Green Card Marriage Laws
What is Meant by a “Green Card Marriage”?
A “Green card marriage” is a type of marriage arrangement wherein a U.S. citizen marries a non-citizen from another country for the purpose of them obtaining a green card (i.e., to obtain permanent U.S. resident status). For such marriages, the marriage can either take place abroad or in the U.S.
However, the couple will usually need to supply proof of their marriage. They will also need to supply proof that the marriage wasn’t entered into for fraudulent purposes, or for the purposes of deceiving immigration officials.
How are Green Card Marriages Validated?
A common misconception is that immigration laws are so strict that they don’t encourage persons to base green card application on marriage. While immigration laws are strict, petitioning a loved one based on marriage isn’t prohibited, so long as the process doesn’t involve marriage fraud.
For couples applying for a marriage-based visa, they will eventually be required to validate that their marriage is legitimate and not a sham or fraudulent marriage. This may require the couple to submit certain items that will prove the validity of their marriage, such as:
- Various documents, such as shared bank account statements
- Proof of the couple’s marriage, such as a wedding certificate
- Tax return information
- Travel documents
- Photos or video of the couple together
- Witness statements or testimony regarding the couple’s marriage status
- Other documents or information as requested by immigration services
The marriage will need to be validated before the non-citizen is issued full permanent resident status. This will usually happen two years after the person has entered into the U.S. under their marriage-based visa. Up until that time, the person is granted a conditional permanent resident status.
Are There Any Legal Consequences for Violating Green Card Marriage Laws?
As mentioned green card marriage laws are very extensive and are enforced very strictly.
Legal consequences for violating green card provisions can be severe, especially if the violation involves a fraudulent marriage, as these are very common. Consequences may include:
- Denial of permanent resident status
- Revocation of existing green card privileges
- Possible removal to the person’s country of origin
- Temporary or permanent bar on re-entry into the U.S. in the future
- For the non-alien citizen spouse, criminal consequences can sometimes result for willful violations, especially if the citizen is found to be harboring a criminal immigrant
Thus, immigration marriage fraud is highly discouraged, as it can often lead to far-reaching criminal consequences. In most cases, it’s best to work with an immigration lawyer in order to prevent suspicions of immigration marriage fraud.
Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Need Help With Green Card Marriage Laws?
Green card marriage laws require careful handling of various legal forms and documents. They can also involve an in-depth interview process with an immigration judge or panel. As such, it’s in your best interests to hire an immigration lawyer if you or a loved one needs help with green card marriage requirements. Your attorney can help you all the different requirements, and can help represent you during formal immigration court proceedings.
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Last Modified: 11-27-2012 12:25 PM PST
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