Spouse of U.S. citizen is an “immediate relative” of the U.S. Citizen. This means that a spouse of U.S. Citizen is not within an immigration category that is limited by a quote established by U.S. Government.
How Can I Apply For U.S. Residence Based on Marriage With US Citizen?
You and your U.S. spouse must enter into a marriage either on the territory of the U.S. or outside of the United States if this marriage is recognized by the laws of the United States. Please note that same-sex marriages (not partnerships) are recognized by the U.S. immigration law. A spouse of the U.S. citizen in a same-sex marriage is eligible to apply for green card.
The process begins with filing Visa Petition for Alien Relative on Form I-130. The evidence to I-130 shall include the documentation demonstrating that the marriage is bona fide, e.g. joint lease agreement, joint bank statements, joint trips, vacation, tickets to visit each other, photographs, etc. You might discover that not all the documents usually recommended to demonstrate bona fide marriage are applicable to your situation. In this case, you can use other documents to show the U.S. Government that the marriage is bona fide.
I-130 along with the required documents shall be mailed to the appropriate USCIS address.
Please note that USCIS has the discretion to request additional documents on your case.
The further steps will depend whether you are in the U.S. or outside of the U.S.
In the United States
If you are in the U.S. after a legal entry and in a valid legal status, then you might be eligible for an adjustment of status. The adjustment of status is the process, which allows to change the applicant’s status from a non-immigration to immigration (greencard) without leaving the United States. Please note that there is a presumption of fraud and pre-conceived immigrant intent if a person applies for an adjustment of status within 90 days from the entry into the United States.
Form I-485 is used for adjustment of status. I-485 may be filed together or separately from I-130. You need to file I-130 but you do not have to wait for approval of I-130 to file for an adjustment of status.
After you mail your adjustment of status application, you can expect a notice from USCIS that I-485 was accepted for processing. If you filed your I-485 before your authorized stay in the United States expired, you receive the right to stay in the United States while I-485 is pending. If you stayed in the U.S. illegally before filing I-485, you need to consult an immigration lawyer.
Once I-765 and I-131 are approved, you receive the right work in the U.S. and travel in-out of the United States. You should be attentive to the limitations imposed on travelling with I-131 while I-485 is pending. If you had any period of illegal stay in the United States, you should consult an immigration attorney before travelling outside of the United States.
You will be called for an immigration interview with your spouse by USCIS. You must attend the interview with your spouse.
You will be notified at the interview whether USCIS approves your case, requests additional evidence or intends to deny your case. If USCIS approves your I-485 at the immigration interview or later, a green card will be mailed to you.
Please note that unless you have been married to US citizen for 2 years, the first green card comes with a condition which must be removed 90 days prior to the 2-year anniversary from the date of issuance of your conditional green card.
Outside of the United States
If I-130 is approved, USCIS will notify you and your attorney. Then USCIS will transfer your case to the National Visa Center (NVC).
NVC will handle the immigrant visa application process. You must pay the immigrant visa fee, complete DS-260 application (DS-261 for electronic processing), collect the required documents, mail them to NVC (email for electronic processing), NVC will schedule an appointment with a local Consulate, you should schedule a medical examination and attend the interview with your US Spouse and children who will immigrate with you.
If your immigrant visa is approved, you will be able to enter the United States. At the entry, the border control of the U.S. will place a stamp in your passport (i-551). This stamp evidences that you entered the United States as green card holder (permanent resident). This stamp authorizes you to come back to the U.S. if you need to travel even before your green card arrives in the mail.
Some of the grounds of inadmissibility that most often cause people trouble are those barring entry to people who have committed certain types of crimes, developed certain physical or mental illnesses, broken the immigration laws, or appear likely to become a public charge (receive public assistance due to financial need).
When Can I Apply for Citizenship?
If you are married and living with your U.S. citizen spouse who applied for the green card for you, you become eligible to apply for citizenship 3 years after obtaining a green card.
If you are not longer married or not longer live together with your U.S.citizen spouse, you become eligible to apply for citizenship 5 years after obtaining a green card
Form N-400 is used to apply for citizenship (naturalization).