US citizens may marry foreigners, in this situation, couples can choose the United States as their place of residence. In order for a foreign spouse to qualify for immigration to the United States, it is necessary to obtain a Spouse Green Card or Marriage Green Card. It is interesting to note that Immediate Relative visas, unlike the employment-based immigration visas, do not have an annual cap. In other words, qualified applicants do not need to wait for years until their priority date becomes current.
In this article, we are going to explain the Marriage Green Card application, requirements, interview questions, costs, and more.
What is a Marriage Green Card?
A Spouse Green Card or Marriage Green Card allows a foreigner who is married to a US citizen to immigrate to the United States to live with his or her spouse. This visa not only helps to unite the family but also allows the foreign spouse to study and work. Therefore, they can start their life in any state they want.
The holder of the marriage Green Card is allowed:
- Enter or leave the United States
- Get a driver’s license
- Open a bank account
- Study and work
After a period of time, when the foreign spouse meets all the requirements, he/she can apply for US citizenship. If the couple has children, their child will automatically be a US citizen.
Unfortunately, some people may marry a US citizen just to get a Marriage Green Card. The US government in no way endorses or encourages such a practice. Therefore, in order to prevent these cases, two categories of Spouse Green Card visas have been defined:
- Conditional Resident Spouse Visa (CR1): If a US resident marries a foreigner, foreign spouse can come to the United States on a CR1 visa, which is immigration status. If two years have passed since their marriage, the foreign spouse are allowed to change their current status to an IR1 visa. If the couple gets a divorce before the completion of the two-year condition, the foreigner must return to his/her country.
- Immediate Relative Spouse Visa (IR1): After completing the two-year requirement, the foreigner can receive the Immediate Relative Spouse Visa or ER1. In this way, the visa is valid indefinitely.
What are the requirements for a Marriage Green Card?
If a couple decides to live in the United States, they should consider the following:
1. Legal marriage
Couples must be legally married to each other. Marriages that happen to only get US residency are not acceptable. Besides, if a couple just lives together and does not have a legal marriage, they can still not apply for this Green Card.
2. Having a US citizenship
One of the spouses must be a US resident with a valid address. He/she must also be able to support his/her foreign spouse in the United States.
How to apply for an IR1 visa?
The ER 1 visa application process has two main steps. The applicant’s spouse must first submit the petition to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. The USCIS then reviews the petition and makes a decision. If approved, the applicant can begin the visa application process through the US Embassy in his/her home country.
File the petition
As mentioned, the US citizen or applicant’s spouse must first file a petition to the USCIS by completing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives. The application fee is $ 535, which must be paid by the applicant’s spouse.
The petition is processed at the Department of Homeland Security, and USCIS notifies the US citizen of the result of the appeal. If the appeal is rejected, the USCIS will explain the reasons for the rejection. If approved, the file will be sent to the National Visa Center or NVC. From this point onward, NVC will be responsible for handling the case.
NVC first assigns a case and invoice ID number to your file and then sends this information along with instructions to the applicant in his or her home country.
Apply for an IR1 Visa
Once the petition is approved, the applicant needs to go to their country’s embassy to begin the visa application process. The steps for applying for an ER1 visa are:
Completion and submission of Form DS-260
Applicant must complete DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application online. To access this form, you can visit the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) and complete it using your case number. This form contains questions regarding your personal information and your purpose for immigrating to the United States. When Form DS-260 is submitted, a confirmation page will appear that you must submit to the NVC as part of your documentation.
Perform medical examinations
Anyone planning to immigrate to the United States should do some medical checkups and get some vaccines. For this purpose, you should see a licensed physician who will perform the necessary examinations and complete and sign the documents. The instructions that NVC sends to you contain descriptions of medical procedures.
Prepare the documents and submit to the NVC
As an IR1 visa applicant, you must submit the following supporting documents to the NVC:
- A valid passport
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support which is signed by the applicant’s spouse
- DS-260 confirmation page
- Documents related to medical examinations and vaccinations
- Two photos
- Criminal records
- If you have served in the military, you can provide your military records.
- You can provide the following documents to prove that your marriage is genuine:
- Marriage certificate
- Wedding Album
- Honeymoon tickets
- List of payments paid for the wedding party
Depending on the case, you may need to provide additional documentation.
Attend an interview
Applicants for IR1 visas must attend an interview at the embassy as part of the visa application process. If the applicant’s documents are complete and correct, NVC will schedule an interview. On the day of the interview, the consular officer will ask questions about the purpose of the applicant’s trip to the United States.
Get another NVC package and travel to the US
If the visa application is approved, the foreign spouse can come to the United States without any problems. Another package of NVC will be delivered to the applicant at the embassy. Note that the applicant should not open this package under any circumstances. Upon arrival in the United States, immigration officers open the package and decide whether the applicant is allowed to enter the United States.
What questions might be asked in the Marriage Green Card interview?
The interview will not last long, and you will rarely stay in the interview room for more than 10 minutes. So with prior preparation, you can have a successful interview. Some of the questions that may be asked in a spouse visa interview are:
- What is your spouse’s name? Explain a little about his interests and hobbies.
- What is your spouse’s job, and how much does he or she earn?
- Has your spouse been married or divorced before?
- How and when did you meet your spouse?
- Does your spouse understand and speak your language?
- In which US states are you going to live?
- How long has your spouse been living in the United States?
- Tell me a little about your wedding.
- Have you ever traveled to the US?
- What are your plans after arriving in the United States?
- What are the names of your spouse’s parents and siblings?
- Have you met your spouse’s family?
- How do your family members feel about your marriage?
- As a couple, why do you decide to live in the United States instead of your country?
- How do you picture the future of your life in the next five years?
- Do you have relatives in the USA?
- Do you know your spouse’s friends?
How much does it cost to apply for an ER1 visa?
The IR1 visa applicant and his/her spouse must pay the following fees to process their visa application:
- The petition fee is $ 535.
- The cost of Form DS-260 processing is $ 325.
Applicants need also to pay a fee for the supporting documents and translation of the documents into English.
How long does it take to evaluate the submitted documents and issue a visa?
Since the issuance of this visa does not have an annual cap, the processing time is not long. Generally, depending on the circumstances, most people receive their visas after 8 to 10 months.
How can IR1 visa holders obtain US citizenship?
After you have been on the IR1 visa for a while, you can apply for a Lawful Permanent Resident or Green Card. To do this, you must submit your petition to the USCIS by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The USCIS will process your request and, if approved, will send you a Green Gard within a few weeks.
Let’s sum up …
In this article, based on the most up-to-date updates, we have answered the questions that green marriage card applicants are likely to face in the visa application process. Besides, on the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries.
We will be happy to receive your questions and suggestions through the comments section. If you have experience obtaining a visa, you can share it with other readers and us through this website. Sharing your experiences will be invaluable because it will help others make better decisions and make fewer mistakes.