Getting a Green Card Through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen
If you are a U.S. Citizen and are married to an immigrant you have 2 ways to obtain a green card for her. If she is in the United States then you would go through a process called adjustment of status. That is what this article is about. If she is outside the United States then you would go through a different procedure that is not covered in this article. Either way you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney prior to filing any paperwork with USCIS as you can have serious long-term problems if paperwork is not completed correctly or your case is improperly filed.
To obtain a green card through marriage you must make sure that you are legally able to get married. If you got married out of the United States you must make sure you followed their laws concerning marriage. If you were married before you must make sure that it was terminated. It can be terminated only through death, divorce or annulment. This area can be tricky as some people think that they are free to marry (they believe that their divorce was done correctly when it was not) when they are not. You cannot file for a green card for your spouse if either of you is still technically married.
Because you are a U.S. Citizen your spouse will be able to get a green card in the United States quickly. The process should take only 3-7 months. Most of our cases process from start to finish within 4 months.
The burden will be on you to prove to USCIS that your marriage is legitimate. You will need to file documents with USCIS. Both of you will file G-325a forms. In addition, the U.S. Citizen spouse will file form I-130 and proof of citizenship (either a certified copy of his birth certificate, U.S. passport, or copy of naturalization certificate) and a certified copy of divorce, death, or annulment decrees or certificates (if applicable). He will also need to take and submit passport photos (currently USCIS wants color passport photos and from the front not side angle).
In addition USCIS will require that the U.S. Citizen prove that he can financially support his spouse. The U.S. government does not want the immigrant to file for welfare or other pubic benefits. The U.S. Citizen will need to provide 3 years worth of federal tax returns, a letter from his employer showing that he is currently employed and his current income, and bank statements.
If the U.S. Citizen is not currently working the requirement can be met in other ways. Sometimes U.S. Citizens are not currently working but they have assets that USCIS will accept as proof that the immigrant will not receive public benefits. If there are not sufficient assets to meet the requirement you can also obtain a co-sponsor. Because a co-sponsor will be financially responsible for the immigrant usually only close relatives or very close friends tend to be co-sponsors. The co-sponsor will need to complete an additional I-864 form, turn in bank statements and tax returns to the government. The co-sponsor will need to be a green card holder or U.S. Citizen to qualify. In addition, they will need to turn in their federal tax returns, bank statements and a letter from their employer just like the U.S. Citizen.