Foreigners who marry U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (green card holders) may become eligible for marriage based green cards. But marriage to U.S. citizens or legal residents does not automatically guarantee a marriage based visa or green card.
There have been a lot of instances of people involving in marriage fraud and getting married to U.S. citizens or green card holders just for the sake of getting green cards. Due to the increasing number of marriage fraud cases and in order to put an end to marriage fraud, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. consulates have started to carefully scrutinize all the marriage based green card and visa applications.
At times, some real couples also get into trouble due to some common mistakes, like criminal convictions, immigration violations, filing incomplete applications, failing to provide financial documentation, etc.
To get a marriage based immigrant visa or a resident card, the petitioner and the beneficiary must be legally married. If they were previously married to someone else, they will need to prove that the previous marriage has ended. This has to be proved by submitting their divorce papers or the death certificates of their former spouses. If they fail to prove that, their applications will be delayed or even denied.
Applicants also need to prove that their marriages are valid by providing their marriage certificates issued by government agencies, church documents or other legal proof of marriage.
The sponsor must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support and establish that the beneficiary will not become a public charge and that he or she will financially support the beneficiary. Immigrant visas will not be issued to anyone who is likely to become a public charge in the U.S.
People applying for marriage based visas must see to it that they do not leave any questions unanswered. Applications must be filled in completely, entering N/A if any question on the form is not applicable to them.
Supporting documents play an important role and they must submit copies of all the supporting documents listed on the form filing instructions. Applications must include the right fee and must be mailed to the right USCIS office. In case their supporting documents are not in English, they must submit certified English translations of those documents.