Navigating the immigration process in the United States can be a complex and multifaceted endeavor, especially when it involves family-based petitions and marriage-based Green Card applications.
For anyone wanting to file such a petition, it’s imperative to understand the intricacies of a Family-Based Petition filed by a U.S. Citizen for a Green Card through marriage to another U.S. Citizen, a process that often takes place within the United States. This pathway to legal permanent residency offers the opportunity for foreign spouses to join their U.S. Citizen partners and establish a life together in the United States.
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Understanding Family-Based Petitions
A Family-Based Petition is a formal request made by a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident to sponsor a family member for immigration to the United States. The primary purpose is to reunite close family members.
The time it takes to process a Family-Based Petition can vary widely, ranging from several months to a year or more. Family Preference Categories are also subject to numerical limits, and there may be waiting periods for immigrant visas availability, especially for siblings and married children.
To be eligible for a family-based petition, you must meet the following criteria:
U.S. Citizenship Petitioner
Legal Citizenship: The petitioner must be a U.S. Citizen. Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders) do not have the authority to file a Family-Based Petition.
Age Requirement: There is no specific age requirement for the petitioner.
Qualifying Relationships: Eligible relationships include spouses, parents, children (both minor and adult), and siblings.
Marital Status: If the couple is married, the U.S. Citizen petitioner must be legally married to the foreign spouse. This means any prior marriages must be legally terminated (e.g., through divorce or annulment).
Intent: The marriage must be genuine and not entered into solely to obtain immigration benefits. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) looks for signs of a bona fide marriage, such as shared financial accounts, joint property ownership, and evidence of cohabitation.
Foreign Spouse Petitioner
Legitimate Marriage: The foreign spouse must be legally married to the U.S. Citizen petitioner. Common-law marriages or marriages that are not legally recognized may not be eligible for immigration benefits.
Admissibility: The foreign spouse must not be inadmissible to the U.S. This could be due to a criminal history, certain health issues, or previous immigration violations. Inadmissibility issues may require additional waivers or legal remedies.
No Fraudulent Activity: The foreign spouse must not have engaged in fraudulent or misleading behavior during the immigration process. This includes misrepresenting facts on immigration documents or using fraudulent documents.
Not Subject to Grounds of Deportation: The foreign spouse should not be subject to deportation or removal proceedings. Certain criminal convictions or immigration violations can trigger deportation proceedings.
Additionally, it’s crucial to gather and provide thorough documentation to support the eligibility of both the U.S. Citizen petitioner and the foreign spouse. This may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, divorce decrees (if applicable), evidence of joint financial responsibilities, and any other relevant documents that establish the authenticity of the marital relationship.
By meeting these eligibility criteria and providing accurate documentation, couples can strengthen their case for a successful Family-Based Petition and Green Card application through marriage.
Filing A Family-Based Petition for a Spouse
Documentation and Application Process
The U.S. Citizen spouse must submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, along with the necessary supporting documents to establish the authenticity of the marital relationship. These documents may include evidence of the marriage, such as the marriage certificate, proof of U.S. Citizenship of the petitioner, and documentation establishing the relationship’s legitimacy.
USCIS service centers process I-130 petitions. U.S. citizens can also file them at U.S. embassies or consulates in some instances. They will also be required to pay a fee at the time of the filing.
Adjustment of Status Process
The Adjustment of Status process is undertaken by the foreign spouse already present in the United States who wishes to obtain legal permanent residency (Green Card). The U.S. Citizen spouse must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The biometrics appointment is crucial for identity verification, as well as conducting security and background checks on the foreign spouse. At the appointment, the foreign spouse’s fingerprints and photographs are taken at a USCIS facility, and these biometrics are cross-checked with various databases.
A designated civil surgeon must perform a medical examination and complete Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)
The U.S. Citizen spouse must demonstrate the financial capability to support the foreign spouse.
