Permanent Residency Through Marriage

Obtaining permanent residency or green card status through marriage is one of the most common ways of gaining legal residency in the United States. Both heterosexual and same-sex marriages are recognized by Immigration.

Marriage based immigration requires the U.S. citizen spouse to file an immigrant petition on behalf of his or her foreign spouse. Upon approval of the immigrant petition, the immigrating spouse will either apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate outside the U.S. or, if eligible, submit an application for permanent residency while in the U.S. 

If applying in the United States, Immigration will require both spouses to appear for an in-person interview at a local USCIS Immigration Office. At the time of interview, the burden is on the married couple to prove to the Immigration Officer that their marriage is real. 

Simply producing a marriage certificate and photos is not enough to meet Immigration’s standard of an authentic or bona fide marriage. USCIS Officers often become suspicious of a marriage, even though the marriage is real, due to a lack of evidence and/or confusing testimony. If the married couple fails to meet the evidentiary burden at the interview, a second, more intense, interview will be scheduled when the spouses will be interrogated separately.

Our firm has many years of experience in marriage based immigration. At the initial consultation we identify potential “red flags” that might result in a second interview, as well as find inadmissibility issues, such as criminal convictions or prior immigration violations that will require a waiver of inadmissibility.

In addition to preparing and filing all of the required USCIS forms, we provide a “mock immigration interview” and an attorney will accompany the couple to the USCIS interview to safe guard their rights, aid in presenting the evidence of marriage and explain any legal issues to the Immigration Officer. 

If the marriage is less than two years old at the time of green card issuance, the permanent residency will be conditional.  After two years of conditional resident status the couple can remove the conditions of residence with the filing of a joint petition to remove the conditions.

It is important to note that even if the marriage has ended during the two year conditional period, the conditions of residency may still be removed provided the conditional resident can prove the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely to obtain a green card.