A green card marriage is a marriage arrangement between a U.S. citizen and a non-citizen for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card for the non-citizen. The foreign national may be granted a “Conditional Permanent Resident” status, which may later be dropped and replaced with Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. LPR status allows them to legally and permanently work and live in the United States.
Marriages of this sort may occur in the U.S. or abroad. If the couple is currently in the U.S., the citizen can apply for an Adjustment of Status for their spouse, with the USCIS. Typically, the couple must submit proof of the marriage, in addition to proof showing it wasn’t entered into fraudulently or for the purpose of deceiving immigration officials. Lastly, the non-citizen must have a clean criminal record, and be in the U.S. with a valid visa.
Immigration laws are strict to prevent marriage fraud, but so long as fraud isn’t an issue, the process is fairly streamlined. For people applying for a marriage-based visa, they must be able to validate the marriage, and may be required to provide some of the following items:
Before a non-citizen is granted full permanent resident status, the marriage must be validated. Validation and issuance of LPR usually occurs two years after the individual entered the U.S. under their marriage-based visa. In the time leading up to two years, the person will be issued a conditional permanent resident status.
Permanent residents are able to petition persons for a green card marriage, but they may need to marry before becoming eligible for the visa. It’s important to note that waiting lists are common with this type of arrangement.
If the permanent resident entered the U.S. on a separate marriage visa, the new green card may be denied if the prior marriage occurred within the last 5 years, unless the marriage ended in death.
No, yearly quotas for green cards through marriage do not exist, but the timeline for green card approval varies for each case. Some cases may be processed in a matter of a few months, whereas others may take much longer.
After obtaining a marriage certificate, the following USCIS documents need to be filed:
After filing the aforementioned documents, the following steps must be completed before a non-citizen is grated Conditional Permanent Resident status:
Conditional Permanent Resident status may be removed 2 years after it was granted, by filing Form I-751, Removal of Conditional Status. This must be submitted within 3 months prior to the 2 year date.
Green card marriage fraud occurs when a marriage is entered solely for the purpose of a non-citizen obtaining a green card. Marriage-based visas commonly have a shorter wait period than other types of visas, thus are frequently entered into fraudulently.
Immigration authorities may use the following methods to detect green card marriage fraud:
If any evidence was falsified to deceive immigration personnel, legal consequences may follow. For instance, a written contract may exist for some marriages that are arranged by a third party that specializes in the arrangement of false marriages. Charges may be filed for everyone involved in defrauding the government.
Green card marriage laws are extensive and strictly enforced. Legal ramifications can be severe, particularly if a violation involves a fraudulent marriage. Consequences may include:
Consulting an immigration attorney is highly recommended in order to prevent any suspicion of green card marriage fraud.
In addition to the issue of fraudulent marriages, is children. If the couple has children in another country, they may face additional immigration concerns, though not with the green card itself. If you have children or other relatives you wish to petition, contact an immigration lawyer.
Green card marriage laws are strict and require numerous legal documents and forms; any mistakes can result in permanent consequences. An immigration lawyer can assist you in preparation for the interview process, ensuring the fulfillment of all requirements, and they can also represent you during formal immigration court proceedings.
Last Modified: 07-25-2018 11:02 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.