You Have Married a U.S. Citizen: What Are Your Next Steps Toward Permanent Resident Status?


You Have Married a U.S. Citizen: What Are Your Next StepsCongratulations on your new marriage! There are few events more beautiful than a summer wedding here in Tennessee. Now that you and your partner have become one, however, you have a few important steps to take to ensure that you and your new spouse can live happily ever after.

After you marry a U.S. citizen you may become eligible for a green card, which can eventually lead to U.S. citizenship. There are certain requirements that you must meet before you can apply for a green card following your marriage. After you get married both you and your spouse will be interviewed to determine if the marriage was entered into in good faith. They will also verify that all of your forms have been completed properly.

What is the first step to applying for a green card?

Your U.S. citizen spouse would submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to USCIS. The form must also include evidence of your marriage including a marriage certificate and other proof that the marriage is legitimate.

Adjustment of status

The AOS process allows you to apply for a green card without leaving the U.S. After your citizen spouse files the I-130 from you will receive Form I-797, Notice of Action, which will show that the Form I-130 was received and approved and that you may file the Form I-485 for adjustment of status.

Will I be able to work while I am waiting for a green card?

After filing the Form I-485, you can request work authorization by filing Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization (EAD). You will show this document to your employer as proof that you are allowed to work in the U.S

How can I get green cards for my relatives who want to come to the U.S.?

The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen include a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 and their parents. These relatives always have a visa number available.

If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, the U.S. citizen may be able to sponsor that person through the “family preference” category, which includes:

  • Unmarried children under age 21
  • Married children of any age
  • If the U.S. citizen petitioner is over 21, brothers and sisters

There is a limit on how many relatives may immigrate under the family preference category, so there will most likely be a waiting period before they will be able to get an immigrant number.

The first step is that your U.S. citizen relative files the Form I-130 and then it must be approved. Once the priority date on your visa is current, you can file for Adjustment of Status with Form I-485.

If you remain married to your U.S. citizen spouse you may apply for citizenship three years after obtaining your green card. You must meet the requirements of having a good moral character, having spent the majority of the three years living in the United States having the ability to speak, read and write in English and by passing a United States civics test.

The act of marrying a U.S. citizen does not mean that you will get a green card automatically. The U.S. government takes marriage fraud very seriously, so green card applications are scrutinized very carefully. Immigration to the United States is a complex topic that you would do well to discuss with an experienced immigration law attorney.

Planning your dream wedding and don’t know what to do next? LaFevor & Slaughter can help. Contact us to meet with an accomplished Knoxville immigration lawyer about your next steps