What is a Green Card?

A green card is a permanent residence card that allows a foreign national to live and work it the United States. Green cards are issued to people who have been approved for lawful permanent residence, also known as adjustment of status.

A spouse of a US citizen can apply for an adjustment of status (green card) based on their marriage if they are currently inside the United States and meets other legal requirements. This means that instead of having to leave the country and apply at an embassy or consulate outside the United States, you can apply directly from within this country where you currently reside.

Green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen

Legal requirements for a Form I-130 petition

Legal requirements for a Form I-130 petition

To file a Form I-130 petition for  a spouse of a U.S. citizen, the petitioner must:

  • Present proof of their US citizenship;
  • Be free to marry at the time they file the petition. This means that previous marriages must be terminated first through divorce or death;
  • Satisfy the burden of proof that the marriage is bona fide (real).

How to prove your marriage is real

You’ll need to prove that your marriage is real and not a sham. In other words, you can’t just get married simply to get an immigration benefit–that would be a fraud.  There are serious consequences to committing immigration fraud.  There are many ways to show your marriage is real; here are some examples:

  • Photographs of you together at various events, including ones where you’re both with family and friends (this proves that the two of you hold yourselves out as married). Letters from friends and family are also helpful;
  • Proof that both spouses live together (for example, copies of utility bills addressed jointly);
  • Proof that you share your household expenses;
  • Shared bank accounts;
  • Gifts are given to each other;
  • Proof of shared travel;
  • Other evidence as appropriate.

Evidence that your marriage is not a sham will help you avoid being accused of fraud. If you are applying for an immigration benefit based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, be sure to get legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney before submitting any application.

Legal requirements for Adjustment of Status

  • The applicant must have been inspected and admitted into the United States; or paroled into the United States.
  • The applicant must be physically present in the United States.
  • An immigrant visa must be immediately available when you file your adjustment of status application.

You must be able to show that you are admissible to the United States under all provisions of U.S. immigration law, especially those relating to inadmissibility grounds for adjustment of status such as unlawful presence or criminal offenses.

Prepare and finalize your case before filing your application.

The key to a successful green card application is to do it right the first time. Make sure you have all the documents and information you need before filing your application. This will help ensure that the USCIS does not reject your case because of missing or incorrect information, which can lead to delays in processing and additional costs for both you and your attorney.

  • Gather all required documents: You must collect evidence proving that a valid relationship exists between yourself and the U.S citizen who is petitioning for you (also known as “sponsor”).
  • Make sure that the petitioner is eligible to be your financial sponsor
  • If not, you will need a joint sponsor to file a Form I-864

It will be beneficial to work with an immigration attorney when applying for a green card as part of a marriage to an American citizen.

Immigration law is a complex area of law that can make the process of obtaining a visa, green card or citizenship very difficult for those who are not familiar with the process. Immigration law can affect so many aspects of your life including your work status, family relationships and even your ability to travel outside of the United States.

When you are facing immigration issues, you need an attorney who understands how these laws work and knows how to handle your case in an efficient manner. The attorneys at IBP Immigration Law have years of experience helping clients navigate through the complex immigration system. We will ensure that your case is handled properly from start to finish, so you can focus on other aspects of your life without having to worry about your legal status in this country.

Contact us today if you need assistance with an immigration case!


In conclusion, it is important to note that there are some special circumstances when applying for a green card as part of a marriage to an American citizen.  Keep in mind that all applicants must meet certain legal requirements such as proving their marriage was real and valid at the time it took place. However if these steps are followed closely and you qualify, then there should be no problem obtaining legal status in the United States!

Attorney Ingrid Borges Perez speaks
English, Portuguese, and Spanish

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