McBean Immigration Law

How to get a green card for your spouse

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Steps to Get Your Spouse a Green Card

Obtaining a green card for your foreign spouse can be a challenging and frustrating process. You want nothing more than to live with your loved one in the United States, but navigating the complex immigration system can feel overwhelming.

First, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Every year thousands of American citizens face this difficult situation. The good news is with the right help and guidance, getting a green card for your spouse is very possible. This article will walk you through the essential steps so you can successfully obtain lawful permanent residency for your husband, wife or partner.

LaToya McBean Pompy, immigrated to the United States herself. Her experience sparked an interest in helping many families be together in the U.S. by founding McBean Law. If you need help with your or a loved one’s visa, contact us here or call us today at (888)-462-4006 to schedule a private consultation with LaToya and her team of immigration attorneys who are here to help you.

Determine Your Eligibility

The first step is determining if you are eligible to petition for your spouse. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder and prove you have a genuine, legal marriage. Some other requirements include:

  • You and your spouse must have entered into a lawful marriage

  • You must prove your marriage is legitimate, not only to obtain immigration benefits

  • You are financially equipped to sponsor your spouse

Providing supporting documentation like wedding photos, joint bank accounts and utility bills can help prove a bona fide marriage to immigration officials.

Complete Required Paperwork

The next step is gathering and accurately completing all required paperwork. The main form is the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This establishes your relationship and starts the green card process.

Other common forms include:

  • I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence

  • I-765 Application for Employment Authorization

  • I-131 Application for Travel Document

Thoroughly completing these forms is vital. Any mistakes or missing information can significantly delay or jeopardize approval. Green card lawyers are professionals at making sure all paperwork is error-free and fully compliant with immigration laws.

Submit Your Petition Package

Once your paperwork is finished, you must mail the complete application package to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Be sure to include:

  • Completed I-130, I-485 and other forms

  • Financial documents verifying adequate income

  • Supporting documents proving a real marriage

  • Filing and biometrics fees

USCIS reviews petitions in the order received, so prompt submission is key. 

Attend Your Green Card Interview

You and your spouse may be called in for an in-person interview once your paperwork is processed. This interview is mandatory for the foreign spouse to get approval.

Some tips for being prepared include:

  • Bring originals and certified copies of all documents submitted

  • Be prepared to answer detailed questions about your relationship

  • Highlight evidence that proves your marriage legitimacy

  • Bring a translator if your spouse needs one

The interview allows officials to verify details provided in paperwork. Failing to convince them could lead to a rejected green card petition.

Most recently, USCIS has been waiving interviews in marriage petition cases. However, your case must be properly prepared to ensure that your interview will be waived. 

Receive Your Conditional Green Card

If you've been married less tha two years at the time of approval, your spouse will receive a conditional two-year green card within a few weeks. This allows you to officially live together in the U.S. as a lawfully married couple.

You must then file a joint petition to remove the conditions 90 days before the green card expires. Once conditions are lifted, your spouse gets their 10-year permanent resident card.

If you've been married longer than two years at the time of approval, your spouse will receive a 10-year permanent resident card.

Avoid Common Mistakes

The green card process involves lots of paperwork and high stakes interviews. Some common mistakes that cause denials include:

  • Forgetting to include required documents

  • Providing conflicting information on different forms

  • Having insufficient evidence of a real marriage

  • Letting the conditional green card expire

Careless errors can sabotage your petition. Marriage visa attorneys know how to properly handle all the required steps and filings.

Why Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

Obtaining a green card for a foreign spouse is very complex. There are lots of intricacies when it comes to eligibility rules, documentation and timelines. Without legal guidance, many complications can arise:

Immigration Law Success and Experience

Immigration policies frequently change. Green card visa lawyers stay up-to-date on the latest laws and requirements. They know how to navigate the system to successfully get approval.

Correct Paperwork

Providing proper and accurate paperwork is crucial. Lawyers ensure all your forms are error-free and contain the right supporting evidence.

Prove Marriage Legitimacy

Lawyers understand what documents convincingly prove a real marriage versus one for immigration benefits. They make sure you have what you need.

Avoid Delays

Mistakes and incorrect filings cause delays. Lawyers get your paperwork right the first time to expedite processing.

Peace of Mind

The help of one of the top immigration lawyer takes the stress out of obtaining a green card. You can have confidence knowing your case is in good hands.

Step-by-Step Overview of the Spousal Green Card Process

Below is a step-by-step overview of navigating the spousal green card process with legal help:

1. Consult with a Green Card Visa Lawyer

Meet with a marriage visa attorney for a consultation. They will review your situation and provide needed guidance on successfully getting approval.

2. Prove Eligibility

The lawyer gathers and submits documentation that proves eligibility requirements are met. This includes evidence of a bona fide marriage.

3. Complete Paperwork

Your lawyer meticulously prepares and reviews all your paperwork and forms. This ensures everything is error-free before submission.

4. File Petition Package

The lawyer files your complete green card petition package with USCIS on your behalf. They know proper filing protocol to expedite processing.

5. Interview Preparation

Your lawyer helps you prepare and practice for the immigration interview. They provide advice on convincing officials your marriage is real.

6. Attend Interview

Your lawyer can attend the visa interview with you and your spouse for legal counsel and support. Their experience significantly boosts approval odds.

7. Get a Conditional Green Card

Once approved, your spouse will receive their two-year conditional green card in a few weeks thanks to your lawyer's help.

8. Remove Conditions

As the expiration approaches, your lawyer handles submitting the paperwork and evidence to remove conditions and obtain the 10-year green card.

5 FAQs About Getting a Green Card for a Spouse

Obtaining permanent residency for your husband or wife often raises many questions. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

  1. Can my spouse work in the U.S. while their green card is processing?
    Yes, filing Form I-765 allows your spouse to legally work while awaiting approval. Processing takes 3-6 months.

  2. Does my income meet financial requirements?
    You must show income 125% above the U.S. poverty level. Assets can supplement income if below the threshold.

  3. Can my spouse travel internationally after getting their green card?
    Yes, filing Form I-131 allows your spouse to travel abroad and legally return. Some restrictions apply.

  4. What happens if my green card expires before conditions are removed?
    You must work with a lawyer to file the proper forms to get back into lawful status. Otherwise, the government can place you into removal proceedings.

  5. Can I file the green card petition myself without legal help?
    Yes, but immigration laws are complex. Many applicants get denied without experienced legal guidance.

Don't Delay - Get Green Card Help Today

LaToya McBean Pompy, immigrated to the United States herself. Her experience sparked an interest in helping many families be together in the U.S. by founding McBean Law. If you need help with your or a loved one’s visa, contact us here or call us today at (888)-462-4006 to schedule a private consultation with LaToya and her team of immigration attorneys who are here to help you.

About the Author


McBean Law, PLLC is a New York, Westchester-based immigration law firm that represents clients in the United States and across the globe.

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