Obtaining a Green Card or Permanent Residency through a Spouse While Living in the U.S.

Immigration is like the Federal Family law. Most of the processing occurs through familial relationships. One common method of obtaining permanent residence is through a spouse. The following is a short summary of the process which is essentially two steps.

Step One: The U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
Establishes the Family Connection

First, the U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse must petition for their spouse using the I-130 “Petition for Alien Relative” form. This form establishes their family relationship and the fact that it’s a bona fide marriage. Along with this form the parties must submit evidence of the bona fide marriage. Usually this means including a copy of the marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, financial assets they may have together, photos together, rental/lease agreements, love letters or cards, and proof of termination of previous marriages, among others. This form generally carries a $535 filing fee that is made payable to USCIS and which generally takes between 12-14 months to be processed.

Concurrently filed with this form is the I-130A “Supplemental Information for a Spouse Beneficiary” that must have passport style photos of the beneficiary. The parties may or may not have to attend a marriage fraud interview after submission of the petition, but generally the only interview is done at the second step.

Step Two: The Relative Adjusts Status

Second, once the petition is approved, the beneficiary spouse can file for adjustment of status. This is done using the I-485 form which generally carries a $1,225.00 filing fee made out to USCIS. At this point, the beneficiary spouse must be interviewed either in the U.S or through consular processing abroad. The beneficiary spouse will also have to submit to a medical examination that is specific in nature and must be completed by a doctor approved by USCIS. Whether the interview will occur within the U.S. or outside the U.S. depends on many factors including the manner in which the beneficiary entered the U.S. Generally, if the person entered without lawful status, the interview will be held abroad. Moreover, depending on whether the beneficiary is considered inadmissible based on unlawful presence, a waiver may be needed which is completed by using the I-601A form. This additional form carries a filing fee of $630.00.

During this second step, the beneficiary can also apply for employment authorization by using the I-765 form which carries no filing fees if filed concurrently with the I-485. In addition, if the parties have been married less than two years on the day that permanent residence is given, a conditional green card will be issued and the conditions need to be removed at a later date byusing a different form.

Lastly, in some cases it is possible for both steps to be done at one time if the beneficiary is “admissible” at the time of the petition. This means the waiting time would be cut short. However, specific conditions must be met for the beneficiary to be eligible to do this, and there may be an additional $1,000.00 filing fee.
Feel free to contact us if you or a loved one are interested in adjusting status through a spouse. We would love to help you achieve your goals.

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