Marriage-Based Green Card
K-1 Nonimmigrant Visa – Fiancée of a U.S. Citizen
K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen Fiancée of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen Fiancée to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a Fiancée visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the Fiancée must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.
K-3 Nonimmigrant Visa – Marriage to a U.S. Citizen
K-3 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen. This visa category is intended to shorten the physical separation between the foreign-citizen and U.S. citizen spouse by having the option to obtain a K-3 nonimmigrant visa overseas and enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition. K-3 visa recipients subsequently apply to adjust status to an LPR upon approval of the petition. Note that a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen outside the U.S. must apply for the K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place. Eligible children of K-3 visa applicants receive K-4 visas. Both K-3 and the K-4 visas allow their recipients to stay in the United States while immigrant visa petitions are pending approval by USCIS.
Green Card Marriage to U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR):
A U.S. citizen or LPR can bring his or her spouse to live in the United States as an LPR.
If the foreign national spouse of a U.S. citizen is inside the United States (through lawful admission or parole), the U.S. citizen can file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (I-130 petition), and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status (AOS application), at the same time. However, if the foreign national spouse is outside the United States, the U.S. citizen must first file I-130 petition. Following approval of I-130 petition and completion of National Visa Center (NVC) processing, the foreign national spouse attends immigrant visa interview at the appropriate U.S. Consular post abroad.
For an LPR whose foreign national spouse is living in the United States (through lawful admission or parole), he or she must first file I-130 petition. After approval of the Form I-130 and upon availability of immigrant visa number, foreign national spouse can submit AOS application to adjust status. Except in limited circumstances, the foreign national spouse must have continuously maintained lawful status in the United States in order to adjust status.
If the foreign national spouse of an LPR is outside the United States, the LPR must first file I-130 petition. Following approval of the I-130 petition, and provided the immigrant visa numbers are available, upon completion of National Visa Center (NVC) processing, the foreign national spouse attends immigrant visa interview at the appropriate U.S. Consular post abroad.
Conditional to Unconditional LPR
Foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens and LPRs receive conditional permanent residence status. This nonrenewable legal immigrant status is intended to help USCIS determine if such marriages are bona fide. During the two-year conditional period, USCIS may terminate the foreign national’s conditional status if it determines that the marriage was entered into to evade U.S. immigration laws or was terminated other than through the death of the spouse.
Within 90 days before the end of the two-year conditional period, the foreign national and his or her U.S.-based spouse must jointly petition to have the conditional status removed. If the petitioner and beneficiary fail to file the joint petition within the 90-day period, a waiver must be obtained to avoid loss of legal status. Assuming conditions in the law have been met and an interview with an appropriate immigration official uncovers no indication of marriage fraud, foreign national’s spouse conditional LPR status converts to unconditional LPR status.