Process of Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

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Petition for a Visa

  • When you plan to marry a person from a foreign country, a K1 visa must be obtained before your fiancée may enter the United States. The person who is a U.S. citizen has to petition for the visa with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign-born fiancée by providing proof of U.S. citizenship and permission to marry. It can take as long as 6 months for the petition to be approved. When it has, the foreign-born fiancée then needs to apply for and obtain the K1 visa issued from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Since the foreign-born future spouse lives in her native country, she must remain there until a Temporary Resident Visa is issued. When marrying a person who already resides in the United States, this step is not applicable. It is highly advised, however, that the current visa be in good standing.

Visa Status

  • When applying for the K1 visa, the foreign-born fiancé must undergo a medical examination, submit a copy of his birth certificate and provide evidence of a valid relationship with the intended spouse to the USCIS. Depending on where and when the application is submitted, it can take anywhere between 6 to 9 months for approval. When marrying a foreign-born person who is already residing in the United States, you can obtain a marriage license while providing current visa information and immigration status.

Visa Approval and Marriage

  • Once the K1 visa has been approved, the foreign-born fiancée is granted access to the United States on a temporary 90-day visa but must remain unmarried until the arrival of the fiancée in the United States. The wedding has to take place within 90 days of the fiancée's arrival. If it does not, she will be required to leave the United States. Once married with the K1 visa or to a foreign-born person already residing in the United States, the foreign-born spouse can immediately apply for a green card. The application process can take 12 to 18 months to approve. Once the green card has been issued, it is only valid for two years. An interview is then scheduled with an immigration officer to make an assessment of the sincerity of the marriage. Once the temporary green card expires, a new one can be applied for and will remain permanent.

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