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Can I become a U.S. citizen through marriage?

Photograph of a couple getting married.

You couldn’t be blamed for being skeptical about the possibility of becoming a U.S. citizen through marriage. It’s a common joke in popular media, and often portrayed as a kind of “backdoor” method to citizenship, but that is certainly not the case. The U.S has no wish to keep married couples separate simply because one of them wasn’t born here, although it’s not as simple as you may have been led to believe.

What is a marriage green card?

A marriage green card grants the lawful spouse of a U.S citizen the right to live and work anywhere in the United States and maintains a “permanent resident” status. It also allows the recipient to apply for U.S citizenship after only three years instead of the typical five years required for permanent residents.

Do I qualify for a marriage green card?

There are numerous requirements you must meet before your application for a marriage green card will be considered.

  1. You must be 18 years old before you submit your green card application.
  2. Be a lawful admitted permanent resident for at least three years before submitting your application.
  3. Maintain a lawful marital union with your partner for at least three years before submitting your application.
  4. Live for at least three months in a state or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services district with jurisdiction over your place of residence.
  5. Maintain a continuous residence for at least three years as a lawful permanent resident before you submit your application.
  6. Live continuously in the United States after you submit your application until it’s approved.
  7. Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months (548 days) of the required three years before you file your application.
  8. Read, write, and speak English and pass an assessment test on the fundamental history and civics of the United States.
  9. Be a person of good moral character and demonstrate an attachment and reverence for the principles of the Consitution (essentially, commit serious no crimes) for three years before submitting your application.

What does “continuous residence” mean?

Continuous residence means that you’ve lived in the United States as if it was your home for three years before submitting your application. That includes, but is not limited to:

  • Maintaining a permanent home in the U.S.
  • Be employed or attend school in the U.S.
  • File tax returns in the U.S.
  • Participate in the community and develop and maintain ties within the community

I qualify for a marriage green card, how do I get started?

You will need to complete and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization and pay the submission fee of $725. You’ll also need to provide the following documents.

  • Proof of spouses’ U.S. citizenship
  • Proof of marriage
  • Proof the prior marriages have been terminated (if applicable)
  • Proof of marital union, such as bank statements, mortgage payments, or joint tax returns

If you’re applying for a marriage green card, having a legal expert can greatly increase your chances of a successful process. With offices in Baltimore, Columbia, Towson, Northern Virginia, Westminster, and Dundalk, we’re here to help you with any questions you may have. Contact us, or call our experts at Albers & Associates at (443) 543-8517 to learn how we can aid you.

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