A citizen of United States marrying foreign-born persons and petitioning for them to obtain permanent residence in the U.S is very common. Per immigration laws, spouses of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and therefore are exempt from all numerical quota limitations. Getting a green card through marriage to a US citizen is considered the fastest way.
Battered spouses and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents get special benefits under US immigration laws. A US citizen can also get a temporary visa for a fiancée and get married once he/she arrives in the US.
Marriage in the US:
To get a green card through marriage, the US citizen has to submit a visa petition (Form I-130). The following have to be attached to the visa petition:
- Forms G-325 (Biographical forms) for both the husband and wife.
- Proof that the petitioner is a citizen (US Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate)
- Certified copy of the marriage certificate
- Certified copies of the documents if previous marriages were terminated including final divorce decrees, and certificates of annulment or death.
The foreign-born spouse has to submit an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485). On receiving and reviewing your application, the USCIS will schedule an interview within a few months.
Marriage outside the US:
Earlier, the foreign-born spouse had to remain in his/her country until he/she got a green card. However things changed post August 14, 2001 as temporary K-3 and K-4 visas became available and this permitted the spouse and children of US citizens to get temporary visas to come to the US and process the paperwork in the US.
The US citizen spouse has to submit a visa petition to either the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over his residence or directly to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where the foreign-born spouse resides. Once the visa petition is approved, the foreign-born spouse will receive a package from the National Visa Center (NVC). The package will detail the foreign-born spouse of the documents that has to be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (passport, police clearances, medical examination results, etc.). The package will also have certain documents requesting biographic data that has to be completed, signed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Normally, the foreign-born spouse will be interviewed and issued an immigrant visa within three to six months. The State Department charges a fee to issue an immigrant visa.
The conditional resident card is valid for two years. Both spouses must submit a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the two-year condition within the 90-day period before the end of the two year period.
If the marriage was terminated due to divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign-born spouse may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement at any time before the end of the two-year period. Once approved, a permanent resident card with ten year validity will be issued.
A permanent resident is the one who is granted authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. As a proof of the permanent resident status the individual is given an identification or an authorization card which is commonly called as Green Card.
A Green Card is said to be valid for ten years and must be renewed before the expiration date. Certain green cards will not have an expiration date. Although these green cards do not have an expiration date, the law requires all cards to be updated to the new version. The latest green cards have an expiration date and are required to be renewed every ten years as this will make the USCIS to improve the card with additional features like updating the photographs to avoid fraud.
If the Green Card is obtained through marriage to a US Citizen or a permanent resident, it is called as Conditional Green Card. The Conditional Green Card is valid for two years and must be renewed before the conditional resident status expires. To remove the conditions on the green card the form I 751 is used.
How to renew your green card
Permanent Residents whose Green Cards have already expired or will expire shortly must renew the green card. If one fails to renew the Green Card he may experience difficulties in employment, be barred from reentry into United States until a new card is obtained, restricted from other benefits, and is said to be as Out of Status. Although the person with an expired green card will not lose his permanent residence status, he is required by the law to hold a valid green card.
Reasons to Renew Green Card:
An individual must adopt the green card renewal process , if
• the green card was valid for 10 years and is expiring or has expired
• he/she has been a permanent resident of the United States and now taken up Commuter status;
• he/she has been in a Commuter status and now taking up residence in the U.S.;
• the status has been converted automatically to a permanent resident status;
• he/she has an old edition of the card;
Green Card Renewal process:
To renew the green card the form I90 ( Application to Replace/Renew Green Card) must be filed by the applicant. The completed applications must be sent to USCIS along with the supporting documents and relevant fees.
Every green card renewal application must be included with the required supporting documents such as,
- Photocopies of the front and back of the Expired or Expiring Green Card
- Personal Identification document such as a State Driver’s license card or a valid passport
Once the application for green card renewal has been received by the USCIS, they will check if all the required evidence provided are correct and complete. USCIS may then request for more information and might require the applicants to appear for an interview . If the Green Card Renewal application is approved, the new Green Card will be mailed to the applicant. If the application is denied, USICS will send in writing the reason for rejection of the application.
Being a Green card holder (permanent resident card) is a proof of being officially granted immigration benefits to live and work in the United States legally. You can work and live in the US permanently.
Form I-90 for green card renewal :
Normally, a permanent resident card (green card) is valid for ten years. You need to go through the green card renewal process by filing Form I-90, Application for green card replacement with the USCIS. If your green card has already expired, make sure you renew your card at the earliest. Those renewing expired green cards will not be penalized. The same form is used when you want to change any biographic information on your card i.e if your name has changed because of marriage and also when you lose your card and need a green card replacement. Also, you will not lose your permanent resident status if you do not renew your green card. Permanent resident status does not expire.
However, per immigration laws, you need to carry evidence of your status (a valid, unexpired green card or temporary passport stamp). If you do not renew your expired / expiring card, you may experience difficulties in obtaining employment, benefits and re-entry into the US from abroad. Always, apply for your new green card before you travel and bring with you on any trip the temporary documentation you received. If, after traveling abroad, you try to re-enter the US with an expired green card, you may experience a delay during the inspections process at the port of entry,
Also, your employers will not accept an expired green card to verify employment authorization for new hires. You can use alternate documents that you will find on the Form I-9 (Employment eligibility verification form) such as social security card and driver’s license or have temporary evidence of status, such as an I-551 stamp or even the receipt notice for your Form I-90, Application to replace permanent resident card.
