When a U.S. citizen marries a citizen of another country, the couple may want to share their lives in the United States. If the U.S. citizen spouse is older than 21 years of age, he or she has the right to seek a “green card,” which signifies permanent resident status, for his or her spouse. Permanent residency allows both spouses to share their lives in the U.S. without facing legal problems related to immigration.
Couples may seek a marriage visa based on any marriage that is legal in the U.S. state where it was conducted – including same-sex couples whose marriage is legal in their state. A couple may also seek a marriage visa even if they have been married only a short time. The foreign national spouse receives a “conditional green card.” While this conditional green card allows the spouse to live and work in the U.S., it does not grant full permanent residency status until after two years and an additional immigration application.
During the application process, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) investigates the marriage, seeking evidence that the couple entered into a real or “bona-fide” marriage. If the USCIS believes that the marriage was made solely for immigration purposes, it may terminate the permanent residency status. Even if the couple divorces or the marriage is annulled within the first two years, however, the foreign national spouse may retain permanent residency status if he or she can prove that their marriage was real when it began.
An experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney can help you navigate the process of obtaining a marriage visa as a spouse, ensuring that all requirements are met and that you are prepared for each step of the process. For a consultation, call the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, P.C. today at (213) 375-4084.