#FactFriday: Marrying a US Citizen Does NOT Guarantee a Green Card

This week’s #MythMonday asked:

Myth or Fact? Marry a United States Citizen can definitely get me a green card.

The short answer: NO, not always.

Why It’s a Myth?

As always the legal answer is that it depends on the your specific situation. Most people do not understand the process for obtaining permanent residence (green card).  This lack of understanding is the source of the confusion. So, in order to explain this properly, we need to take a look at the larger process of family based immigration.

You have to pass two “tests” to get a green card. It’s not a test like you would take in school or for Naturalization. No these “tests” are testing your “relationship” and your “worthiness.”

The Relationship Test

All family based migrants to the United States MUST have some relationship that entitles the foreign national to APPLY for a green card. This test is initiated by your USC loved one filing a petition. You must prove during this “test” that your relationship is legally valid and legitimate. Once the validity of the relationship is proven and that relationship is one that the United States recognizes as in family-based cases, you are then eligible to APPLY for a green card.

Notice I keep saying APPLY for a green card. This is because passing the “relationship test” (getting your petition approved) – in the case of this myth, marriage to a USC – only allows you to move on the next test: the “worthiness test.”

The Worthiness Test

The “worthiness test” is initiated by submitting your application for a green card, either by filing a DS-260 (if you are not in the US currently) OR an I-485 (if you are currently in the US). This process determines if you are the type of person that the United States will allow to reside in the country.

In theory, applying for your green card determines if you are a healthy person of good moral character that will be able to financially support yourself in the United States. This process checks to see if you are a criminal, terrorist, have a communicable disease, have financial resources so that you will not become a public charge, among other things.

In short, your US Citizen spouse can ask for you to have an opportunity to apply for your green card. However, you must prove that you are the kind of person that the U.S. immigration system believes is worthy of residence in the United States.

We Can Help You!

At Lacroix Ramos, we ALWAYS tell the client the whole truth about their options for legalizing their status. We will not take money from a client that we know does not have a viable and genuine option for getting legal status. Even if that means we lose the sale and don’t get your money. If you need to know what options are available, call us at (914) 719-7570 and schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation with an attorney. You can also complete an intake form here, and we will call you to arrange a consultation. If we believe you have options, we will invite you to a full consultation where we can explain everything to you and your loved ones. If you do not have any viable options, we will tell you that also.