A conditional permanent resident is different from a permanent resident. A conditional resident will get a card that is valid only for two years. One has to remove the conditions during the 90 day period before the card expires and this card cannot be renewed. The conditions must be removed else you will lose your status. One has to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on residence. Once conditions are removed, you will get a permanent resident card that will be valid for the next ten years.
Once you send completed I-90 application to the USCIS, you will to receive an Application Receipt Notice with a 13-character Application Receipt number within 30 days. This proves that USCIS has received your application and that it is being processed. You can check the status of your application with this receipt number. You also will be informed about the dates for fingerprinting and subsequently, your interview date with instructions related to the supporting documents you need to bring. The entire green card renewal process approximately takes three months.
If you gained the residence status through marriage to a US Citizen or Permanent Resident you must file the form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence). If your dependent children acquired conditional resident status along with you, then they also must be included in the application to have their conditional status removed. If your dependent children acquired conditional resident status after the status was adjusted or if the conditional resident parent deceased then those dependent children must file Form I-751 separately to have their conditional status removed.
Conditional Green Card:
The Conditional Residence Status is available for two years from the approval date. It will expire when the two year conditional period is over and you will be deported and removed. To avoid the deportation and removal , you need to file form I-751, 90 days or less before your conditional residence expires. After you apply Form I-751, USCIS will grant an extension of 1 year interval time in United States until the request to remove conditions is approved or denied.
There are other reasons you can continue filing the Form I751 with a waiver when you,
- entered the marriage in good faith, but spouse subsequently died;
- entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or
- entered the marriage in good faith and have remained married, but have been battered or
subjected to extreme cruelty by U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse; or
- termination of the status and removal would result in extreme hardship.
If you file based on marriage, you must provide documents such as birth certificates of children, joint financial statements, and letters from employers, friends and relatives to prove that the applicant obtained the conditional residence status without fraudulent.
If you file based on your joint filing to be waived then you need to provide documents such as \
- evidence of death certificate (if spouse deceased),
- copy of divorce certificate (if marriage terminated),
- evidence of abuse (if you or your child was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty).
When to File
If you file this form along with your spouse, you must file it during the 90 days before your second anniversary of the date if approval of your Conditional Residence Status.
If you are filing this form that the joint filing requirement with your spouse to be waived, then you may file this application anytime after conditional residence status is granted or before your removal.
If you fail to file this form then you will lose your permanent residence or you will be subject to deportation. If your delay to file your application is not your fault, you may then provide an explanation to the USCIS to execute the late filing.
After your Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence was received by USCIS, they will check for completeness , including submission of all initial evidence. You may then be requested to appear for an interview at USCIS office. The decision on approval of your petition depends on your eligibility and the requested benefit.
What supporting documents do I need to submit with the Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence?
Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence is a petition used to remove the conditions on residence. If you are a conditional resident and obtained the conditional status through marriage, then you should use Form I-751 for removal of conditions. Supporting documents with Form I-751 include certain initial evidences like copy of Permanent Resident Card. Form I-751 can be filed jointly or you could seek a waiver in the joint filing requirement.
The following supporting documents with Form I-751, should be submitted to the USCIS:
* Copy of the front and back of your Permanent Resident Card.
* Evidences to prove that your marriage is legitimate.
* Evidences for seeking a waiver (If filing to waive the joint filing requirement)
* Court order if you have changed your name legally.
* English translation of all foreign language documents from an authorized translator.
You have to submit evidences to prove that your marriage is legitimate and that you have not violated any law of the United States. To prove the evidence of your marriage, the following supporting documents with Form I-751 should be submitted:
* Copy of your marriage certificate.
* Copy of birth certificates of the children you have had together.
* Documents of Joint ownership or property such as financial records of assets, federal tax return, insurance policies.
* Rental receipts of all the apartments that you have occupied together.
* Affidavits from at least two people, who have personally known you and your spouse from the time the conditional residence was granted. The person who signs the Affidavit should witness before the immigration officer that whatever is written in the Affidavit is true.
If you are seeking a waiver in the joint filing requirement, the following supporting documents with Form I-751 should be submitted:
* Copy of death certificate, if spouse is deceased.
* Copy of divorce certificate, if marriage was terminated.
* If battered or subject to extreme cruelty, submit evidence of abuse such as reports issued by the police or court.
If you are residing outside the U.S. due to military orders or government orders, you should submit the following:
* Two passport style photographs of the applicant and dependents.
* If you or your dependents are between the ages of 14 and 79, complete Form FD-258, Fingerprint Cards.
The supporting documents with Form I-751 should be filed for all dependent children who got conditional residence concurrently with you. Carefully prepare the supporting documents, as this would make an easy way for the approval of your petition. Put all the documents in a large envelope and send them to the USCIS. Do not send the original documents to USCIS, unless you are asked to send. If you are requested to send the original documents, USCIS keeps a record of the original documents and returns them back to you. Have a copy of all the documents you send to USCIS, as you may need them for your reference.
The filing fee for the petition includes the application fee and the biometric fee. After USCIS receives your petition, you will be informed about when you should appear for the biometrics.