Tips for Marriage with U.S. Person for Green Card

Many people are originally from other country who live in the U.S. would like to get married with the person from their original country. Also, many people in other countries are eager to get married to the persons who live in the U.S. Therefore, there is a lot of marriage based immigration to the U.S. However, those are considering marrying a U.S. person should keep the following tips in mind:
  1. Legal Status:
    The duration that would take the foreign person to come to the U.S. with the U.S. spouse depends upon the legal status of the U.S. person.

    • U.S. Citizen:
      As there are no annual quotes in the immediate relative (IR) category, the processing time for getting the immigrant visa after marrying the U.S. citizen is the shortest. It typically takes around 8 months to 12 months.

      If you are getting married to U.S. citizen, there are several options of K1 visa or K3 visa or immigrant visa. You should compare them carefully to select the most suitable option for you.

    • Green Card Holder:
      If you get married to the green card holder, your green card petition will be filed in the F2A category, which is a limited category with annual quotas. You will have to wait for several years before you will be able to go to the U.S. on immigrant visa and get green card. Even though the actual waiting and processing time may vary from time to time, you will have to generally wait for around 5 years. Meanwhile, you will not be able to get the tourist visa or similar non-immigrant visa such as student visa. (You are still eligible for H1 or L1 visa, if you independently qualify). Therefore, you must make sure you are indeed willing to wait for that long before deciding to get married to such person.

      If such U.S. person has applied for the U.S. citizenship, there is no guarantee that he/she will get the U.S. citizenship.

    • Non-immigrant Visa:
      If the U.S. person is non-immigrant visa such as H-1 visa, L-1 visa or F-1 visa, their spouse can go to the U.S. immediately on dependent visa such as H-4 visa, L-2 visa or F-2 visa. However, please keep in mind that these are are non-immigrant visa and they are for a limited time. Unless the primary visa holder eventually applies for green card gets one, the dependent visa would duration would end simultaneously with the primary visa duration.

    Before getting married, it is wise to clarify the legal status of the U.S. person, ask for the proof of the same (such as U.S. passport for U.S. citizen, green card for green card holder, visa stamp for non-immigrant visa holder etc.) and you should make the photocopy of that and keep with you.

  2. Documents:
    You should not be scared or shy of asking for the following documents and verifying that they are correct, before getting married:
    • Ask for Social security card, driver's license and make copies to keep with you.

    • Proof of income and tax returns. This would be required for affidavit of support purposes.

  3. K-1 visa:
    • Please keep in mind that if the U.S. person has already petitioned for K-1 visa twice in the past, it is not possible to petition third time before getting the waiver first.

    • If you are already married, it is illegal to show the marital status single just to get the K-1 visa. If you get K-1 visa now by hiding your marriage, if you are caught even 10 or 20 years later, you may be deported and if you have already become the U.S. citizen, your U.S. citizenship may be cancelled.

  4. If the U.S. person changes his/her mind, he/she may not file your green card petition, even after getting married to you. Even after filing the petition, he/she can withdraw the petition at any time or refuse to provide the affidavit of support.

  5. Even if you have never been to the U.S., the U.S. person can file for the divorce petition in his/her state of residence, and the U.S. court can grant such divorce. Unlike many other countries, it is not necessary to give the solid reason for the divorce in the U.S.

  6. If the U.S. person was already married earlier and is now divorced or widowed, it is much more difficult to get visa by getting married to such person, than getting married with the person who was never married. That is due to the fact the consular officer may suspect the chances of fraud with the previous marriage. In that case, make sure to ask for the divorce certificate or death certificate of the previous spouse of the U.S. person. You should also get the photographs and other proof of the previous marriage of the U.S. person with previous spouse to prove that the previous marriage was genuine too.

  7. Even though some countries allow more than one wife for the persons of certain religion, the U.S. law does not allow that. Therefore, such persons are not allowed to get married to more than one person and apply for the green card for the spouse.

  8. If you were married with the U.S. person for less than two years when you got the green card, your would get the conditional green card. You will have to apply for permanent green card 21 months after that, by removing the conditions. You will have to provide the proof of bona fide marriage. In the absence of some extraordinary circumstances, it is not possible to remove the conditions and get permanent green card without the support of the U.S. spouse. Some people take unfair advantage of this. Please keep this in mind when selecting the spouse.

  9. If you get married just to get the green card, it is a fraud and punishable crime, up to $250,000 ( Two hundred fifty thousand dollars) fine and up to 5 years in prison. Person can be stripped of U.S. citizenship (if became U.S. citizen through this route) and deported out of the U.S.

  10. While waiting for the greencard petition to be approved and/or for priority date to be current, have the constant contact with your U.S. spouse, and exchange letters, greeting cards, gifts and also ask the U.S. spouse to send you money through bank channels to show the proof of genuine relationship and support.

  11. If there is a lot of mismatch between two spouses in terms of education, financial status, physical status (height, weight), language, age, race, religion etc., it might be more difficult to get green card based on such marriage as it is more likely that such marriage is not genuine.