Green Card Through Marriage Application

US citizens and permanent residents can sponsor spouses through a petition for a Green Card by marriage. Both the sponsor and the beneficiary have to establish their eligibility. The process varies depending on whether the sponsor is a US citizen or a Green Card holder.

Green Card through marriage to US citizens

US citizens can sponsor spouses as "immediate relatives." For immediate relatives, visa numbers are available immediately, which means that there is no need to wait for a visa number to become available. As soon as the sponsor's petition (Form I-130) is approved, a visa number is made available and the beneficiary can apply for a US Green Card. If the beneficiary is in the US, that beneficiary will have to apply for to have his/her status adjusted to Permanent Resident. If the spouse is outside the US, he/she will have to file for an immigration visa with a US consulate having jurisdiction over their place of residence.

Green Card through marriage to US permanent residents

US permanent residents, too, can sponsor spouses seeking to get a Green Card, but the process can take longer because a visa number will not be available immediately. Once the I-130 has been approved, spouses of Green Card holders will have to wait for their priority date -- the date on which the sponsor filed the petition -- to become current. The status of the priority date can be checked using the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the US Department of State. When the date is current, a visa number is available, and the beneficiary can apply for a visa or to adjust his or her status.

K-1 Visa and Green Card through marriage

US citizens can also consider a different procedure: the K-1 visa, or FiancÚ(e) visa. This visa allows the fiancÚ(e) of a US citizen to enter the United States for 90 days during which time they need to get married and then apply for a status adjustment. This is an option to consider, but it should not be assumed to be a better or easier route. Many factors and expenses are involved. For example, it may be easier and less expensive get married abroad than in the US.

The option for a Green Card through marriage is available to US citizens and permanent residents. Children can also immigrate with the foreign spouse as long as they meet eligibility requirements.