citizens, there are no queues for obtaining a residence permit and, as a rule, they are given a green card within six months.
Like any immigration process in the United States, this one is not easy, and requires a whole stack of documents and a successful interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Service, where you need to prove that the marriage is real.
How to collect all the necessary documents, what points you need to pay special attention to and how many joint photos you need to show to the migration officer - ForumDaily has compiled detailed instructions for issuing a green card through marriage for you.
Russian-American love story
They have a long history of relationships at a distance, a lot of guest visits to a friend for a friend, and common photos already occupy several albums. Muscovite Julia Abelev never specifically sought a foreign husband, said their meeting was a happy coincidence.
“I met my husband through mutual acquaintances, we started to visit each other, saw each other every few months. And then he invited me to come to him in New York and try to live together. I already had a tourist visa, I took 2 children and came to him, ”Yulia recalls.
During the cohabitation, the couple finally realized that she wanted to be together. Therefore, during the second Yulina’s visit to the United States, the then future husband proposed to her, and after a month and a half the couple signed. Since the tourist visa allowed her to stay in the country of 6 for months, the newly-made family managed to go on vacation and only then began the process of issuing a green card.
But Tatyana Jackson from Novosibirsk came to her future husband in Arizona on a bride's visa. They met online, corresponded for 2 years, and she finally decided to move. “Our relationship began 4 years ago, met on a dating site, he came to me. And I tried twice to get a tourist visa, but I was refused twice, ”says Tatiana.
According to the terms of the bride's visa, the couple either completes the relationship within 90 days or the girl returns to her homeland. Therefore, the wedding was played in a month and a half.
After the celebration, both Yulia and Tatiana began a long process of collecting and submitting documents for a temporary green card.
The process of registration of the green card: the stages and the necessary documents
To get a green card through a marriage, you need to go through several stages. For starters, apply for a change of status. This means that you must send a large set of documents to the Citizenship and Immigration Services.
First of all, you need to fill out forms from the Citizenship and Immigration Services website:
- Form I-130 (Petition of Alien Relative) - it is filled in by a US citizen, thereby recognizing his kinship with the person to whom this petition is being submitted. The fee for this form is $ 420. For a child of a foreign citizen, such a form is filled out separately;
- Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) - an application for granting a permanent resident status to a foreigner. The fee is $ 985 per form plus $ 85 for biometric collection. Separately, this form is filled in for the child of a foreign citizen;
- G-325 and G-325A Forms (Biographic Information) - biographical data of both spouses. ABOUTIt is also completed for the child of a foreign citizen. You do not need to pay for submitting this form;
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) - it is filled in by a US citizen (sponsor) and thereby undertakes to support a foreign spouse. The sponsor can be not only the American spouse directly, but also any of the relatives or even acquaintances living in the United States. This form is free;
- Form I-765 (Permission for Work Authorization) - a request by a foreigner to obtain a work permit in the United States. Duty - $385;
- Form I-693 (Medical Examination Results) - the conclusion of the medical board. You do not need to pay for the form itself, for an appointment with a doctor is a must. It is important to remember that you can contact only those doctors who are certified by the Citizenship and Immigration Service. You can find such here... It is better that you already have the entire list of vaccinations (in English) that you received earlier. And one more nuance - you will receive the results of the examination in a closed envelope that cannot be opened;
- Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure record) - a record of the arrival of a foreigner in the country. You can print from the site;
Personal documents (copies) for a US citizen:
- Certificate of birth or naturalization;
- Marriage certificate;
- Certificate of all divorces, if any;
- Two photos;
- Tax forms and proof of solvency - tax returns for at least the last year, but preferably for 3 years, account statements, documents from work about how much a person earns (this must be at least 125% of state subsistence minimum... That is, if a family of 2 people, the sponsor must have an annual income of at least $ 20 thousand, if there are 4 members in the family - about $ 30,5 thousand).
