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In the US, one can get a green card through marriage with green card holder. Not only US citizens have the right to petition for their spouses.
There are several reasons why people don’t apply for a green card through marriage with green card holders. First, many immigrants do not know that this is possible. Secondly, the spouses of green card holders cannot receive a green card in the United States if they are present in the U.S. illegally. Thirdly, people are frightened by a two year queue for family reunification with green card holders.
We have already found out that in the United States you can get a green card through marriage with green card holder. Therefore, we proceed to the second point. Indeed, if the spouse of the green card holder has overstayed legal status in the United States, it will not be possible to file for adjustment in the United States without leaving. This is stated in article INA 245(c) of the Immigration Code.
There is an exception to this rule. However, it applies to spouses of American citizens. Spouses of green card holders cannot use it. There are two options for the spouse of the green card holder who stayed in the United States longer than the legal non-immigration status allowed.
wait until the green card holder gets citizenship
First, one can wait until the green card holder acquires American citizenship. After that, they can apply for adjustment of status in the United States. But only if all other necessary conditions are met.
INA 245(c) forgives the spouses of American citizens for their illegal presence in the United States and even for illegal employment. This refers to cases when an immigrant came to the United States on any visa and stayed in the United States illegally.
However, if an immigrant illegally crossed the border, he will not be able to apply for adjustment of status in the United States. The only exception to this rule is in article INA 245(i). This exception exists for those immigrants who were petitioned before April 30, 2001. Thanks to this exception, even those who got into the US illegally can file for adjustment of status in the USA.
file a petition and ask for forgiveness for unlawful presence in the US
Secondly, it is not necessary to receive one’s green card in the USA. This can be done in one’s country through an American consulate. However, if an immigrant has accrued 6 months in the United States or a year of unlawful presence, he faces a ban on reentry for 3 years or 10 years, respectively. See the INA 212(a)(9)(B).
Once they approve the petition of the spouse, the green card holder, you can ask for forgiveness of the unlawful presence in the United States. To do this, an immigrant needs to prove that the spouse, the green card holder, or the parents of the immigrant, if they have a green card or US citizenship, will be seriously affected if the immigrant is denied a green card. Such a petition is filed on form I-601(a). If USCIS does not approve the petition, spouses will have to wait in the United States until the green card holder acquires American citizenship.
reunification through marriage with green card holder may take several years
Immigration through marriage with a green card holder falls into the F2A category of the visa bulletin. The US Department of State publishes a visa bulletin every month at this link.
Practice shows that the waiting period from the time of filing to obtain an immigrant visa through marriage with green card holder takes two years. However, every few years this situation changes.
For example, take July 2019. The June 2019 Visa Bulletin in the F2A category showed the priority date of July 15, 2017.
This means that in July 2019 only those spouses of the green card holders who filed their petition before July 15, 2017 could receive the green card.
But the visa bulletin for July 2019 shows letter C in the category F2A. C stands for Current.
This means that the queue for this category in July 2019 is already gone. Those who submit a petition in July 2019, hypothetically, can get a green card without waiting in line. However, in practice, it still does not happen without a queue.
Where to file for family reunification through marriage with green card holder?
The immigration service reviews petitions for six to nine months. During this time, a two-year queue may again appear in the visa application. However, if the spouse of the green card holder is legally present in the United States in July 2019, he may apply for adjustment of status in the United States. From the time of filing for adjustment, the spouse of the green card holder will be in the US legally. Even if the visa bulletin for August 2019 again shows a two-year queue in this category.
Spouses of green card holders can not spend two years in the United States on a tourist visa. Most often in such cases, they enter the United States on a student visa. A student visa allows one to stay in the United States until the end of studies. Those who entered the United States on a tourist visa or an international exchange program may change their status to a student in the United States. If they marry a green card holder, student status helps them stay in the United States with their spouse until they submit I-485.
Is it possible to apply for adjustment of status in the US for the spouses of green card holders?
To apply for I-485 in the United States, one must meet a number of requirements. First of all, the applicant must enter the US legally, that is, on a visa.
Secondly, one must be in legal immigration status in the United States at the time of filing an I-485 application.
Third, a marriage with green card holder or an I-485 application within 90 days of entering the United States on a non-immigrant visa may indicate the applicant’s immigrant intentions at the time of crossing the US border.
Fourth, one can only file I-485 application when the priority date for filing this application is current. The US Immigration Service determines each month which table of the visa bulletin to use when submitting an I-485 application. This information they publish here.
Moreover, one cannot be inadmissible. That is, one should not have convictions under one of the penal code sections prohibiting entry into the United States, etc.
immigration service error in June 2019
In June 2019 a curious situation occurred. In the US Department of State’s visa bulletin for July 2019, the F2A category was current. However, USCIS had indicated to use the second table for filing I-485 application.
And in this second table in the F2A category there was the date of March 8, 2019. That is, in fact, USCIS did not allow I-485 applications to be submitted through marriage with green card holder in the United States. USCIS corrected this illogical situation at the end of June 2019. They published a new, more detailed table:
Do you need help of Immigration Attorney with immigration through marriage with green card holder?
It’s easy to file an I-130 petition. However, the whole process may take several years. The petition passes through three institutions: the US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the National Visa Center, the American Consulate. It is easy to get stuck at any of the stages and lose time and money. An immigration attorney monitors the process from filing a petition to obtaining a green card. Often it does not cost much and payment is carried out in installments. You can see how much our office charges for assistance in such a process by clicking here.
The author of the article, immigration attorney Andrei Romanenko, helped hundreds of people in immigrating through marriage with green card holder.