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How a spouse of a citizen may get a green card

When a California U.S. citizen marries a foreign national, it is possible for the foreign spouse to be able to qualify for and receive a green card on the basis of their marriage. The U.S. citizen must file the petition on behalf of their spouse after the marriage has happened.

After the marriage, the U.S. citizen spouse must complete the United States Customs and Immigration Services Form I-130, which is called the Petition for Alien Relative. The foreign spouse must complete the USCIS Form I-485, which is the application for the green card. Both of these forms may be mailed together in the same envelope.

If either spouse has been previously married, they will need to include divorce or death certificates for each prior spouse. A medical report from a USCIS doctor will also need to be submitted. If the foreign spouse wishes to travel while the application for a green card is pending, they will need to complete and submit Form I-131. Employment authorization may be granted if the spouse files a Form I-765. People should expect to be interviewed. During the interview, the USCIS will try to determine whether the marriage is a bona fide one. People should bring evidence that documents that their marriage is real, such as tax returns, bank statements and photographs.

When a spouse of a U.S. citizen wishes to get a green card, it is important that all of the documents are completed correctly and submitted to the USCIS. If people forget to include required documents or complete the submitted documents incorrectly, they risk that their applications will be denied. They thus may want to seek help from an immigration and naturalization law attorney who can assist in completing the required documents and gathering all of the evidence they will need.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber