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Securing a green card as the spouse of a citizen

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Family-based Immigration

A green card/permanent resident card allows someone to stay in the United States indefinitely. Provided that someone qualifies, they can work in the United States and own real estate here. They do need to continue renewing their green card every 10 years. That process requires filing paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Those who enter the country for employment or educational purposes may eventually become eligible for green cards. Many others secure green cards because of a relationship with a citizen or another permanent resident. A marital relationship can sometimes make an individual eligible for a green card. The foreign-born spouse of a United States citizen can potentially obtain a green card and stay in the country permanently.

What does a spouse seeking a green card need to know about that process?

The same general standards apply

Those who have a marital relationship with a citizen might expect preferential consideration by the USCIS. However, the same general standards apply to immigrant spouses as anyone else. They need to provide medical records and undergo background checks to confirm that they meet certain standards. Additionally, a spouse seeking a green card may have to attend an interview and answer questions to validate that they have a legitimate marital relationship with their citizen spouse.

The green card has conditions attached

While the USCIS imposes the same standards on spouses as any other immigrants, they do not grant the same exact immigration documents. A traditional green card is valid for a decade, but that is not true for a spousal green card.

The USCIS issues a spousal green card with conditions attached. The foreign national spouse has to submit paperwork to remove those conditions two years after receiving the initial green card. Those conditions help ensure that someone remains married for at least two years. Foreign spouses who obtain a green card for a marriage that has already lasted more than two years may not have to worry about conditional status.

After someone follows the paperwork requirements for a conditional green card, their document becomes a standard green card. The next time they seek to renew their paperwork, their marital status does not have an impact on their eligibility.

Having the right help can take much of the risk out of family-based immigration. Small mistakes can make a major difference for spouses hoping to legally enter the United States and secure a green card.