What is the process to get a green card or US visa through marriage?

Green card, also known as the United States Permanent Resident Card, is one of the most valuable documents in the world that authorizes an immigrant to work and live permanently in U.S. A green card is mandatory for you to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of U.S. An individual who marries a U.S. citizen is also eligible for a green card.     

Getting a green card through marriage is a multi-step process. If you live in U.S. and want a green card for your spouse, then you must fill an I-130 petition for alien relative with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with a proof of your relationship. In addition, you should submit Form I-485, a marriage green card application for adjustment of status (AOS) to get a permanent resident card. While filing the petition, you also need to produce documents like spouse's U.S. citizenship, biographical forms for husband and wife with photos attached, and marriage certificate. The USCIS has the right to approve and deny the petition based on the proofs submitted. Once it is approved, the USCIS will intimate you and then, send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center for visa approval. The petition will remain in the center until it issues a visa number to the US embassy or consulate. An immigrant visa number is provided based on a preference system. Immediate relatives like parents, spouses, and children under the age of 21 are given first preference. As soon as you get an immigrant visa number, your foreign spouse is eligible for an immigrant visa. Before getting an immigrant visa, your spouse must undergo a medical examination. The consular officer chooses a doctor for examining the applicant, and he/she must pay the fee for the doctor along with the visa fees. Immigrant visa will not be issued, if the spouse has communicable disease, dangerous physical or mental disorder.

After an immigrant visa is issued for your foreign spouse, the final step is to change his/her status to permanent residency. If an immigrant visa number is available, the USCIS will accept and process the I-485 form submitted along with the I-130 petition.

The USCIS will conduct a series of checks on the background of the applicant. Once the adjustment of status application is accepted, your spouse is allowed to reside in U.S., but he/she is not allowed to leave the country until the application is approved or rejected. In some cases, the applicant is also called for an interview in USCIS. If the application is approved, your spouse becomes an LPR, and the green card is mailed to the applicant.    

If you have married a foreign spouse, who lives outside U.S., then you can apply for a K-3 non-immigrant visa. For a non-immigrant visa, you need to file I-129F Petition with the USCIS. It will take 5 to 8 months approximately to get the K-3 spouse visa. The visa is valid up to two years and it offers complete freedom to your spouse to live, work, and study in U.S while he/she is waiting for her green card approval. Apart from K-3, the spouse of a U.S. citizen can also enter the country with a B-2 visitor visa.  

The Australia Marriage Visas website has created a detailed guide with instructions on how to go through this rather complicated process of obtaining the green card through marriage.  Get it today!

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