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How to Obtain a Green Card Through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

By June 25, 2021Immigration

There are many ways to obtain a green card through your family relatives. The most common is when you are married to a US citizen. In that case, you are in a category called “immediate relative” and a visa is directly available to you. If you’re living abroad, your spouse will file an I-130, wait for the case to be approved and then transferred to the National Visa Center which collects all the necessary supporting documentation before transferring the case to the Consular Post. This process of obtaining an immigrant visa is called Consular Processing.

If you are living in the United States, your spouse can concurrently file an I-130 and I-485 so that you can adjust status. The great thing about being an immediate relative is that it can cure many issues such unauthorized employment or unlawful presence, whereas those are considered serious immigration legal violations otherwise.

There are many other ways to obtain a green card through family members, but one way we would like to emphasize today is through your lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse. In that case, you will be under the F2A category and need to wait that a visa becomes available to proceed with either adjustment of status or consular processing. A very interesting thing is that the Visa Bulletin has been “current” for the F2A under the final action dates for adjustment of status since the summer of 2019. This means that instead of waiting for about 2 years – which was the usual waiting period – the applicant can apply for adjustment concurrently with the filing of the I-130 petition by the US Citizen spouse.

We wanted to point that out to your attention because, depending on your specific situation, it may not be necessary to wait for your spouse’s naturalization before starting your immigration process. In addition, once you obtain your green card, you will still be able to apply for your naturalization after 3 years of marriage to a US citizen. Indeed, under Section 319(a) of INA, the requirement is to have been married 3 years to a US citizen, but not necessarily to have obtained a green card through your marriage to a US citizen. This means that if you obtained your green card through your LPR spouse and he or she naturalized later, you will be able to apply for naturalization after the 3-year mark of their US naturalization.

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