You may be wondering, can I apply for a marriage-based green card in the US? If a person who is not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident marries a citizen, he or she has the same legal status as before. However, that person then becomes eligible to immediately seek to become a lawful permanent resident. As a permanent resident, that person will have most of the rights and privileges of a U.S. citizen, and will be eligible for naturalization after five years.
If you and your spouse are together in the U.S., you don’t want to be separated during the immigration process. You probably don’t want to take the risk of leaving the country to go to an Embassy to apply for an immigrant visa with the hope that you get the visa and can come back here.
Many couples want to file their marriage-based green card cases in the U.S. You want to stay together during the process, not be separated for months or more, and not take the risk of you not being able to return to the country and your spouse if your visa is denied. Marriage and Immigration is a tricky thing.
Can I Apply for a Marriage-Based Green Card in the US?
Whether you and your spouse can file your case in the United States and stay together throughout the entire process or you will have to leave the country at some point depends on the specifics of your situation. It’s very important to know what you qualify to do. There are people who don’t qualify to file for a marriage-based green card in the U.S.
It’s important to understand if you qualify to file in the U.S., because if you don’t, you may waste thousands of dollars in attorney fees and government filing fees on something that isn’t possible. There are also people who won’t qualify to return to the United States if they leave and apply at an Embassy. If you’re a person who has that issue, it’s extremely important to know this before you leave the country and cannot come back for years.
What you qualify to do in a marriage-based green card case depends on specific personal information about you and your spouse, including:
- How you entered the United States, how many times you’ve entered and left the country, and whether any of your entries were without authorization
- Any prior marriages you or your spouse have had
- Any children either of you have, whether in or out of the U.S. and whether they plan to immigrate to the United States or not
- Your history of any arrests, guilty pleas, or convictions
- Your immigration history, including anything that has happened with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, any applications you have filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and anything that has been submitted at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Any false statements made to U.S. government officials to enter the United States, obtain a visa or other document, or get an immigration benefit in the United States
Marriage Green Card Tips
What you qualify to do and how difficult your case may be can turn on any of these issues or other considerations. Since your marriage-based green card case can turn on any one of several specific pieces of information, it’s important for you to know how strong your case is and what potential issues you might face.
It’s also important for you understand that the U.S. government may raise issues that you don’t expect or bring up facts that you didn’t remember, so you have to be prepared to respond to these concerns. Failing to respond or sending an incomplete or inadequate response at best will cost you time and money, and at worst may cause a denial of your case.
If you don’t qualify to file your marriage-based green card case in the United States, It’s important for you to be sure that you qualify to get a visa if you leave the country to apply at an Embassy. If you will be required to complete extra steps in your process after leaving the country, you may have to stay outside the U.S. for 18 months or for years depending on your situation.
Houston Immigration Lawyer Marriage Green Card
Our office has recently represented individuals in the following situations:
- People who had to apply for a marriage-based green card but who we knew would have to file a waiver (special permission to become a resident) because of a criminal record
- People who cannot complete their entire marriage-based immigration process in the United States and must go to an Embassy to apply
- People who qualify to file their marriage-based immigration cases in the United States, but will have challenges proving that they qualify and may have to fight their cases in immigration court
- People who were accused of misrepresenting their status on previous immigration applications. (In one case, we were able to obtain a copy of the immigration file and confirm that our client did not misrepresent himself.)
- A person who was prepared to leave the United States to apply for a visa to come back and get her green card, but who we determined did not qualify for this. If she had left the country, she would have been denied the visa and would have been stuck outside the United States for 10 years.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced two major policy changes recently. The USCIS will begin to deny applications that do not appear to meet basic eligibility criteria without sending a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny, it’s important for you to be sure that you’re filing an application that you qualify to file. Otherwise, you may pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in filing fees for something that is ultimately denied.
We start our cases out with a thorough consultation to determine your potential options and figure out the best way for us to help you achieve your immigration goals. If you’re ready to talk to a top immigration attorney about your case, contact our office to schedule a consultation by clicking the orange button below.