Family Based Adjustment of Status Based on Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

The U.S. immigration process allows individuals to obtain permanent resident status through a procedure referred to as adjustment of status. Adjustment of status can be based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen. A foreign national physically present in the United States after being inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled into the United States and married to a U.S. citizen can apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident. If all requirements are met, the family petition and green card application can be filed concurrently. That is, a family petition is filed by the U.S. citizen spouse on behalf of the spouse intending to obtain permanent residency (beneficiary) at the same time that an application to obtain immigrant status (Green Card) is filed. While the case is pending with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the beneficiary does not have to depart the U.S.  However, if the beneficiary is eligible and wants to leave the U.S. while the case is pending, an advance parole document must be approved prior to the departure so that the person can return from abroad after travel to continue the adjustment of status process.  Also, the beneficiary can apply for a temporary employment authorization document commonly referred to as a work permit. This permit is valid while the adjustment of status process is pending and can be renewed if necessary. Here at Serrano Law Firm we specialize in family immigration cases.

There are several key factors that USCIS will consider in reviewing a case for adjustment of status based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. First, the marriage must be real. USCIS will conduct a thorough review and interview both parties to determine if the marriage is bona fide and not entered into to circumvent the immigration laws. The marriage must not have been entered into solely for purposes of obtaining an immigration benefit. To establish a bona fide marriage, the U.S. citizen spouse and beneficiary must show that the couple engages in activities and norms customary of a real marriage. For example, the couple can demonstrate this by providing proof of joint assets and liabilities such as joint tax returns, bank accounts, credit cards, joint properties, lease agreements, joint businesses, joint bills, utilities, insurance and joint parentage. Another factor USCIS will consider is if the beneficiary is admissible. An applicant for permanent resident status can be inadmissible for so many reasons including criminal history, medical issues, previous immigration violations, committing fraud, or being a public charge. Inadmissibility can be a very complex area of the law and an experienced immigration attorney should be consulted to review the prior to filing. 

Permanent Residence Based on Marriage to a Permanent Resident

The immigration process also allows U.S. permanent residents to file a family petition on behalf of a foreign national spouse. However, a key distinction from marriage to a U.S. citizen, a beneficiary of a petition filed by a permanent resident must wait for a visa number to be available according to the numerical visa limit. Each year a designated number of visas are allocated for different family petition categories. Because of the limited number of visas and the high number of petitions the wait time can be lengthy. All the while, the beneficiary must remain outside of the U.S. until granted an immigrant visa or if the U.S., the person must maintain a lawful non-immigrant status unless an exception applies. 

If you are married to a U.S. citizen or planning to get married to a U.S. citizen and seeking to obtain permanent resident status, let us thoroughly analyze your case and answer any questions or concerns. Undoubtedly, this process is complex and now more than ever, any little error can lead to an unpleasant result or even additional immigration consequences. With hundreds of cases in experience, we are the right attorneys you deserve to have on your side. Call the Serrano Law Firm for your consultation today.