The immigration system was founded to promote family unity. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, one may petition a number of family relatives, including spouses, children, parents and siblings, to come live in the United States as a permanent resident. One of the most common immigration petitions is one based on marriage.
Under the current immigration law, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may petition for his spouse or fiancé to join him/her in the United States. In this blog post, I answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding a marriage-based visa.
What are the requirements to petition for a marriage green card?
One of the main requirements is that the marriage must be bona fide. This means the marriage must be genuine and real. Further, you must be legally married in a foreign country or in the United States, and the petitioner must be a United States citizen or green card holder.
Can a permanent resident petition for his spouse?
Yes, either a citizen or resident may petition her his spouse living abroad. However, one major difference for permanent resident petitioners is the wait time. Processing time for a spousal petition filed by a permanent resident is about 2 years. This is a major difference from the processing time of a petition filed by a U.S. citizen petition, which is only a few months. In some case, it may be beneficial and faster for the petitioner to gain citizenship prior to filing the spousal petition.
What if we are engaged by not yet married?
To petition for your spouse, you must already be married. Therefore, if your fiancé is living abroad, and you wish to submit an I-130 spousal petition, then you must travel abroad to marry prior to submitting your petition. Another option is marrying in the states if your fiancé is currently here with another visa (such as a B1/B2 visitor visa). However, a B1/B2 visitor cannot enter the United States with an intention to marry. DHS may assume visa fraud in the case that a non-immigrant marries an American within 90 days of entry.
If you are not currently married, then you can also file for a fiancé visa using the I-129F petition. This petition can often take more time to process and involves more complications than the I-130 spousal petition. To gain permanent residence, you must marry your fiancé within 90 days of her entry to the U.S. under a K1 visa.
What are the income requirements to sponsor a spouse?
A petitioner must file form I-864 to sponsor the immigrant spouse. This form is required to prove that you meet the minimum income requirements to sponsor an immigrant to live in the United States. Form I-864P is used to determine the minimum income requirement needed to sponsor most family-based immigrants. See Form I-864P here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-864p
If the petitioner does not meet the poverty guidelines published in form I-864P, then he must find a co-sponsor to submit a second form I-864. The co-sponsor can be a friend, family member or anyone else who meets the minimum income requirement.
What is the filing fee for a marriage petition?
A marriage petition has multiple steps, depending on whether the immigrant spouse is currently abroad or in the U.S. The first step is filing the I-130, which currently has a filing fee of $535. The second part of the process is the adjustment of status (if the spouse is in the U.S.) or the consular process. Fees differ widely depending on which process you go through.
How long is the processing time for a marriage green card?
Processing times vary depending on whether the petitioner is a citizen or permanent resident. A U.S. citizen petitioner can expect processing times below one year from time of filing I-130 to consular processing. A permanent resident petitioner should be prepared to wait over 2 years between time of filing the I-130 and conclusion of consular processing.
Do I need a lawyer to apply for a marriage green card?
Petitioners are not required to file with a lawyer. However, considering the current trends and frequency of denials, filing with an attorney is highly recommended to properly assess the case and avoid common pitfalls in the application process. An attorney can help avoid simple mistakes that can be very costly down the road.
As always, our office is here to answer your questions and assist in any way we can. You may contact us at 786-734-1671 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.