Green Card on a Tourist Visa

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for a Marriage Green Card on a Tourist Visa in the U.S.

Marriage green cards offer a unique pathway to permanent residence for international couples. If you are engaged or married to a U.S. or permanent resident and entered the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2), you can apply for a green card if you follow certain rules. Applying for a marriage green card while visiting the U.S. on a tourist visa is a complicated process, and requires a great deal of attention to detail. In this blog post, I will explain the process of obtaining a marriage green card, including the requirements, application process, and the timeline. We will also discuss some common questions and concerns about the process, and provide tips and resources to help couples navigate the process.

Questions About Applying for Permanent Residence Based on Marriage

Are you considering applying for a marriage green card? Understanding the process and the requirements can help ensure a successful application.

How long does it take to get a marriage green card after entering the U.S. on a tourist visa (B-1/B-2)? Generally, the timeline for obtaining a marriage green card can range from 10 to 13 months, depending on the individual circumstances of the couple.

 

Who is eligible to apply for a marriage green card? 

To be eligible for a marriage green card, the foreign-born spouse must be legally married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Additionally, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident must be able to demonstrate that they have the financial means to support their foreign-born spouse.

 

What documents are needed to apply for a marriage green card? 

The documents needed to apply for a marriage green card include evidence of the foreign-born spouse’s identity, evidence of the marriage, proof of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor’s citizenship or immigration status, and the marriage green card application form.

 

What is the process for applying for a marriage green card? 

The process for applying for a marriage green card requires the completion and submission of the marriage green card immigration forms. Once the application is submitted, the foreign-born spouse must attend an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer along with their U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor. After the interview, the USCIS will make a decision on the application.

 

What is the difference between filing a marriage green card application and a fiancé visa? 

A marriage green card application is used for couples who are already married, while a fiancé visa is used for couples who are not yet married.

 

How much does it cost to apply for a marriage green card? 

The cost of filing a marriage green card application varies, depending on the individual circumstances of the couple. Generally, the government filing fee is around $1,760, medical exam fee ranges anywhere between $200 and $600. You can expect to spend anywhere between $1,960 to $4,860 on your marriage green card application.

 

What are the risks of applying for a marriage green card?

All marriage green card applications fall under USCIS scrutiny for immigration fraud detection. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove that the marriage is bona fide by submitting a substantial amount of evidence such as joint bank account statements, proof of joint assets, joint residence, personal photographs, witness affidavits, etc. There is a risk that the application may be denied. Another potential risk is USCIS finding the foreign spouse to misrepresent their intent when entering the U.S. on a tourist visa. To avoid any misrepresentation issues, foreign citizen spouses should apply for a marriage green card no sooner than 90 days after their most recent entry on a B-1/B-2 tourist visa. More information about the 90-day rule can be found in this B-1/B-2 to marriage green card guide.  

 

What are the benefits of obtaining a marriage green card?

Obtaining a marriage green card allows the foreign-born spouse to live and work in the United States, and it also allows them to apply for U.S. citizenship after three or five years after becoming permanent residents.

 

Marriage Green Card Financial Requirements

Marriage green card applicants must provide evidence of their sponsor’s (also called “Petitioner”) financial stability to prove that the intending immigrant will not become a public charge and rely on public benefits. This includes demonstrating sufficient income to support both the sponsor and the applicant. Evidence of income must be provided, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and other evidence of employment. Assets such as a house, car, bank account, or investments can be also used . The sponsor must provide a signed affidavit of financial support and evidence of income that meets the minimum income requirements set by the U.S. government. 

Work Authorization During Green Card Processing

Securing a marriage green card can be a lengthy process, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made it possible for foreign spouses to work in the United States during the application process. Once the application for a marriage green card is filed, the USCIS can issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to the foreign spouse. This document usually arrives within 90 days after the application is submitted and is valid for one or two years.

Once the EAD is received, the foreign spouse may begin working in the United States. The EAD may be renewed on an annual basis while the marriage green card is pending. The foreign spouse must provide proof of the valid EAD to any prospective employer when applying for a job. This allows the foreign spouse to work legally in the U.S. while the marriage green card application is being processed.

With the EAD, the foreign spouse may take advantage of opportunities to gain employment, build their resume, and even start their own business. Furthermore, the foreign spouse can also begin building their own financial independence while they wait for the marriage green card to be approved. This is a great opportunity for many foreign spouses, and it can help to alleviate some of the financial and emotional stress that comes with the application process.

 

How Do You Apply for a Marriage Green Card?

Are you and your spouse looking to get a marriage green card? You’ll need to determine your eligibility and submit necessary forms and documents. 

First, you’ll want to take a few minutes to determine if you’re eligible for a marriage green card. Generally, you’ll need to show that you and your spouse are legally married, and the spouse sponsoring for a green card is a US citizen or permanent resident.

Once you’ve determined you’re eligible, the next step is to obtain the necessary forms and prepare the required documents

 

Step 1: Submit Form I-130

To apply for a marriage green card, the first step is to complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, along with Form I-130A, and submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form must include all necessary information about the petitioner, who is the U.S. citizen or green card holder, and the beneficiary, who is the foreign-born spouse. The petitioner must also include evidence of their U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency, as well as proof of their relationship to the beneficiary, such as a marriage certificate, proof of joint residence and assets, joint utility bills, joint car insurance, health insurance, etc.

In addition to the form, the petitioner must also pay the filing fee and submit two passport-style photos of the beneficiary, as well as any other supporting documents that are required, such as birth certificates or evidence of any previous marriages. Documents in foreign languages must be translated into English. Once all of the documentation is in order, the petitioner can then submit the application to the USCIS for processing. Once approved, the beneficiary can move to the next step and apply for green card and employment authorization. Spouses of US citizens are always allowed to combine Steps 1 & 2 and file Forms I-130 and I-485 at the same time (or “concurrently”).

Step 2: Apply for Your Marriage Green Card

The main forms you’ll need to complete during Step 2 are:

  • Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)

  • Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA (Form I-864)

  • Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765)

  • Application for Travel Document (Form I-131)

  • Report of Immigration Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693)

Each form must be accompanied by supporting documentation such as beneficiary’s birth certificate, passport, visa, I-94 form, petitioner’s proof of income, etc.

Once the application is submitted and fees are paid, all that is left to do is wait for a decision. Once the form has been accepted, you may be asked to attend a marriage interview. During the interview, USCIS will ask questions to confirm your marriage is genuine. The USCIS will notify you of their decision by mail. If the application is approved, the green card will be delivered by mail.

Once the marriage green card is approved and you’ve been married to your spouse for less than 2 years at the time of interview, you will receive a conditional green card. Conditional green cards will be valid for 2 years only. In order to remove conditions on your green card and receive a 10-year green card, you will need to file Form I-751 90 days before the expiration date of the conditional green card.