How to Obtain Permanent Residency through Marriage

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First and foremost, congratulations on your marriage! The next big step may be to apply for a marriage green card if you and your spouse plan to live permanently together in the United States. Unsure if you qualify or what the application process looks like? No worries! In this article, I will answer the most common questions about marriage-based green cards. In addition,  we will learn about the experience of obtaining a marriage-based green card from one of our own writers, Isabel Cristancho! 

Next, I am going to answer the following questions:

  1. What is a marriage-based green card?
  2. Who can apply for a marriage-based green card?
  3. What documents are required to file an application?
  4. What is the interview process like?
  5. What questions are asked during the interview?
  6. Where can I go if I need assistance with my application?

What is a marriage-based green card?

According to USCIS, if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can become a permanent resident (obtain a green card) based on your family relationship.

U.S. citizens can petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse (husband or wife);
  • Unmarried children under 21 years of age; or
  • Parents (only if the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older).

Whereas permanent residents can only petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse (husband or wife);
  • Unmarried children under 21 years of age.

What documents are required to file an application?

It is important to note that every immigration case is different. Therefore, every couple will provide specific information and evidence about their relationship. But as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to provide the following supporting documents: 

  • Marriage certificate;
  • Birth certificate for both parties;
  • Birth certificate(s) of children (if any);
  • Divorce decree(s) (if any);
  • Proof of citizenship or permanent residency of the petitioner; and 
  • Marriage bona fides include but are not limited to, joint bank statements, joint lease contracts, family photographs, joint tax returns, and affidavits of support from family and friends. 

Please note that these are not all the documents you will need to file for a marriage-based green card. For the entire list, please click here

What is the interview process like?

Recently, USCIS has been waiving interviews for certain applicants. However, if your interview is not waived, you will receive an interview appointment notice (Notice of Action I-797C) stating the date and time of your appointment. 

As previously stated, every case is different, and various factors will determine whether or not you have an interview and will also determine the questions you and your spouse will be asked.

Isabel Cristancho, a Community Coordinator at Noticias Para Inmigrantes, recently received her marriage-based green card and has a few tips to share about the application and interview process.

“It is important to clarify that depending on the case, the officer will ask different questions. In my case, the officer asked these questions:

  • What is your address? (the officer asked the same question to my husband to see if both knew the address)
  • Where did you meet? 
  • How did you meet?
  • What are the names of your spouse’s parents?

Isabel also shared some advice, stating that “this process is about love and patience. The best advice I can give is to stay calm and be positive. I suggest practicing with your partner questions about their past, such as their high school name, names of their family members, and so on. It is important to remember that kind of information. Also, make an album with many pictures about your life together.”

Per Isabel’s suggestion, USCIS tends to focus on the history of your relationship, your day-to-day activities as a married couple, and your future plans together. 

Where can I go if I need assistance with my application?

We understand that navigating the U.S. immigration system without legal assistance is very difficult. This is why we wrote an article highlighting various organizations that offer affordable legal help in the U.S. If you want to read more about these reliable organizations, please click here

**Noticias para Inmigrantes is a media and communications organization that provides independent reporting and commentary on issues affecting immigrants in the United States. It should be noted that we do not provide legal assistance or legal advice for any case unless we interview a specialized source on the subject. It is important to clarify that each case is different, and it is important to consult with your attorney.

Mitzi Colin Lopez is a Digital Ads Content Creator and Experimenter at Noticias Para Inmigrantes. Her origin as a Mexican immigrant characterizes and drives her to empower the Latinx, Hispanic and immigrant communities. She is a recent graduate of West Chester University, where she obtained her bachelor’s in Political Science and Spanish. Her passions include social justice, advocacy, hiking, traveling, and weightlifting.