Marriage green card refers to the legal document or card given to spouses of US citizens or lawful permanent residents. On the other hand, permanent residence is an immigration status that grants a foreign national to live and work in the US. Furthermore, a permanent resident status holder can choose to naturalize their residence and become a US citizen once eligible. A marriage green card is one of the fastest ways to acquire permanent residence in the United States.

However, being married to a US citizen or LPR does not automatically confer any immigration status to the foreign spouse. There are forms to be filled out, requirements to take note of, and possibly an interview to attend before that happens. There are two common ways foreign nationals can obtain permanent residence: through adjustment of status or consular processing.

Adjustment of Status

Obtaining a marriage green card through adjustment of status is only available to a certain set of individuals. These are those who are already living in the United States; they don’t have to leave to their home country to apply. Marriage green card through adjustment of status refers to the process of applying for permanent residence while in the US. However, only those with an immigrant visa are immediately available, and this depends on the citizen spouse’s status.

For the spouse of a US citizen, an immediate immigrant visa is always available because they belong to the immediate relative category. The spouse of the permanent resident status holder needs a few months (sometimes years) for this. Meanwhile, to be able to adjust their immigration status, the applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be lawfully married to a U.S. citizen petitioner – the country of the foreign national spouse does not matter.
  • Have an immigrant visa immediately available – which is always available to spouses of US citizens.
  • The foreign national spouse must have lawfully entered the country – that is, they were processed and allowed entry by an immigration officer.
  • The marriage must be bona fide – that is, not entered into so that the foreign national spouse (also called alien spouse) can access immigration benefits.
  • Both spouses must not have an ongoing marriage with someone else, with documents (like a divorce decree) to prove this.

Consular Processing

The other set of marriage green card applicants will apply for green card marriage through consular processing. This set of people is resident outside the United States and will go to the US embassy or consulate in their home country. The US citizen or permanent resident spouse files a petition with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services, USCIS. The forms to be filled include Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and (or) I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary.

Applicants will be required to submit some supporting documents along with the form, as will applicants for adjustment of status. After Form I-130 is approved, the USCIS will forward it to the NVC (National Visa Center). If there is an immigrant visa on ground, the NVC will schedule the consular process immediately. If the alien spouse is married to a US citizen, there’s always an immigrant visa available; LPRs’ spouses may have to wait several months.

Once the consular processing is completed, the USCIS will schedule a consular interview for both spouses. However, before this interview can happen, the NVC will request that the foreign spouse submit Form DS-360 and several supporting documents. One of those supporting documents is the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864. Also, the applicant will be required to pay some processing fees for the visa application and affidavit of support.

Reach Out to Herman Legal Group

Whether you are applying through adjustment of status or consular processing, the marriage green card application process can be tough. Herman Legal Group is a specialist in marriage green card applications, with offices in different places across the country, including Charlotte.

We have a team of expert immigration attorneys in Charlotte, with a good understanding of the stringent USCIS criteria. Thus, we help applicants through the process, ensuring no stone is left unturned and there is no room for error.

While we are majorly based in Ohio, we have offices tending to different parts of the country. If you’re in Charlotte and need an experienced immigration lawyer, you can book online or reach out to us at +1-216-696-617.


Not every foreign spouse has the option to choose between these two marriage green card application methods. Nevertheless, some US citizen spouses present in the country have this choice, and they choose adjustment of status in most cases. This is because then they don’t have to leave the country while awaiting their marriage green card.

Contrarily, consular processing is often quicker than adjustment of status, but the couple is usually separated. If you have a choice between consular processing and adjustment of status, understand that both processes have their unique advantages and disadvantages. For instance, consular processing is faster and cheaper; meanwhile, adjustment of status lets you stay in the country while awaiting the green card.

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