Green Card Marriage: How it Work


A Green Card marriage is one in which a foreign national marries a US citizen, resulting in the foreign national getting a US Green Card. The process isn’t necessarily more complicated than other Green Card applications, but it does involve more steps.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about a Green Card marriage, including the application process and the steps towards citizenship.

Green Card Marriage

How a Green Card Marriage Works

A Green Card marriage simply involves a foreign national obtaining the right to permanently live in the USA as a result of marrying a US citizen. The marriage doesn’t have to happen in the US, providing your marriage certificate is recognized as a valid document.

The marriage can be between a foreign national and a US citizen or US Green Card holder. Regardless of their status, you’ll need documents to prove it when you apply for your own Green Card.

The basic process for getting a marriage Green Card is the same as other applications. You submit Form I-130 with appropriate evidence to prove your marriage is legitimate. The spouse with citizenship or Green Card status is automatically your sponsor.

It is important that you familiarize yourself with the laws of immigration before you apply for a Green Card. Any violation of the laws associated with a green card marriage can result in permanent deportation and hefty fines.

Extra Information for Approval

A Green Card via marriage is one of the most open to fraud. After all, marrying a US citizen for convenience is much easier than, say, finding a job that allows you to enter the country. In the past, the system was left wide open for abuse, which is why there are now further checks involved.

First and foremost, the relationship with your spouse must be based on genuine love. The relationship should not exist solely for the purpose of acquiring a Green Card to the United States. That said, if your husband or wife currently resides within the US and has acquired US citizenship this will make you instantly eligible for a Green Card.

On the other hand, if your husband or wife currently has permanent residency within the United States but they hold a Green Card instead of acquiring US citizenship, then the procedure for acquiring your Green Card will be different.

If your marriage is less than 2 years old, regardless of your spouse’s status, your results will be slightly different (more on this below). Also, you might have to go for further interviews in which you’ll both be quizzed about the other. You shouldn’t worry about this. Providing your marriage is legitimate, you should pass.

Green Card Approval

As usual, your Green Card marriage application goes through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once you have submitted your petition, the Department of State will inform your foreign national husband or wife that your Green Card is available.

Providing everything has been approved, the foreign national spouse will be issued with an IR1 Green Card. This is a standard 10-year Green Card.

If the foreign national spouse is temporarily outside of the United States at the time of approval, it will be necessary for them to go to the American Consulate to complete the Green Card process.

It is also important to mention when you apply for a visa and you are approved, there may not be a number immediately available. If you are visiting your foreign national spouse in the US, it may become necessary for you to return to your native country to avoid breaking the law for overstaying your visit in the United States.

Getting a Green Card through marriage is straightforward for many but in some cases, you can save time by following the step-by-step guide provided by US Green Card Advice. They also provide a list of the best immigration lawyers in the United States that can assist you with your Green Card Marriage.

Conditional Status

When you apply for a Green Card you may only be awarded conditional status, also known as a CR1 Green Card. Conditional status occurs when you have been married for less than two years.

The purpose of conditional status is to avoid marriage scams that take place in an effort to acquire Green Card status. To remove the conditional status from your Green Card, you must wait until the second anniversary of your marriage. After this anniversary you have up to three months to submit a petition to eliminate the conditional status and switch to an IR1 card.

Green Card Marriage and Divorce

In the unfortunate event that the couple gets divorced, the Green Card holder doesn’t need to give up their permanent status. If it’s within the conditional period described above, this might be the case, but those issued an IR1 card have nothing to worry about.

The only thing it’ll really impact is the path to citizenship described below. Once someone has been issued an unconditional Green Card, there’s very little that’ll make USCIC take it away.

Citizenship from a Green Card Marriage

One of the biggest benefits of a Green Card marriage (other than the marriage, of course) is that holders only need to wait 3 years before applying for citizenship. Normally, it’s 5 years, so this is almost a 50% drop in waiting time before beginning a naturalization application.

The naturalization process is otherwise the same as normal; you just get to start it sooner. Although there’s no explicit reason why the timeline is shorter, USCIS likely assumes you’re more likely to remain in the country long-term if you’re married than if you’re working.

As you can imagine, there are a few specific conditions. The first is that the cardholder lives continuously in the USA, but this is normal. The second is that the couple lives together as a married couple for the 3 years before application.

If the couple gets divorced during this period, the 3-year rule no longer applies. It doesn’t mean Green Card holders can’t apply for citizenship, it instead means they have to wait 5 years like everyone else. If this happens, the naturalization process reverts to normal.

Final Thoughts on a Green Card Marriage

Getting Your Green Card through Marriage is arguably “easier” than other routes into the country, it does require you to find a legitimate US spouse! Whether this is easier than finding a job is entirely up to you.

However, for the easiest option, you can always apply in the Green Card Lottery using the Online application form provided by US Green Card Office.

You don’t need a spouse or a job, and you can bring your whole family along.

Sharing is caring - please share with your friends.