Spouses of Citizens of the United States are given preferential treatment in the allocation of green cards, as well as other significant “waivers” of immigration violations.
Who is Eligible?
The spouse of a US Citizen is considered an “immediate relative” and as such, there are no waiting periods other than the normal processing timeframes, to complete the process to obtain a green card.
Spouses of US citizens must, unless very limited exceptions apply, prove that they entered the US legally, if they wish to complete their application in the United States. (There is also an option to process at a US consulate overseas, but for spouses that have been in the US illegally or had prior immigration violations, travel outside the US can be treacherous, and should be discussed in detail with a skilled immigration professional before departing.)
Furthermore, for couples that have not yet legally married, there remains a preliminary option to bring the spouse to the US as a fiancé with a K-1 visa, so that the couple can be together in the US in order to marry and file the green card paperwork detailed below.
Spouses of US Citizens that entered the US legally can often still apply for a green card in the US even despite immigration violations such as overstaying a visa status, or working without permission. However, individuals with such issues are strongly cautioned to consult with a skilled immigration professional before filing an application.
About the Process:
Almost all marriage-based green card filings involve a personal interview at a local (district) office which is to be attended by both the US Citizen spouse and their foreign national spouse. If the couple retains a qualified immigration attorney, the attorney can also be present at this interview. The goal of the interview, besides confirming the truthfulness of the application, is to demonstrate (often through joint documentation) that the marriage is legitimate. At the conclusion of the interview, if the case is approved but the marriage is less than two years old, then the spouse will be granted a “conditional” green card, valid for two years. It is critical that the couple then file a petition in two years’ time to “remove” the condition on the green card.
Spouses of US citizens may qualify for US citizenship in just 3 years, as opposed to the 5 years that most applicants must accrue before filing a US citizenship application.
Take the Next Step:
At the Boston Immigration Law Office of Adrienne J. Vaughan, we realize that filing a petition for your spouse is an extremely personal and emotional issue. Founding immigration Attorney Adrienne J. Vaughan has over fifteen years of experience in advising on marriage-based green card petitions. She has represented numerous marriage-based cases at interviews before the US Immigration Service (US CIS) district offices in New England, and has assisted many others whose spouse was overseas and processed through the US Consulates in their home countries.
Immigration lawyer Adrienne J. Vaughan realizes that your case is of utmost importance. In light of this, we anticipate that you will have numerous questions along the way and welcome you to ask them all so that you feel confident in the process.
Call or email us for a no obligation consultation about your matter.