Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Green Card Through Marriage

Marriage to a U.S. Citizen does not guarantee that you’ll be granted lawful permanent residency via a green card or marriage visa. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carefully examines each marriage visa and Green Card application. Your application can be denied even if you are married.

These are the most common reasons why marriage visas and Green Card applications are denied by the United States.

Invalid Marriage

You must be legally wed to receive a valid visa for marriage. In the eyes of the law, a marriage is only valid if it takes place through a service or ceremony that has been recognized by the government. Each state has laws that determine if a marriage is valid. Florida Statutes section 741.07 outlines the requirements for who is allowed to perform a marriage ceremony. A valid marriage license must be obtained at least 3 days before the ceremony from your county clerk.

After the marriage ceremony, you must submit a Form I-130 along with proof of your valid wedding. This is the first petition to be submitted to begin the process of applying for a marriage visa. The best way to prove your marriage is by submitting a government-issued marriage certificate. USCIS will NOT accept church documents or unofficial certificates as proof of marriage. Your application may be denied if you submit an unofficial document with Form I-130.

If you have been married before, make sure to provide legal proof that the previous marriage has ended. This can be a death certificate or divorce decree. You must provide legal proof of the divorce or death certificate if you were married previously. Failure to provide this proof may result in a delay or denial of your application.

Ineligibility for a Marriage Visa

In certain situations, an individual may not be eligible to apply for a marriage visa. The reasons for ineligibility are many and may include a criminal history. Many types of criminal convictions can prevent someone from being approved for a marriage visa application. This can include crimes involving “moral turpitude,” crimes involving drugs, and multiple criminal convictions. Certain medical conditions may also make it impossible to obtain a Green Card. If the applicant is suffering from a communicable illness, a mental disorder, or has a history of substance abuse, they may not be eligible for a Green Card.

Dishonesty in Your Application

A dishonest application is almost certain to be rejected. Both spouses should be honest and thorough when filling out the paperwork. While applications ask for many details, such as all previous addresses and employers, it’s important to provide this information accurately. Your application could be rejected if USCIS discovers that you left out any information.

Errors in the Green Card Application

You should always check your application carefully before submitting it to ensure there are no errors or omissions. Simple mistakes in applications often lead to rejections. Among the most common mistakes are:

– Leaving information blank on the forms. Don’t leave any blanks or spaces in your application. Fill out all the forms, and if something doesn’t apply to you or your spouse, write “N/A.”

– Failing to provide translations. You may be required to submit documents that are not in English, such as birth certificates or marriage certificates. In such cases, provide an exact word-for-word translation of the document and include both the non-English and translated versions in your application. Ensure that your translation is certified, including the translator’s name, address, signature, and the date of completion.

– Photo mistakes. Green card or marriage visa applications require passport-like photographs. Review all government requirements before submitting photos, and consider using U.S. Post Offices for passport photos, which can also be used for marriage visa applications.

– Insufficient fees. You must pay the required fees along with your application for it to be processed. Filing fees range from $1,200 up to $1,760. Check the complete list of fees and make sure to submit the required amount to avoid delays or denials.

– Missing signatures. Both you and your spouse will need to sign the required documents with original signatures. Failure to sign or submitting a copy can result in a delay or denial of your application.

Ineligibility for Adjustment of Status

Most marriage visa applicants apply for their green cards without leaving the United States, a process known as “consular processing.” If the person’s last entry into the U.S. wasn’t legal, they may not be eligible for an adjustment status application through USCIS. Filing an application for adjustment of status when deportable may result in USCIS initiating deportation procedures, leading to a Notice to appear before an Immigration Judge at deportation hearings.

Not Submitting Sufficient Financial Support

You must submit an Affidavit Of Support (Form I-864) to prove your financial support when applying for a marriage visa. U.S. Immigration laws require this affidavit to prevent issuing an immigrant Visa to anyone who may become a “public liability” or who will be receiving need-based welfare or public assistance. The U.S. Citizen spouse submits this affidavit to confirm their ability to provide financial support to the immigrant for a specified number of years, preventing the immigrant from needing to apply for welfare.

Failure to submit this affidavit and provide the necessary financial resources may lead to the denial of your Marriage Visa application, even if you meet the Poverty Guidelines. Other factors may also indicate that the immigrant partner will need government assistance, causing delays or denials.

Adjusting Status After Using a Tourist Visa for U.S. Entry

In the past, submitting Form I-130 was required to apply for a Marriage Visa. After submitting the application, the immigrant must then contact an overseas U.S. Consulate for an interview. This process can be lengthy, and one spouse may live in the U.S. while the other remains in their country of origin.

Waiting can be challenging for both spouses. Some may choose to apply for an adjustment of status and try to enter on a tourist visa. This method can work for some, but not all. It requires the non-citizen spouse to prove that they haven’t abused the tourist visa or committed fraud. They must demonstrate a genuine intent to visit as a tourist and later marry their U.S. Citizen spouse.

An experienced immigration lawyer can assist with any questions you may have regarding the submission of your marriage visa application. They can also guide you through the process and the subsequent steps to take after submitting the form.

This post was written by Okoye Morgan Jr., a lawyer with extensive knowledge as a personal injury lawyer in Tampa, FL. Okoye is one of the founding partners of The Black Law Company, the best immigration lawyer in Tampa.

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