Many people are under the impression that marrying a U.S. citizen is the fast-track to becoming a lawful permanent resident in the United States. Although the immigration process might take less time for spouses of U.S. citizens, the path to permanent residence is still fraught with challenges.

U.S. immigration laws and procedures were designed to prevent people from taking advantage of the system. If you marry a U.S. citizen just to obtain a green card, this is considered marriage fraud and you could face an order of removal. This would prevent you from entering the United States for several years. Also, the U.S. citizen could face criminal penalties.

Even if you can prove that your marriage is legitimate, a minor error could cause USCIS to deny your Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status.

An experienced green card lawyer can help you avoid these issues and possibly speed up the immigration process. Rusty O’Brien is an immigration attorney in Louisville who will use his extensive knowledge of U.S. immigration laws to represent your interests. Call 502-400-7890 to schedule a consultation at The O’Brien Law Group.

Marriage-Based Immigration Begins with Submitting Form I-130

All paths to lawful permanent residence in the United States take time – and marriage-based immigration is no exception. The process usually starts when the U.S. citizen submits Form I-130 on his or her spouse’s behalf. If the foreign-born spouse has already entered the United States lawfully, then he or she can file Form I-485 for an adjustment of status.

Within 90 days, the spouse should receive an Employment Authorization Document. If the foreign-born spouse did not undergo an inspection when he or she entered the United States, then it may be necessary for him or her to apply for a green card through marriage in his or her home country. However, this will not be necessary if the foreign-born spouse is eligible for provisional waivers in the United States.

Proving That Your Marriage Is Legitimate

There are severe consequences for committing marriage fraud. Your green card lawyer will help you gather the necessary documentation to prove that your union is legitimate. This evidence may include proof that you and your spouse own joint property, you filed your income taxes jointly, or you have a child together.

Obtaining a 10-Year Green Card by Filing Form I-751

In most cases, the green card of the foreign-born spouse will expire after two years. He or she must file Form I-751 within 90 days of the green card’s expiration. If approved, the spouse will obtain a 10-year green card.

If you got divorced from your U.S. citizen spouse within the first two years of marriage, then you must submit Form I-751 and apply for a “good faith marriage waiver” of the joint petition requirement.

If you have questions about marriage-based immigration or if you would like to learn strategies to speed up the process, contact Rusty O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien is a green card lawyer in Louisville who will help you navigate the U.S. immigration system. Call 502-400-7890 to schedule a consultation.

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