Getting a Marriage Green Card
If you are a United States citizen and you are married to a foreign national you can be the sponsor for your spouse’s Marriage Green Card. However, your foreign born spouse, also known as your Immediate Relative, has to meet certain eligibility requirements.
Before you get too excited you should know that Marriage Green Card applications receive incredible scrutiny from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. This is due to the high level of fraud in the category of Marriage Green Card applications.
Due to the fact that there are so many immigration advantages to being the Immediate Relative of a United States citizen, it is tempting for people to file fraudulent applications. A Marriage Green Card is the fastest and best way to acquire a Green Card. As a result, foreign born nationals who wish to be Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States will often file a Marriage Green Card based on a fake marriage. This is a huge mistake!
In order to acquire a Marriage Green Card, you must prove that the:
A Lawful Marriage
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act and the Code of Federal Regulations, a legal marriage for immigration purposes is defined as a marriage that is legally recognized by the government authorities in the place where the marriage occurred.
In most cases, the local government authorities can produce an official Marriage Certificate to help prove the existence of the marriage. This is not always as easy as it seems, especially in states that recognize Common Law Marriage. In cases like that it helps to petition the state Family Court for a Declaration of Marriage.
It is also good to know that you do not have to get married inside of the United States for the marriage to be considered lawful, although it is often times far easier to prove the lawfulness of the marriage if the marriage occurs inside the United States.
Lastly, neither the foreign born spouse nor the United States citizen can be married to someone else simultaneously. This means only one marriage at a time. So if the foreign born spouse or the United States citizen were previously married, that previous marriage has to be terminated before the marriage used to acquire the Marriage Green Card will be considered lawful.
Bona Fide Marriage
In addition to being a legal marriage, to get a Marriage Green Card you have to establish that the marriage itself is Bona Fide. This means that it cannot be a marriage simply to obtain an immigration benefit that the foreign born spouse would not be entitled to in the absence of the marriage. That is what is called a Sham Marriage!
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act and the Code of Federal Regulations, as those have been interpreted by both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and the various Immigration Courts, a Bona Fide Marriage is a marriage where two (2) people of opposite genders (for now anyway), enter into a marriage based on love, support and affection. It is a marriage where the couple intends, at the time the marriage is entered into, to live their lives together as husband and wife.
To demonstrate a lawful marriage evidence will have to be produced. That evidence can be anything relevant to the marriage, but at the very least should include the Marriage Certificate, statements proving the existence of joint financial accounts, wedding photographs, and letters of support from friends and relatives who swear to the existence of the marriage.
Other evidence of the genuineness of the marriage can be as follows:
1. Children – This would include copies of birth certificates of children born of the marriage. The names of both the United States citizen and the Immediate Relative spouse should be listed on the children’s birth certificates. In the case of adopted children, all of the adoption records should be presented.
2. Property – Common ownership if real property is strong evidence of a genuine marriage.
3. Insurance – Life, health and automobile insurance parties identifying each respective spouse as the designated beneficiary is good evidence of a real marriage.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but certainly these are some of the basic requirements to prove the existence of the marriage.
Marriage to a United States Citizen
Naturally, the United States citizen is going to have to prove his or her citizenship. The United States citizen can establish citizenship by producing evidence of the same. That evidence can take the form of a:
1. Birth certificate if the United States citizen was born inside the United States,
2. Certificate of Naturalization if the United States citizen became a citizen through the Naturalization process, or
3. United States Passport.