What are the steps to obtain a green card through marriage

Obtaining a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen is a common and straightforward way for foreign nationals to gain permanent residency in the United States. This process allows spouses of U.S. citizens to live and work permanently in the country. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of obtaining a green card through marriage.


Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before you begin the process, it is important to determine if you are eligible to apply for a green card through marriage. The eligibility requirements include:

  • Being legally married to a U.S. citizen
  • Having a valid marriage certificate
  • Being in a bona fide marriage (a genuine marriage based on love and commitment)
  • Both partners being at least 18 years old

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Once you have determined your eligibility, you will need to gather the necessary documents to support your green card application. The required documents may include:

  • Proof of identity (passport, birth certificate, etc.)
  • Proof of marriage (marriage certificate, wedding photos, joint bank account statements, etc.)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship of your spouse (U.S. passport, birth certificate, naturalization certificate, etc.)
  • Proof of legal entry into the United States (visa, I-94 record, etc.)
  • Proof of any previous marriages and divorces (divorce decree, annulment papers, etc.)

Step 3: File Petition

Once you have gathered all the required documents, the next step is to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition is known as Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the relationship between you and your U.S. citizen spouse and initiates the green card application process. It is important to fill out the form accurately and provide all the necessary supporting documents.

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Step 4: Attend Interview

After your petition is approved by the USCIS, you will be scheduled for an interview at a USCIS office. The purpose of the interview is to verify the authenticity of your marriage and assess your eligibility for a green card. During the interview, you and your spouse will be asked questions about your relationship, living arrangements, and future plans. It is crucial to be well-prepared and provide truthful and consistent answers.

Step 5: Receive Conditional Green Card

If your marriage is determined to be genuine and you meet all the eligibility criteria, you will be granted a conditional green card. The conditional green card is valid for two years and serves as proof of your lawful permanent residency in the United States. It is essential to maintain your marital relationship during this period to be eligible for the next step.

Step 6: Remove Conditions

Within the 90-day period before your conditional green card expires, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This form should be filed jointly by you and your spouse. The purpose of this step is to prove that your marriage is still genuine and continues to exist. You will need to provide evidence of your ongoing marital relationship, such as joint bank account statements, lease agreements, utility bills, and affidavits from friends and family.


Obtaining a green card through marriage can be a life-changing process that allows foreign nationals to establish permanent residency in the United States. By following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can navigate the process with confidence and increase your chances of a successful application. Remember to consult with an immigration attorney or seek professional advice to ensure you meet all the requirements and complete the process smoothly.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to obtain a green card through marriage?

The processing time for a green card through marriage can vary depending on various factors, such as the USCIS workload and the complexity of your case. On average, it can take anywhere from 10 to 38 months.

2. Can I apply for a green card if my spouse is not a U.S. citizen?

No, you can only apply for a green card through marriage if your spouse is a U.S. citizen. If your spouse is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may be eligible for a different immigration category.

3. What happens if my marriage ends before I receive a green card?

If your marriage ends in divorce before you receive a green card, it may affect your eligibility for the green card. However, there are certain exceptions and provisions in place to protect individuals who entered into a bona fide marriage but experienced marriage dissolution.

4. Can I work while waiting for my green card through marriage?

Yes, you may be eligible to apply for a work permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), while your green card application is pending. The EAD allows you to work legally in the United States until your green card is approved.

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