The Marriage Green Card Interview
The Green Card interview aims to verify the authenticity of the marital relationship and ensure that all provided information is accurate.
Before the interview, applicants should gather original copies of identification documents, their marriage certificate, and any additional evidence of a genuine relationship. Couples should also familiarize themselves with each other’s personal history and relationship details to confidently answer questions.
Conditional Residence and Removing Conditions
Conditional Green Card
In cases where the marriage is less than two years old at the time of obtaining the Green Card, the foreign spouse receives a conditional Green Card, valid for two years.
Removing Conditions (Form I-751)
Within 90 days before the conditional Green Card expires, the couple must jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.
What Other Lawful Permanent Resident Family Members are Eligible for a Green Card?
Other family members of lawful permanent resident (LPR) who are eligible to apply for a Green Card are included in the following family “preference immigrant” categories:
F1: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children.
F2A: Spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of LPRs.
F2B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or older) of LPRs.
F3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.
F4: Siblings of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.
What are the Grounds of Inadmissibility for a Green Card for Family Preference Immigrants?
Family preference immigrants, like immediate relatives, must also meet specific eligibility criteria to qualify for a Green Card. However, family-preference immigrants are subject to additional grounds of inadmissibility.
Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be challenging, especially when dealing with grounds of inadmissibility. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can help assess your specific situation and determine the best course of action to address any potential inadmissibility issues.
Here are some of the common grounds of inadmissibility for Family Preference Immigrants:
Certain criminal convictions can render an individual inadmissible. This includes crimes involving moral turpitude, drug-related offenses, multiple criminal convictions, and certain other serious offenses.
Certain health conditions can make an individual inadmissible. These may include communicable diseases of public health significance, failure to obtain necessary vaccinations, or mental disorders with harmful behavior.
Likelihood of Becoming a Public Charge
If the government believes an immigrant is likely to become dependent on public benefits for support, they may be deemed inadmissible. To determine this, USCIS considers factors like age, health, family status, education, and financial resources.
Security and Related Grounds
This includes individuals who have engaged in terrorist activities, supported terrorist organizations, or are involved in espionage or sabotage.
Membership in Totalitarian Parties
Being a member of a totalitarian party or advocating for the overthrow of the U.S. government can lead to inadmissibility.
Previous Immigration or Immigrant Visa Violations
Individuals who have previously been deported, removed, or overstayed immigrant visas may be deemed inadmissible.
Fraud or Misrepresentation
Providing false information or fraudulent documents during the immigration process can result in inadmissibility.
Individuals who have been unlawfully present in the U.S. for a certain period of time may face bars to re-entry.
Participation in human trafficking or smuggling of persons into the U.S. can lead to inadmissibility.
Ineligible for Citizenship
Individuals ineligible for U.S. citizenship due to specific circumstances may also be inadmissible.
Waivers may be available for some of these grounds of inadmissibility, depending on the specific circumstances. Additionally, some exceptions and provisions may apply in some instances.
Suppose you or your loved one might face one or more of these factors. In that case, it’s in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable immigration lawyer who can mitigate any issues and increase your chances of approval.
Is The Family-Based Petition and Green Card by Marriage Right for You?
The Family-Based Petition and Green Card by Marriage process within the United States provides a pathway for foreign spouses to join their U.S. Citizen partners and establish a life together.
By understanding the eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, and procedural steps involved, couples can navigate this process effectively, ultimately leading to legal permanent residency and the opportunity for a prosperous future in the United States.
Need Help with Family Based Petition Call TZG Law Today
TZG Law is here to provide professional guidance and support in navigating the complexities of immigration law. With our team of experienced immigration attorneys, we specialize in various areas of immigration, including Family Based Petition, employment visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and more. Whatever your immigration needs may be, we have the knowledge and skills to assist you.
Take action today! Contact TZG Law at 385-396-4599 or click here to schedule your initial consultation with Tina. Let us be your trusted partner on your immigration journey.