To bring your spouse to live with you in the United States, you must either be a US citizen or permanent resident. A permanent resident is also called a green card holder or permanent resident card holder.

When your foreign spouse enters the US, they will also become a permanent resident for a certain number of years, typically ten. After these ten years, they can apply for naturalization and become a full-fledged citizen of the United States of America.

The US citizen or permanent resident will file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the foreign spouse. Additionally, if the foreign spouse is already resident in the US, they will file Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-130.

How soon you are able to file the immigrant visa petition depends on whether you are a US citizen or permanent resident. The visa is always available to US citizens, but permanent residents must wait until there’s a priority date to apply.

What Is the Required Documentation for the Marriage Green Card Application?

The marriage green card application process requires that you fill out and submit certain forms. When submitting these forms, the USCIS and NVC will request for documents to corroborate the information provided in the forms. Below is a list of the required documentation that the US petitioner must submit during the green card application process:

  • A copy of your marriage certificate as well as divorce decrees, annulment decrees, and death certificates where applicable.
  • Passport-style photos of you and your foreign spouse; it is important that the photo be exactly as required. Seemingly simple errors such as the photo not being passport-style can result in your application getting denied or rejected.
  • Evidence of legal name changes for you and your spouse where applicable; this may include court judgment or adoption decrees.
  • The US citizen must demonstrate their immigration status with a copy of their valid US passport. Otherwise, they can provide a copy of their US birth certificate or consular report of birth abroad. They may also provide a copy of their naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
  • The green card holder must demonstrate their immigration status with a copy of their green card (Form I-551), front and back. Otherwise, they can present their foreign passport stamped and showing temporary evidence of their permanent resident status.

Can You Live in the US While Your Visa Petition Is Pending?

The spouse of a US citizen is eligible to file for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa if their Form I-130 is pending. This nonimmigrant visa will give the foreign spouse the liberty to live and work in the US while the petition is pending.

To obtain this immigration benefit, the US sponsor will file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, although it’s not a requirement. On the other hand, the spouse of the permanent resident cannot file this, but they can apply for a tourist visa.

The Significant Difference between a US Citizen’s and a Permanent Resident’s Spouse

There is a significant and time-relevant difference between marrying a US citizen and marrying a green card holder or permanent resident. For one, a US citizen’s spouse is considered an immediate relative and can apply for LPR status immediately.

The US citizen will file an immigrant petition, Form I-130, on behalf of their foreign national spouse immediately after marriage. For work and travel permissions immediately after marriage, the foreign spouse may file Form I-485 for adjustment of status to LPR.

Contrarily, spouses of lawful permanent residents are classified as Family-Sponsored, Second Preference by the USCIS. The spouse of an LPR can also file Form I-130 immediately after the wedding, but they have to wait a while.

Such needs to wait for a visa number to become available to be eligible for an immigrant visa or adjustment o status. This wait can range from months to years, and they have no temporary or interim right to live or work in the US.

Rather, the foreign national spouse of the permanent resident must wait outside the US. Otherwise, they can hold their independent temporary status while living in the US and waiting.

How Herman Legal Group Can Help

US immigration rules and regulations are constantly changing, which can make applying for a marriage-based green card frustrating. Herman Legal Group has a diversified, multilingual, and multicultural legal team committed to providing the best legal assistance in immigration matters.

Our job is to get the odds of this immigration process in your favor and make it less exhausting for you. With the help of one of our experienced immigration lawyers, you can easily overcome hurdles you may encounter during the process.

We serve a wide range of clients in Phoenix, across the US, and globally. Thus, do not hesitate to reach out to us at +1-216-696-6170 to book a consultation; you can also book online.


The US immigration system can get complicated for the inexperienced, especially considering how rapidly it changes. Hence, we strongly recommend you work with an immigration attorney who is familiar and experienced with the system. They can discuss the case with you in detail and also draw up a customized plan for your peculiar case.

At Herman Legal Group, Your Future Matters Most
Call now to request a consultation

24/7 Evening and Weekends for Virtual and In person.