Sponsoring Your Spouse For a Green Card
U.S. immigration law supports family reunification by allowing a citizen or permanent resident to petition for their spouse to join them in the United States. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses. The process begins the same way for citizens and permanent residents – the petitioning spouse files an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for the beneficiary spouse. The form collects information relating to the petitioner’s immigration status, captures biographical information of both the petitioner and beneficiary, and inquires into previous marriages of either party.
The citizen or permanent resident spouse will have to provide supporting documentation of his or her immigration status such as a copy of a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, U.S. passport, or Green Card. To prove family relationship, the petitioner must also provide a copy of the marriage certificate and proof that any previous marriages of either party have been legally terminated. Passport-style photographs of both spouses must also be submitted, along with the USCIS Biographic Information form (G-325A). Additionally, providing documentation of joint ownership of property, joint tenancy in a leased common residence, or co-mingling of financial resources can constitute proof of the genuineness of the marital relationship.
Once the I-130 is filed and approved, the process will vary based upon the legal status of the petitioning spouse. Spouses of U.S. citizens have an immigrant visa immediately available for them and can undergo consular processing if outside the United States, or apply for adjustment of status if within the United States. Spouses of Green Card holders will have to wait in line until a visa is available before moving to this next step. Note: filing the I-130 and I-485 concurrently is possible for spouses of U.S. citizens who are present in the United States.
If you have been married for less than 2 years when your spouse is granted permanent resident status, your spouse will receive permanent resident status on a conditional basis. To remove the conditions on residence, you and your spouse will have to jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence.
Thoroughness, attention to detail, and patience are all necessary when moving through the family petition process. If you have additional questions, always consult with an immigration attorney before proceeding further.