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Green Card Through Marriage

A green card gives you permanent residency in the United States, which means that you can travel in and out of the country more freely and can live and work in the US freely as well. If you want to secure a green card, one way you can do so is if you are married to a United States citizen. However, it is important to note that you cannot marry purely for a green card. Such marriages of “convenience” are considered to be immigration fraud and carry serious consequences. In many cases, if immigration authorities suspect that you may be entering into a marriage just to get a green card, they will investigate your marriage. They will ask you and your partner questions and even question friends and family to determine that your relationship is genuine. If you are found guilty of immigration fraud, you will be asked to leave the country and you will be denied a green card.

If you do genuinely marry a United States citizen for love, however, you likely qualify for a green card.  If your marriage takes place outside of the United States, you and your spouse will need to file a green card petition through a US consulate. Visit the consulate in the area where the applicant lives to apply. The process may take between six to nine months and during this time the applicant must usually live abroad and not enter the US.

Another option is to apply for a green card inside the US. While this takes longer – usually between a year up to eighteen months – while the application is pending the applicant can usually live in the US with their spouse. In order to apply for a green card in the US, you will first want to file for a K-1 or fiancee visa. Once this visa is granted, you have 90 days to enter the US and marry in the US. Once the marriage has taken place, the applicant can then apply for green card status. In most cases, a conditional green card is issued. Eventually, the applicant can adjust status again and apply for a regular green card. The advantage of this process, however, is that the K-1 visa holder is usually given authority to live and work in the US right from the moment of entry. As well, the couple do not have to live apart while waiting for the green card application process to take place.

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