If you marry a US citizen and want to establish your life in the United States, the first step to your US citizenship path would be applying for a green card. However, marrying an American citizen won't make you eligible for U.S. citizenship directly and immediately. There are certain requirements that you have to fulfill to apply for a green card and ultimately get your U.S. citizenship through marriage to an American citizen.
Are you eligible for a marriage-based green card?
The application process of permanent residence through marriage is a little bit more complicated than you can think of. To get a green card (also see marriage green card application), you need to meet certain criteria before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These are as follows:
- Your marriage has to be legal in the eyes of the government, where it took place.
- You have to prove that you are the spouse of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident of the US. If your spouse is an American citizen, you need to provide his birth certificate, citizenship certificate, and US passport with the application. For the latter, a copy of your spouse's green card is enough to prove his resident-ship.
- You must show documents before USCIS that you both are building a life together in the US. It means your marriage is legitimate.
- You need to show proof that neither of you is married to anyone else. If you have a prior marriage relationship, you need to showcase a divorce order or related documents to verify that it has ended.
- You must be admissible to the United States. The US government maintains strict rules and regulations in the immigration process for national security. Thus, for example, some of the major grounds of inadmissibility for permanent residence which restrict entry to people who have committed certain types of crimes (drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, money laundering), have a certain physical or mental disorder, engaged in unlawful immigration activities, or likely to become a public charge.
- Fill Form I-130 to show your marriage is real and apply for a Permanent Residence Card with Form I-485 or apply for an immigrant visa through Form DS-260.
When To Apply for US Citizenship? - Marrying To A US Citizen
You are lucky enough if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen as the US government gives priority to US Citizens while giving green cards. If you marry to US citizen, you don't need to wait for a long five years to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process. People married to U.S. citizens and living the whole time in the U.S. can get the facility to apply for permanent residency three years after getting a green card.
Take Advice From Immigration Lawyers
By now, it's clear that marrying to a U.S. citizen does not guarantee your permanent residence in the U.S. Your applications for marriage-based green cards will go through detailed scrutiny, as the US government takes deceptive marriage very sincerely. Hence, an experienced immigration lawyer can guide you to clear your doubts on complex U.S. immigration laws and substantial requirements.