Personal documents (copies) for a foreign citizen:
- Birth certificate - copy of the original and translation into English. You do not need to notarize the translation. It can be done by anyone who speaks two required languages. At the end of the translation, it is important to write: Affidavit of Translation “I,… .., hereby certify that I am competent to translate from Ukrainian (or Russian etc. - here you substitute the original language. - Auth.) To English, and that the foregoing is a true and accurate translation of the original ”. And don't forget to sign and date;
- Passports - national and foreign. The latter contains copies of all visas;
- The certificate of marriage and all divorces, if any, with a translation into English;
- 6 color photos;
- All documents that you have already received in the United States - driver's license, social security number;
- Criminal record - if a person was previously arrested, extracts are needed, for what and when;
- If the surname has changed after the marriage, the explanation in a free form, when and on what basis it happened.
It is important not just to collect all these documents, but to fill everything as thoroughly as possible, says Lana Schimmel, an immigration lawyer from New York.
“The questionnaires must be filled out very carefully. This is especially important for people who have already been in the United States for some time and had some kind of immigration cases - all forms must match the information that you provided to the Citizenship and Immigration Service before, ”explains Lana Schimmel.
Yulia Abelev knows how to thoroughly check each letter. When they began the process of issuing a green card, they decided to immediately turn to a lawyer, and he reassigned the case to his assistant. She made an inadmissible error in the documents.
“In my passport, my name is written as Iulia, to which this assistant suggested that I write down as Yulia in all documents, they say, there will be a normal name. I was still surprised and asked: is it possible? She answered yes. And this is where my problems began - I came to take fingerprints, show my passport, they say to me: why is Yulia taking your fingerprints, and you show your documents to Iulia? ”Says Yulia.
The girl had to prove that this is the same person, bring documents that confirmed that she uses two types of spelling of her name, and, as a result, all forms had to be re-filled in the name that was indicated in her passport. “By that time, I had already managed to get a driver's license, received a social security number, a work permit, and other documents, which then had to be redone,” she continues.
When the entire package of documents is assembled, it must be packed in a box and sent to one of the reception centers of the Citizenship and Immigration Services. List can see here. Also, do not be lazy to make a copy of each document that you send, and save a spare package of documents.
After 2-3 weeks, a notification should be sent by mail that the documents have been accepted for consideration, and after a month or two - an invitation to submit biometric data. The letter will contain the address, date and time. You need to take your passport with you.
Interview: what you need to be ready
Despite numerous advice on thematic forums on immigration, lawyer Lana Schimmel says: in the first set of documents no evidence that your marriage is real is required. Moreover, migration officers will not consider such documents.
But you must bring them to the interview. Here the list is not clear, the main thing is that the Immigration Service does not have any questions about the veracity of your relationship. The more evidence you can provide, the better.
Documents may be as follows:
- joint bank accounts (take bank statements, if there are general credit cards, you need to make a photocopy of two cards on one sheet of paper);
- one residential address (you can provide a driver's license, ID cards of a specific city, membership in local clubs - any documents on which a joint residential address would be written);
- a lease agreement in which the names of both spouses are entered;
- Receipts for utilities for both names;
- a letter from the landlord in which he confirms that the spouses live together;
- photos (joint, with friends; it is better to provide those that were before the wedding, during and after);
- a letter from the employer stating that the employee’s marital status has changed, and his spouse (s) is listed in the list of emergency contacts;
- general medical insurance;
- printouts of correspondence between spouses (letters, greeting cards, correspondence in social networks);
- proof of joint ownership of the car;
- evidence of large purchases that the pair made together (equipment);
- travel together (listing of hotel reservations, ticket purchases);
- a letter from relatives or neighbors who can confirm that you are indeed a couple. “I asked the neighbors who lived nearby to write such a letter. The form is arbitrary, ”says Tatiana Jackson.
And Yulia Abelev also attached certificates from the school, where her children have already begun to go: “I collected all the documents for the children - from birth certificates to certificates from the school, where it was indicated that they were attending the school at our place of residence”.
The list of documents that you need to take with you usually comes with the invitation, but you need to start collecting them much earlier - literally immediately after submitting the first package of documents, advises lawyer Lana Schimmel.
