If you are married to a citizen of the United States, you may qualify for marriage-based Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR), commonly known as a Green Card. Marriage is a common way for non-citizens to obtain a Green Card in the United States. If you require assistance filing for a marriage-based Green Card, Obi Ikeme and the team at Ikeme Law are here to help. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and learn more.
Marriage-based Green Cards can be issued both to spouses of U.S. citizens and to spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) – meaning other Green Card holders. However, the process is a bit different for each situation.
Spouses of U.S. citizens are considered to be “immediate relatives” by law. This means they are not subject to any quota restrictions for receiving a Green Card via marriage. Usually, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be granted within 90 days, and a Green Card can be obtained within about 12 months.
Spouses of LPRs, on the other hand, are subject to quota restrictions, and there is high demand for Green Cards from spouses of LPRs. This means the process may take much longer and it will be more complex. It’s not uncommon for the process to take 24-30 months. It’s important to work with an experienced immigration attorney in Houston to build the best possible case as the spouse of an LPR.
To begin the process of obtaining a Green Card, the U.S. citizen married to the foreign spouse must submit a Form I-130 with USCIS on behalf of their spouse. If the non-citizen spouse entered the U.S. legally, an I-485 “adjustment of status” can also be filed to ensure their spouse can remain in the U.S.
Additional documents are also typically required at this time, such as birth certificates, proof of nationality, and an I-94 travel record proving lawful entry into the United States.
There is a lot of paperwork involved in the process of obtaining a marriage-based Green Card. As part of the process, you usually also must prove to immigration officials that your marriage is legitimate, and you will need to provide supporting documentation and information about the relationship to prove that it is “bona fide.”
In addition, if you have been married for less than 2 years at the time of filing, a “conditional Green Card” that’s valid for only 2 years may be issued. These conditions can be removed by filing an I-751 Petition To Remove Conditions, along with applicable filing and processing fees. This must be done at least 90 days before the end of the 2-year Green Card expires.
Hiring an experienced immigration attorney such as Obi Ikeme helps streamline the process of obtaining your marriage-based Green Card, particularly if you are married to an LPR and not a U.S. citizen.
Immigration in the United States is very complex, and a single mistake can set your application back weeks or months, or even result in a denial of a Green Card. That’s why it’s so important to work with an attorney.
A Houston Green Card attorney can ensure that all relevant forms are filed correctly, maintain contact with the relevant immigration officials and departments, and speed up the process of obtaining a Green Card.
Obi Ikeme and the team at Ikeme Law assists U.S. citizens and their spouses as they apply for marriage-based Green Cards in Houston. If you need legal support as you begin this process, don’t wait. Contact us now to schedule a consultation and get the help you need right away.