The General Process For Those Filing For US Citizenship
The general process of filing for US citizenship is broken down into two areas:
1.) People who are already here in the United States, whether lawfully or not.
2.) People that are petitioned for abroad.
If You Live Abroad And Want To Get Married…
If you are abroad and meet a US citizen who you want to marry in the United States, then the US citizen needs to petition for you through what’s called I129-F, or the fiancé visa petition.
You’ll Have A Burden Of Proof
Your burden of proof to establish is that you have the intent to marry in the United States within 90 days of your entry. We’ve all seen “90-day fiancé”… and the truth is, the show works this way because this is exactly what the law requires: for you to get married within 90 days of your admittance to the US.
To prove this, you only need to have met in person one time, but you still need to document a courtship. This documentation may include providing:
- Correspondence between the couple,
- Pictures from when you’re meeting,
- The story of “us,”
- “How you fell in love” statements from those you care about.
At this point, each person will go for an interview at the embassy, get their visa, and be admitted to the US. Then, you will have 90 days to get married.
Then You’ll File An Application To Adjust Your Status
Once you’re married, you then file the I-485, (the application to adjust status). This application will then lead to your conditional green card.
If You Are In The US…
- Individuals that entered the US lawfully can typically adjust their visa status even if they entered on a visa and have overstayed.
There are minimal exceptions to this, based on the kind of visa you are in the country on. However, if you meet a US citizen and marry them, you can typically adjust your status and get a conditional green card notwithstanding the overstay of that visa.
- Individuals that entered the US unlawfully must file an I-130 marriage petition after getting married. Upon approval, they would need to petition for an unlawful presence waiver to excuse the illegal entry and unlawful presence accrue.
Once granted, you then depart from the US and complete counselor processing at the US Embassy in your home country. Finally, you complete a lawful entry with the marriage-based visa petitioned for you with the I-130.
After you lawfully reenter the US with the I-130 visa, you can get a conditional green card through your US citizen spouse and then begin to navigate from there.
Once You’ve Obtained A Conditional Green Card, You’ll Seek Unconditional Status
In cases where the marriage between a conditional resident and the spouse who originally petitioned for them is still legally intact, the couple will jointly file the I-751 petition to remove the conditions on the non-citizen resident. In this situation, the I-751 is signed by both spouses and is considered a joint petition.
The reason a joint I-751 is beneficial is because the burden will be on USCIS to prove that the marriage is not bona fide – not the couple. However, this is only true so long as the filing of the joint petition is timely and both spouses appear at an interview if one is scheduled.
The fact that the USCIS has the burden of proof is important because, in the waiver context, the burden of proof is on the immigrant. In the joint filing context, however, the burden of proof is on the government to show that the marriage was not entered into in good faith or is otherwise not bona fide. This responsibility remains with USCIS even if the marriage is not viable at the time of filing – and even if the marriage ends after the petition is filed.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Immigration Cases In Virginia, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.
For more information on the General Process Of Filing For US Citizenship, an initial consultation is your next best step. Then, get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (703) 775 1438.