2020 has brought tumultuous change to our society, economy, and legal system in the United States. The immigration system has taken a significantly hard hit, especially since it was already under attack before the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, USCIS offices reopened on June 4th, and many processes have seen a slow return to normal. If you are considering applying for a marriage-based green card, now is the time to begin the process—and it is also time to hire a qualified professional.
The Challenges of Marriage-Based Green Cards
Because foreign spouses of U.S. citizens are in the highest preference category, they are not placed onto a waiting list. Compared to other categories, the process is relatively fast.
While the process may take less time than other categories, it is anything but easy. Of all the different types of visas, no application experiences a higher level of scrutiny than marriage-based green card petitions. This is because the U.S. government is greatly concerned about marriage fraud, in which international couples marry simply to obtain an immigration benefit for the foreign partner.
As a result, you will need help from an experienced attorney to prove the validity of your marriage to the adjudicating officer.
To prove a bona fide marriage, you may need to provide evidence of:
- Financial commitments (e.g. joint bank accounts, joint ownership of real estate, designating each other in insurance policies, etc.)
- Cohabitation (e.g. utility bills showing the same address, affidavits from landlords, etc.)
- Familial commitments (e.g. birth/adoption certificates of children, medical records regarding pregnancy or fertility treatments, etc.)
- Romantic relationship (e.g. gift receipts, tickets for vacations, photos, affidavits from neighbors and friends about the nature of your relationship, etc.)
An attorney can also help you prepare for the interview, which is critical for your success. Even the slightest discrepancies between what you say, what your partner says, and what your application says can raise suspicion and persuade the adjudicating officer to deny your petition.
The Second Stage
If you and your spouse were married for less than two years before petitioning for permanent residence, USCIS will typically grant a conditional green card. A conditional green card grants all the same rights as a standard green card, but it is only valid for two years. This is why your marriage-based green card application process is not over once you obtain initial approval. After two years, you will need to apply to remove conditions on permanent residence.
This requirement grants USCIS a second opportunity to assess your marriage. If you file for divorce before the two-year mark, you will likely have a very difficult time removing conditions on permanent residence, as USCIS may believe you married simply to obtain a green card.
If you succeed, however, USCIS will remove these conditions, and you will have a standard green card that must be renewed every ten years.
Ready to Begin?
If you or your partner are applying for a green card based on your marriage, now is the time to get in touch with The Sekou Clarke Law Group. We have years of experience helping clients submit applications that are thorough, accurate, and detailed, accompanied by substantial evidence that demonstrates the validity of their relationship. If you want the highest possible likelihood of a successful petition, let our team handle your case.