Green Card through Marriage

Permanent Residency: Green Card through Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

A U.S. Citizen may sponsor his or her spouse for a Green Card. Any immigration benefits based on marriage will require a legal marriage. Common law marriage is not recognized as a “legal marriage” in the U.S. There are usually a few different filing options to obtain a marriage based Green Card, depending on where the applicant is located. Each of the filing processes has different timelines, fees and benefits associated.

General Requirements:

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Proof of citizenship for U.S. citizen spouse
  • Birth Certificates for each spouse, meeting country specific requirements
  • I-864 Affidavit of Support executed by U.S. citizen spouse along with evidence of sufficient income (otherwise, Joint Sponsor required)
  • Medical Exam performed by Immigration Civil Surgeon

Common Issues:

  • U.S. Citizen spouse’s income does not meet the income requirements for the I-864
  • Travel restrictions for foreign national spouse
  • Maintaining non-immigrant status while an Adjustment case is pending
  • Providing sufficient relationship evidence

Filing Process:

If the foreign national spouse is inside the U.S., he or she may qualify for “Adjustment of Status.” This process requires the filing of specific documentation, application forms and evidence with USCIS. As part of the application process, both spouses will be required to attend an in-person interview at their local USCIS office. During the interview, the Officer will review the contents of the application, ask the couple questions about their relationship and review evidence/documentation of the marital relationship. The interview is a very important step in the case as the Officer will determine whether the couple has presented adequate evidence to prove the relationship and marriage is genuine. In most cases, the Officer will made a decision on the case at the end of the interview.

If the foreign national spouse is located outside of the U.S., the U.S. citizen spouse would first file an Immigrant Petition with USCIS. Upon its approval, the foreign national spouse would then process for an Immigrant Visa at the U.S. Consulate in their home country. After the foreign national spouse enters the U.S. using the Immigrant Visa, the Green Card is mailed to their U.S. address.


If you’re married for less than 2 years at the time of Green Card approval, you will receive a “Conditional Green Card” that is valid for 2 years. Prior to the expiration of the Conditional Green Card, you will need to file an I-751 Removal of Conditions application. In general, this requires you to submit evidence to prove to USCIS: 1) You’re still married to your U.S. citizen spouse, or 2) If you’re no longer married, that your marriage was valid at the time you applied for the Green Card.

If you’re married for longer than 2 years at the time of Green Card approval, you will receive a Green Card that is valid for 10 years. As long as you are maintaining your permanent residence and admissibility to the U.S., you may be eligible to renew your Green Card indefinitely. However, we always recommend clients to consider applying for U.S. citizenship through the Naturalization process.

At this time, we are committed to the health and safety of our clients, our staff and our community. The government continues to accept applications and process them as normal. We are equipped to continue to prepare and process all cases. Please keep in mind that most cases take months to process. We want to continue to prepare and process these cases, so that when we do get through this crisis, you will not have lost crucial processing time. We will perform all consultations over the phone and can be best reached through our contact form.