When considering immigration issues, how do marriage and green cards work? A green card, also called a permanent residency card, is one of the most desired visa statuses among immigrants. It provides the ability to stay in the United States for an extended period of time. Many people wonder whether marriage to a U.S. citizen automatically leads to a green card for foreign nationals. Marriage is certainly helpful in obtaining a green card, but it doesn’t automatically provide for the spouse to gain permanent residency status. The spouse must meet the eligibility requirements and go through the process necessary.

USCIS Green Card Process

The USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, provides a method of obtaining a permanent residency card for those who are married. The spouse does not get a green card simply by having a U.S. citizen husband or wife. The process begins with the application. However, there are specific items that must be provided as proof that the couple legitimately married; anyone who is found to have married just to obtain a green card is not permitted to obtain one.

The Spouse Visa

Immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply for a green card. The spouse of a U.S. citizen applies for an IR-1 visa. Additionally, there are a limited number of family visas issued each year. The F2, family second preference, is a visa specifically for a spouse of a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Those seeking a green card as a spouse must submit the proper form and documentation as required by the USCIS. The process can be lengthy and may be somewhat complex, so the help of a knowledgeable immigration lawyer can be essential to completing the procedure properly.

Filing for Green Card

The sponsoring spouse is responsible for filing Form I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security. The spouse must have a permanent United States residence. Once the petition is approved, the National Visa Center takes over and assigns a case number. If a family preference visa is requested, a priority date will be determined. Along with the application, there are a number of documents that must also be submitted. These include such things as the passport, affidavit of support, medical exam form, civil documents, and two passport photos.


If all documentation is approved, an interview will be scheduled. During the interview process, the couple must provide documentation that proves they are legally married and that the marriage is legitimate. Documents may include the marriage certificate, proof of living together, photos of the couple together, and other evidence. The interview is the final step in the process of achieving a green card for a spouse. However, not all people are successful in the interview. You must be properly prepared in order to be sure of success. A qualified immigration lawyer will guide you through the procedure and ensure that you obtain the green card you desire.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Marriage and Green Cards, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at  480.461.5330, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.