Tuesday: Immigration through marriage

By New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova
Receiving US permanent resident status or a green card through marriage is one of the fastest and easiest ways to stay in the US, provided that the marriage is real or bona fide. To start the process, the non-citizen has to marry a US citizen. Marrying a permanent resident will not do, unless the permanent resident becomes US citizen relatively fast after the marriage.
Then, the couple has to submit a package of documents to the USCIS. The process starts with submission of relevant forms by the US citizen, such as I-130 (petition for alien relative), I-864 (affidavit of support), G325A (biographical information), and by the non-citizen: I-485 (application for adjustment of status), G325A, I-765 (application for work authorization), I-131 (advance parole). In certain situations where the non-citizen has criminal convictions or has entered the country illegally (by fraud or crossing the border), the couple might have to file an extreme hardship waiver, or, if eligible, the new I-601A provisional waiver. 
Together with the forms, the couple must file evidence of real marriage (proof of common assets, statements from joint accounts, a copy of the lease, certificates of birth for their common children, etc). It is very important not to forget the filing fees. The current fees and forms can be found at www.uscis.gov.
After USCIS accepts the documents, it will send the applicants the receipt, and shortly after (within a month) the non-citizen will called for fingerprints. After the non-citizen complies with the fingerprints requirements, the couple will be called for an interview. The first interview should be expected within 4 months of the filing. The first marriage interview is conducted with both spouses present. Only if the immigration officer suspects fraud, will the spouses be separated for the second interview where they will be questioned separately. 
If the couple passes the interview, the non-citizen’s passport will be stamped with I-551 stamp, and within a month or two he/she should receive the green card. 
Alena Shautsova is a principal at the Law Office of Alena Shautsova, a full service Immigration Law Firm http://www.shautsova.com in Brooklyn, New York. The author can be reached at http://www.shautsova.com  and encourages her readers to contact her with questions.