IMMIGRATION THROUGH MARRIAGE TO AN AMERICAN CITIZEN
I just married an American citizen. (I'm so excited.) Now what?
How do I get my green card?
Congratulations. Obtaining your permanent residency based on your marriage will depend on a number of factors. First of all, how did you enter the United States? If you entered with inspection (i.e. presented your passport and visa to an immigration officer, it is likely that you can obtain residency through Adjustment of Status (i.e. without leaving the United States).
What if I entered illegally (without inspection)?
Then you will probably have to leave the United States and obtain residency through what is known as consular processing. This means you will have to apply for your green card at an American Embassy abroad. In most cases, this will be in the country in which you were born. You may also have to apply for an I-601 waiver if you have been unlawfully present in the United States for over 180 days.
What will happen at the interview?
If you are applying for adjustment of status, (through form I-485), there will likely be an interview to determine whether or not you truly have a bona fide (i.e. genuine, legitimate, real) marriage. The officer may ask questions concerning how you met, when you decided to get married, recent activities, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Individuals over the years have asked our office about the possibility of getting married for immigration purposes only. It cannot be overemphasized that the penalties for "marriage fraud" are extremely severe. Both the citizen and the alien can be punished civilly and criminally. In addition, if the alien is found to have engaged in "marriage fraud," he or she will be forever barred from immigration to the United States.
At the Law Offices of Curtis Pierce, we advise our clients and potential clients that if the marriage in question is anything less than a good faith marriage (i.e. for love and other traditional reasons associated with marriage, and with the intention of staying together forever), don't even think about getting married and filing immigration papers.
Relax, counselor. It's a real marriage. What else are they concerned about?
Finances. Your spouse will have to submit an affidavit of support indicating that he or she has the financial means to support you. It will be necessary to show that his/her income is above the poverty guidelines. If you have been residing together for the past six months, your income may also be considered in this document.
What if we are both students and not working at the time being?
In that case, you will need a co-sponsor to also submit an affidavit of support, form I-864.
What are they agreeing to by signing an affidavit of support?
In signing an affidavit of support, the co-sponsor is promising to reimburse the American government if you go on welfare during the next 10 years.
What are the forms involved?
The main forms are as follows:
I-130 (Immediate Relative Petition, filed by one spouse on behalf of the other)
I-485 (Application for Adjusment of Status, application for the green card)
I-485A (Application for Adjustment of Status Supplement, if you did not enter with inspection with have the benefits of 245(i), you need to pay this.)
G-325A (Biographic Information, completed by both spouses.)
I-765 (Application fo Employment Authorization)
I-131 (Application for Advance Parole, but only if there has not been unlawful presence.)
What are the fees for these forms?
I-130 (Immediate Relative Petition) $355.00
I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status) $1,010.00 (if over 14, this fee includes the $80.00 biometric fee)
G-325A (Biographic Information) no fee
I-765 (Application fo Employment Authorization) Included when applying for adjustment of stauts otherwise $340.00
I-131 (Application for Advance Parole, but only if there has not been unlawful presence.) included when applying for adjustment of status, otherwise $305.00
TOTAL IN MOST CASES: $1365.00
What kind of documents should be bring to the interview?
You should bring all original documents that relate to your case to the interview. Included should be the following: MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE, DIVORCE DECREES, TAXES, W-2s, PAY STUBS FOR THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, EMPLOYMENT LETTERS, EVERYTHING PERTAINING TO YOUR CASE. BRING DOCUMENTS SHOWING SHARED LIFE TO FINAL INTERVIEW:
You should bring evidence showing you have a "bona fide" (good faith) marriage. These documents include:
BIRTH CERTIFICATES OF CHILDREN BORN OF MARRIAGE
BILLS ADDRESSED TO YOU AND/OR YOUR SPOUSE (phone, electric, water)
OTHER EVIDENCE THAT YOU ARE LIVING AT THE SAME ADDRESS (for example, a letter from the landlord or neighbors that attests to the fact that you are really married, make sure the letters contain the declarant's address and phone number.)
JOINT BANK AND CREDIT ACCOUNTS
PROOF OF JOINT OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY SUCH AS: HOME, INVESTMENTS, LIFE, HEALTH, AND AUTO INSURANCE.
JOINT INCOME TAX RETURNS.
COPIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOU BOTH TOGETHER
In addition, we sometimes advise our clients to provide letters of people that know you and can attest to your bona fide marriage. The letters should always include the writer's address and telephone number.
BRING PHOTOCOPIES OF EVERYTHING FOR THE OFFICER TO KEEP.
Please keep in mind that the information on this page is highly general and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is important to seek an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions about your particular case.