Marriage-Based Green Cards and Visas: What You Need to Know

Green card issues are often complicated. You decide to take the adventure of a lifetime and travel abroad to the U.S. for school or a job. Or maybe you came to visit friends or family. Before you know it, you meet the person of your dreams and you fall in love. It seems like it’s straight out of a Hallmark movie until you realize you have to leave the U.S. and go back to your home country.

Just when it seemed hopeless, your partner proposes marriage. This is not only romantic, but it allow you to remain in the United States with your spouse. If you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for a marriage-based immigrant visa or green card. Like all immigrant-related issues, this can be complicated, and certain criteria must be met.

Your Marriage Must Be Legal To Apply For Green Card

You must be legally married – meaning that your marriage is officially recognized by the government where you were married and that records of your marriage can be obtained. You will need to show your marriage license. A certificate given to you by a church is not enough – you need an official government document.

Under these criteria, domestic partnerships do not qualify for marriage-based visas or green cards. One loophole you might be able to pursue is if you have entered into a common law marriage. If this is the case, make sure to work with your immigration attorney to ensure you qualify.

You Must Be Eligible To Marry

If you have not yet gotten married, make sure you are eligible to do so. You will need to work with your immigration attorney to determine if you are eligible to get married or what steps need to be taken for you to get married.

You Must Have a Bona Fide Marriage

To get a marriage-based green card, you must prove to the government that your marriage is bona fide, meaning that at the time of your marriage you and your spouse intend to establish a life together. You cannot get married for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card. This is illegal. You must demonstrate that you are together as married couple. You will need to prove this to qualify for a green card, so be prepared to show requested documentation (including a lease with both names on it, bills, or anything that shows you’re living together and functioning as a married couple).

You Must Marry a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

For you to obtain a marriage-based green card or visa, you must marry a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident. Marrying someone with a work visa who has only been granted temporary residence in the U.S. does not qualify. However, if this is the case, you can work with your immigration attorney to determine if you are allowed to stay here for the duration of your spouse’s temporary stay in the U.S.

Why Hire Us

When you need an immigration lawyer, let the experts at Johnstone Adams, LLC represent you.

Our experienced immigration lawyers assist businesses and individuals with immigration matters such as: non-immigrant and immigrant visas, family-based visas, employment based visas, Form I-9  compliance/audits, and other immigration matters throughout Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle. We provide each client with personal access to a team of senior lawyers who thoroughly understand the complex web of immigration laws and the enormous impact these laws can have on a person’s life or a business’s bottom line.

Ranked in the 2022 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 12 practice areas, we have experts in many areas of law to give our clients top-notch representation. In business for more than a century, our firm can mix its experience with the ability to evolve with the changing times.


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