Green cards through marriage are sometimes referred to as the “fast track” to lawful permanent residency. The foreign-born spouse of a U.S. citizen is considered an “immediate relative” under the law and is therefore not subject to quota restrictions that apply to other immigrant categories. The U.S. citizen begins the process by petitioning on behalf of their foreign-born spouse. If the spouse entered the U.S. lawfully, he/she can file for adjustment of status without having to leave the U.S.

Generally, the spouse receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) within 90 days, and may also be eligible for an Advance Parole document to travel abroad. If the foreign-born spouse entered the U.S. without inspection, he/she may have to apply for a green card through marriage in his home country. He may, however, be eligible to apply for a provisional waiver in the United States.

To obtain a green card through marriage, your marriage must be bona fide. The USCIS will require documentation demonstrating the validity of the marriage and will conduct an in-person interview with both spouses. If the marriage is less than two years old when the green card is granted, the immigrant spouse will be granted conditional residency for a period of two years. The conditional resident must then apply to remove the conditions on status by the conclusion of their two year period. Failure to do so may result in the immigrants’ deportability. If the couple divorces before the end of the two-year period, the foreign-born spouse may apply for a “good faith marriage waiver” of the joint petition requirement.