Q: How Soon Can I File For a Green Card After Getting Married?

A: A foreign national can file for a permanent residence immediately after marrying a U.S. Citizen. A Permanent resident
with a Green Card can also file a marriage petition.

Q: How Do I Prove That We are Really Married?

A: It is very important to document your marriage in order to present evidence of your bona fide relationship. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has various criteria for determining if a marriage was entered in good faith. These include, but are not limited to the following:

Commingling of assets
Joint leases
Joint financial responsibilities
Pictures

Q: Can I Get Married Just to Get a Green Card?

A: No! You must have a valid marriage to file for a marriage petition. If you enter into a fraudulent marriage just to get a Green Card, you could get criminal charges including prison time.

Q: Is an Arranged Marriage Considered Valid for a Green Card?

A: USCIS will recognize an arranged marriage as long as it is entered in good faith.

Q: Do We have to Get Married in the U.S. In Order to Get a Green Card?

A: No, the wedding can be in a different country.

Q: Will Immigration Accept a Proxy Marriage?

A: Immigration will not recognize a proxy marriage, in which the bride and groom did not meet on the wedding day. The exception is if the marriage was consummated after the proxy marriage.

Q: Do I have to Be in the U.S. to Apply for a Green Card?

A: After you are married, you can process the paperwork in the U.S. as long as spouse who’s getting the green card is already in the United States. However, you can process the Green Card overseas through the US consulates. When processing a case overseas, you can get a K3 visa to reduce the waiting time. Also, you can bring your fiance in on a K-1 Visa if the marriage has not taken place yet.

Q: Can My Fiance Get a Green Card if he or she is Illegal?

A: To have your case processed in the United States, the foreign fiance has to have come to the United States with a valid visa. However, a provision under INA 245(i), may help those who came illegally. There are many requirements to prove that you benefit from this provision of the law. You need to speak to an experienced attorney about your particular case, especially if the foreign fiance has overstayed their visa.

Q: Do We need to State in the U.S. While Waiting for the Green Card?

A: During the adjustment of status process, you should not leave the United States unless you file and get an approved reentry/parole permit. A parole or reentry permit is not a guarantee of entry in the United States. It only allows you to board a plane and arrive at the port of entry in the US where an immigration officer will determine whether to allow you inside the US or not. If you have overstayed for more than 180 days on your visa before applying for a green card, you should definitely not leave the United States. You will be subject to a 3-year bar from getting back into the US and getting permanent residence. At that point, only a waiver can help you and waivers are not easy to get. If you overstayed more than 365 days before applying, don’t leave because you will be subject to a 10-year bar and the waiver is a lot harder to get.

Q: How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card Interview?

A: Once you file for your marriage petition, you will be called for fingerprint and for an interview within 3 to 8 months if the papers have been filed properly. You are supposed to attend this interview with your spouse and prove that your marriage is bona fide (good faith).

Q: Do We need an Attorney to Get a Green Card Through Marriage?

A: It is highly advisable to have an attorney present during such interviews. A licensed attorney will be allowed to sit with you at the interview. If the adjudicating officer is satisfied with the interview and the security check is finalized; they will tell you that you will get an answer soon. You might get an answer the next week that your case is approved and a letter welcoming you to the US as permanent resident. [Editor’s note: This is not always the case. It may take much longer to hear back from immigration. ]

On the other hand, if the Immigration gets proof or admission that the case is fraudulent, you might be arrested on the spot. At this point you are highly advised to remain silent until your attorney is present.
If the officer is not satisfied, you might be called for another interview or they might deny your case.

Q: What Happens if They Deny My Fiance’s Petition for a Green Card?

A: If it is denied, they will give you one month before referring the case to the Immigration Judge. Your attorney can file for a motion to reopen the case. If this fails, the case will be argued in immigration court. The immigration judge will review the case again and make a determination. This means you have to prove your case or the government has to prove that your marriage was not bona fide. Again, it is highly recommended to hire an experienced attorney to move forward in such cases.

Q: What Happens if they Approve My Fiance’s Petition for a Green Card?
A: If the case is approved, you will get a conditional residence if the marriage has been in effect less than two years when the green card is issued .

Q: When Does a Conditional Residence Green Card Expire?

A: ou should verify if you have a conditional residence. Usually a conditional residence green card will have an expiration date of 2 years.

Q: How Do I Remove the Conditional Residence Status?

A: You will need to remove that conditional residence status as from 90 days from the second anniversary of the issue of the green card by filing a Form I-751. If you do not file the removal, your status will be terminated. Usually, if you are still married to you US citizen spouse, you will file a joint petition to remove such conditions. If you can prove your marriage was bona fide, you will get a permanent residence card for 10 years and about 6 months after filing the Form I-751. If the Immigration suspects foul play, they will launch an investigation and may even call you and your spouse for a removal of conditional residence interview. If they are satisfied, they will grant you unconditional permanent residence. If not they will refer the case to an immigration judge.

Q: What Happens if We Separate or Divorce Before the Conditional Green Card Expires?

A: The following are few potential scenarios.

Scenario I: The Divorce finalized before you filed for the removal of conditional residence: You need to file the for the conditional residence waiver (Form I-751) to be removed even if the marriage has not reached two years. You have to prove that your marriage was entered in good faith and the marriage was not terminated through your fault. The process typically follows the same path as when you file the case jointly with your spouse.
Scenario II: The two-year anniversary of the conditional green card has come to term and the divorce is not finalized. You need to get the divorce finalized as soon as possible so that you can file the Form I-751 waiver.
Scenario II: You filed your joint petition of removal of conditional residence, but you separated and intend to divorce your spouse. You need to inform the USCIS and wait for the final divorce decree and file a Form I-751 again.

Q: What If the Spouse Seeking the Green Card Was Abused?

A: There are numerous other situations pertaining to the removal of conditional residence, such as having an abusive spouse or hardship situations. You should speak to your attorney about your situation. There are other provisions to protect beneficiaries in case of abuse by US citizen spouses. A person who is abused by the citizen spouse is eligible to file for Violence against Women Act (VAWA) protection. There are also situations in which the US citizen spouse dies before the case is approved.

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this article, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the article without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. Shah Peerally is the managing for the Shah Peerally Law Group PC located in Newark CA. The law office focuses on Immigration Law. http://www.peerallylaw.com Ph:510 742 5887 Email:shah@peerallylaw.com

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Shah Peerally is an attorney licensed in California practicing immigration law and debt settlement. He has featured as an expert legal analyst for many TV networks such as NDTV, Times Now and Sitarree TV. Articles about Shah Peerally and his work have appeared on newspapers such as San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, US Fiji Times, Mauritius Le Quotidien, Movers & Shakers and other prominent international newspapers. His work has been commended by Congress women Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee. He has a weekly radio show on KLOK 1170AM and frequently participates in legal clinics in churches, temples and mosques. His law group, Shah Peerally Law Group, has represented clients all over the United States constantly dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Custom Enforcement(ICE) and CBP (Customs Border Patrol (CBP) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This department was formerly known as the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS).