Applying for a marriage-based green card allows a U.S. citizen, or an immigrant with permanent residency status, to petition for their spouse to receive a specific type of green card that allows their foreign spouse to become a permanent resident of the United States.
There are strict requirements to consider when applying for a marriage-based green card. In addition to filing numerous forms and paying fees, the married couple will need to provide proof that the marriage is bona fide, or legitimate. Both spouses are required to undergo an interview with an immigration officer from USCIS.
Once approved, there may still be conditions applied to your permanent residency status. If you were married for less than two years as of the date of your green card interview, then you will only be granted a temporary green card. A temporary green card is valid for only two years. During this time you must maintain your eligibility for U.S. permanent residency status.
With 90 days of your two year conditional green card expiring, you and your spouse can file a petition, along with proof that you have been living together as a married couple, to renew your green card without further conditions attached.
It is important to note that a U.S. permanent residency, or “green card”, is not the same as naturalization, or becoming a U.S. Citizen. Individuals with a permanent residency status can continue their journey to become a U.S. citizen, or they can maintain the permanent residency status. Permanent residency renewals are required every 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely, so long as eligibility requirements are continuously met.
However, if you wish to become a U.S. citizen and your spouse is already a U.S. citizen, then your wait time is cut from holding a permanent residency status for 5 years to only 3 years. You will have to meet other eligibility requirements. For more information on becoming a U.S. citizen or the naturalization process, then contact our office or check out our page on Citizenship and Naturalization.