Green Card by Marriage or as a Family Member of an American Citizen

Marriage to a U.S. Citizen qualifies one for a green card.
The INS take a very serious look at the validity of the marriage and that it was not simply for immigration purposes.

Certain family relationships may qualify an individual for a U.S. green card.
They are often subject to long waiting periods due to annual quotas.
All immigrant visas are subject to a complicated quota system. Generally each country receives a maximum of 25,620 visas per year. The applicant will be subject to the country limit of his or her country of birth. A visa must be available in order to apply for adjustment.
There is a visa for fiancees of U.S. citizens.

Order of Preference for Family and Marriage Green Cards

First Preference: Unmarried children of U.S. citizens.
Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried children of U.S. Permanent Residents. (unmarried children under 21 have priority over unmarried & over 21)
Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens.
Fourth Preference: Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens.
Immediate Relatives: Parents & Spouses of U.S. citizens.

How to get a Fiance Visa (K-1) and Green Card by Marriage

Marriage to a United States citizen qualifies one for a green card.
If the marriage occurs abroad, the green card petition must be filed through a U.S. Consulate with jurisdiction over the applicants place of residence. The procedures usually take between six to nine months to complete. Many newly weds, for a variety of reasons, don’t relish the idea of six months of separation, or six months of waiting, before they can enter the U.S. as a married couple

Those who apply abroad must wait out side of the US during the entire processing period.
As a result, many newly weds prefer to undertake the entire green card application process in the U.S., so that they can live together and work while they patiently wait for the bureaucracy to grind out the green card approval notice.

The K-1 visa permits a fiance to enter the U.S. as long as the marriage takes place with in 90 days of entry. Immediately after the marriage, the couple may file the green card petition, form I-130 and the adjustment of status petition I-485 with INS.

Understanding the processing of a Green Card

The process for issuing permanent visas is as follows:

1. Filing petitions for approval in your preference category. Response from INS in approximately 90-120 days.
2. Assuming approval, when the visa becomes available, if in the United States, apply to INS for adjustment of status to permanent residence or apply for interview at the Consul Post nearest your foreign residence. Allow 8-10 months for the entire process.
3. A green card follows approximately six months.

Note: While in the United States, the alien must remain in legal immigration status, while waiting for the visa to become available. Unauthorized employment or staying in the US with an expired visa, bars adjustment of status to permanent residence in the US.