Marriage Green Card Adjustment of Status

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How Does a Marriage-Based Green Card Work?

A foreign national who marries a U.S. citizen may be eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status and obtain a green card. This will allow them to legally work and live in the U.S. permanently. If both the citizen and the foreign national are currently in the U.S., the citizen can apply with the USCIS for an Adjustment of Status for their spouse.

The foreign spouse will typically be granted a status of “Conditional Permanent Resident.” This may be dropped in the future and the alien will receive LPR status.

Who Is Eligible for a Marriage Green Card?

Any foreign national who has married a U.S. citizen can apply for an Adjustment of Status. They must be legally in the country with a valid visa or visa waiver. The couple must not have arranged a fraudulent marriage for the purpose of circumventing immigration laws.

Also, the foreign national must have a clean record with no history of criminal offenses. Even minor offenses can make a person ineligible for a green card. Major offenses can subject the alien to deportation laws. 

What Types of Documents Must Be Submitted for Marriage Green Cards?

After the marriage has occurred, the couple should file the following USCIS documents:

What Happens After the Immigration Documents Are Filed?

After all the required documents have been submitted, there are several more steps to be completed before Conditional Permanent Resident status is granted. These steps include:


  1. Appointment for Fingerprinting/Biometrics
  2.  USCIS will issue work authorization and travel permits approximately 90 days from filing
  3. A marriage interview will be conducted anywhere from 6 to 9 months after the initial application filing
  4. If the interview is successful, the foreign national spouse will receive Conditional Permanent Resident status
  5.  A Green Card will be mailed approximately 4-8 weeks after the successful interview

The Conditional Status may be removed by filing Form I-751, Removal of Conditional Status. This may be filed 2 years after the date that the Conditional Permanent Residency status was granted. The form must be submitted within 3 months prior to the 2 year date.

Are There Any Other Legal Issues I Should Consider?

The greatest concern with Marriage Green Card is the issue of fraudulent marriage. You should understand that immigration officials are constantly on the alert for persons who engage in sham immigration marriages for monetary profit.

Therefore, you should be prepared to provide proof that your marriage is legitimate and does not involve any fraud or deceit. You might be required to furnish evidence that your relationship is true, such as photographs, travel documents, and other records. 

Also, another concern is where the couple has children who are located in another country. While this may not be an obstacle for the marriage green card itself, it can present the couple with additional immigration concerns in the future. You should contact an immigration attorney if you wish to petition children or other relatives.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer for Marriage-Based Green Cards?

Applying for a green card based on marriage can be a long and involved process. It requires submitting many documents and can involve multiple interviews. If you have any uncertainties regarding your or your spouse’s status, you should contact a lawyer for advice. While each marital situation is different, an experienced attorney will be able to assist you during the application process.

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Last Modified: 10-28-2013 03:54 PM PDT

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