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A green card is often synonymous with permanent residency in the United States, but misconceptions about the eligibility requirements for obtaining one can create confusion. There are a number of misconceptions circulating about what seeking legal status through marriage means or requires. The following examples are common misconceptions about marriage green cards or the green card process.
Probably the most common misconception about marriage green cards is that most undocumented people cannot file for one because they cannot legally get married in the U.S. This is false. Anyone can get married or divorced in the U.S. regardless of their immigration status since the laws that control family law are controlled by the state, not the federal government. Most states allow for universal access to the court system and for people to use the laws equally.
A second common misconception about the process is that marriage green card applicants must wait for 2 years before applying for a green card. This is also not true. As long as an immigrant can show that they are in a legitimate “real relationship” with their green card sponsor, they can file for a green card IMMEDIATELY after the marriage. What is required is for the immigrant sponsor and beneficiary to be able to work together to provide evidence that will convince the government that the relationship is “bona fide.” Examples of useful proof would be documents showing trips taken together, shared family events, shared accounts, or the joining of your finances. Another highly valuable proof would be common children born in the relationship.
A third myth about the marriage green card process is that you cannot remove your Conditional Residency if you are no longer married to your sponsor. It is not surprising that people believe this and give up on their green card since immigration is so strict about sponsorships and maintaining the legal relationship to be eligible. There are exceptions to this general rule in immigration that can be used in the conditional residency process to help people remove their conditions to obtain their 10-year green cards. An example is when a divorce is needed due to abuse in the relationship. To succeed, the immigrant must provide information to convince the government that the marriage was sincere when it began and was not entered into to get a green card.
Another common misconception is that marriage green card holders must wait 5 years before obtaining citizenship. While this is true for general green card holders, there is a special exception for those married to U.S. citizens. This fortunate group of people is permitted to apply for naturalization immediately following their third anniversary of obtaining their green card. It is critically important for these individuals to know that they must prove to the government that they have maintained their marital status all the way through the naturalization process. If the marital relationship ends for any reason before the immigrant obtains their citizenship, they will not be able to use the three-year rule and will have to wait until the fifth anniversary to be able to qualify for citizenship.
Not surprising, there are many more myths and misconceptions about the immigration process due to the complexity of this area of law. This is why we encourage any potential applicant to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before taking any steps. Please schedule an appointment with our office to discuss your immigration path so we can help you take the correct steps. You can do this by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/