Marriage-Based Green Card


One of the most common ways to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. is through a marriage-based green card. If you are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for a marriage-based green card.


At Heckler Law Group, we’ve guided our clients through successfully applying for a marriage-based green card, while minimizing the risk of delays and denials.


Eligibility for a Marriage-Based Green Card


To apply for a marriage-based green card, you must be married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and be able to demonstrate that your marriage is bona fide, meaning that it is a genuine marriage and not entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.


Applying for a Marriage-Based Green Card


The process of applying for a family-based green card typically involves the following elements:


Immigrant Petition


The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse must file an immigrant petition on your behalf, to establish your relationship as a married couple.


Visa Availability


Foreign nationals married to U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives”.  This means that a visa is immediately available for the foreign national once the immigrant petition is approved.


The cases of foreign nationals married to U.S. lawful permanent residents fall under the classification of “preference category”.  Family preference categories have annual numerical limits, so there may be a waiting period before a visa becomes available.  Therefore the processing time for the entire process for these cases will depend, in part, on visa availability.


The steps involved in the process will depend on whether the foreign national is already in the U.S., or whether still outside of the U.S.


Applicants in the U.S. – Adjustment of Status


Foreign nationals who are married to a U.S. citizen and who are in the U.S. can concurrently file an application to adjust status to permanent resident along with the U.S. citizen’s petition.


Foreign nationals in the U.S. who are married to U.S. permanent residents will be able to file to adjust status to permanent resident only when a visa is available.  This may be at the same time that the petitioner files the immigrant petition or it may be at a later time.  Foreign nationals must be in the U.S. in a legal non-immigrant status in order to file to adjust status.  


Along with the adjustment of status application, applications for temporary work authorization, and permission to travel, known as advance parole, can be filed. Prior to the processing of these applications, the foreign national will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment at a USCIS Application Support Center where fingerprints and a photograph will be taken.


Green Card Interview


Prior to the approval of the foreign national’s green card, an interview may be scheduled at a USCIS office which both parties must attend.


Applicants Outside of the U.S. – Consular Processing


Whether married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, if the foreign national is outside of the U.S., after approval of the immigrant petition by USCIS, the remainder of the green card process would take place through the National Visa Center for preparing for an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Consulate.  For spouses of U.S. lawful permanent residents, the Consular process would start upon visa availability.


Begin Your Green Card Application


If you are concerned about your immigration status or that of your spouse, don’t wait to receive legal guidance. Contact Heckler Law Group to schedule your consultation and receive compassionate and effective legal representation.

Heckler Law Group