“The officer does not know you, does not live with you in the house, so he can make a decision based on 2 things: the documents that you give him, and how the couple behaves in front of him, how they answer questions. Most of the attention is paid to joint documents, especially of a financial nature: joint bank accounts, credit cards, joint tax returns, wills on each other, health insurance, documents that confirm that you have used these insurance. This is what they are looking at, ”explains the lawyer.
Tatiana Jackson did exactly as the lawyer advises - she began to collect evidence in advance:
“When I arrived in the USA, I immediately started collecting it all. If we went somewhere with children - my husband has children from a previous marriage - I immediately took a photo. We had a lot of correspondence, SMS - I printed them out, dated them. All photos were signed - who is in the photo, date, event. I collected a lot of evidence, the officer even said that she had never seen such a complete package of documents. "
Yulia Abelev went to an interview not only with her husband, but also with 2 children from a previous marriage. He says they brought 5 photo albums on 100 photos in each, all the documents that confirm the financial viability of the husband, and regularly answered all the questions of the officers.
“My youngest daughter, who at that time was 4 years old, said in the middle of the interview that she was very tired and asked my husband to kneel. The officer looked at this - and somehow his ardor had already died away. It was clear that people definitely live together, ”says Yulia.
At the end of the interview, the officer can say right away whether the green card is approved or not. Sometimes the notification of the results of the interview comes later by mail. And if the answer is no, there is very little chance that the case will not be closed, says lawyer Lana Schimmel.
“If, for example, the forms are filled out incorrectly, the documents are not enough, or they are not drawn up as needed, the officer can immediately refuse and close your case. Only good officers give the opportunity to bring some documents. Sometimes. The chances of a successful appeal if you really did not provide all the documents are zero. You will only spend a couple of years, ”the lawyer says.
A positive answer means that the foreigner receives a temporary green card for 2 years, which must be changed to a 3-year one at least 10 months before the expiration date. “Again, you collect all the documents that you were together for 2 years - all bills, credit cards, the lease for the apartment. And usually in 80-90% of cases they do not call for an interview, a permanent green card comes by mail, ”continues Lana Schimmel.
How to be in case of force majeure (divorce, death of a spouse, domestic violence)
Tatiana Jackson from Arizona says that jokingly a green card through marriage between women is called “slave” because they are completely dependent on the husband who sponsors it.
In fact, the capabilities of the American citizen are too exaggerated. A foreigner can apply for a permanent green card in case of divorce, the main thing is to live together for at least 6 months, says lawyer Lana Schimmel. “You just need to point out that you have lived together for so long, but the family broke up, you get divorced and describe the circumstances why you separated. And you also need all the documents confirming that for some time you still lived together. In this case, the chances of getting a green card are very real, ”the lawyer continues.
She also assures that the threats of the foreign husband that he will revoke the documents for the green card also have nothing to do with the law:
“He will say that his petitions and joint documents were all lies, that he was lying to the Citizenship and Immigration Service? He will also expose himself in this case. That is, he cannot substitute his wife without substituting himself. It's just one of the manipulations that citizen spouses can use against their other half. ”
If it happens that an American spouse dies, his wife, a holder of a temporary green card, has the opportunity to apply for a permanent one under a separate category - “widow / widower”. And in this case, it is important to prove that you really married with the aim of starting a family.
Domestic violence is also categorized as a separate category. That is, if a woman gathers evidence that a US husband is applying physical violence to her, she can also apply for a permanent green card on her own. The evidence in this case may be police reports, certificates from doctors about their stay in the hospital, photos of beatings, testimony.
One way or another, to have an unlucky marriage just for the sake of a green card Lana Schimmel does not recommend:
“Being married is hard, and being married with a green card still hanging over your head is even more difficult. Therefore, I always tell my clients - it is better to get out of such a marriage than to endure and bring the situation to a tragedy. "
It is also important to remember that a woman who arrived on a bride's visa can only marry the person who sponsored this visa for her. Otherwise, she will not receive a green card.
If everything turned out well, then after 3, after receiving a temporary green card, you have the right to apply for citizenship.
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