Legal marriage with a US citizen gives a foreign resident the right to apply for a green card, and 3 years after receiving it, even become an American citizen. Together with a foreign spouse, her or his children under the age of 21 can obtain a residence permit.
You can also get the right to legally live in the United States in marriage with a green card holder, but the process, in this case, can take several years. For spouses of US citizens, there is no queue for obtaining a residence permit and, as a rule, they are issued a green card within six months.
Like any immigration process in the United States, this one is not easy and requires a whole stack of documents and a successful interview with the Citizenship and Immigration Service, where you need to prove that the marriage is real.
Getting the USA green card through marriage: stages
To get a green card through marriage, you need to go through several stages. To begin with, an application for a change in status is submitted. This means that you must send a large package of documents to the Citizenship and Immigration Service.
First of all, you need to fill out the forms from the website of the Citizenship and Immigration Service:
- Form I-130 (Petition of Alien Relative) – is filled out by a US citizen, thereby recognizing their relationship with the person to whom this petition is being submitted. The fee for this form is $ 420. For a child of a foreign citizen, such a form is filled out separately;
- Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) – an application for assigning permanent resident status to a foreigner. The fee is $ 985 per form plus $ 85 for biometric collection. Separately, this form is filled in for the child of a foreign citizen;
- Forms G-325 and G-325A (Biographic Information) – biographical information of both spouses. It is also filled out separately for the child of a foreign citizen. You do not need to pay to submit this form;
- Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) – completed by a US citizen (sponsor) and thus undertakes to support the foreign spouse. The sponsor can be not only the American spouse directly but also any of the relatives or even acquaintances living in the United States. This form is free;
- Form I-765 (Permission for Work Authorization) – a request by a foreigner to obtain a work permit in the United States. Fee – $ 385;
- Form I-693 (Medical Examination Results) – the conclusion of the medical board. You do not need to pay for the form itself, for an appointment with a doctor is mandatory. It is important to remember that you can contact only those doctors who are certified by the Citizenship and Immigration Service. You can find them here. It is better that you already have the entire list of vaccinations (in English) that you received earlier. And one more nuance – you will receive the examination results in a closed envelope that cannot be opened;
- Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure record) – a record of the arrival of a foreigner in the country. It can be printed from the website;
Personal documents (copies) for a US citizen:
- Birth or naturalization certificate;
- Marriage certificate;
- Certificate of all divorces, if any;
- Two photos;
- Tax forms and proof of solvency – tax returns for at least the last year, but preferably for 3 years, account statements, documents from work about how much a person earns (this must be at least 125% of the state subsistence minimum. That is, if the family of 2 people, the sponsor must have an annual income of at least $ 20 thousand if there are 4 members in the family – about $ 30.5 thousand).
Personal documents (copies) for a foreign citizen:
- Birth certificate – a copy of the original and translation into English. You do not need to notarize the translation. It can be made by anyone who speaks two required languages. Don’t forget to sign and date;
- Passports – national and foreign. The latter contains copies of all visas;
- Certificate of marriage and all divorces, if any, with translation into English;
- 6 color photographs;
- All documents that you have already received in the United States – driver’s license, social security number;
- Criminal record – if a person was previously arrested, extracts are needed, for what and when;
- If after marriage the surname has changed, an explanation in free form, when and on what basis it happened.
Interview: what you need to be prepared for
Despite the numerous tips on the thematic forums about immigration to the USA, in the first package of documents, no evidence is required that your marriage is real. Moreover, migration officers will not consider such documents.
But you must bring them to the interview. Here the list is not clear, the main thing is that the Immigration Service does not have any questions about the veracity of your relationship. The more evidence you can provide, the better.
The documents can be as follows:
- joint bank accounts (take bank statements, if you have general credit cards, you need to make a photocopy of two cards on one sheet of paper);
- one residential address (you can provide a driver’s license, ID cards of a specific city, membership in local clubs – any documents on which a joint residence address would be written);
- the lease agreement, which contains the names of both spouses;
- utility bills for both names;
- a letter from the landlord, in which he confirms that the spouses live together;
- photographs (joint, with friends; it is better to provide those that were before the wedding, during and after);
- a letter from the employer stating that the employee’s marital status has changed, and his spouse is listed in the emergency contact list;
- general medical insurance;
- printouts of correspondence between spouses (letters, greeting cards, correspondence in social networks);
- proof of joint vehicle ownership;
- evidence of large purchases the couple made together (technique);
- joint travel (a printout of hotel reservations, purchase of tickets);
- a letter from relatives or neighbors who can confirm that you are indeed a couple.