Green Card by Marriage —
The first step in getting a green card by marriage for your spouse is for you, the sponsor, to petition for a visa number for the spouse. For this step, there are two forms you will need to know about.
The Sponsor Petition
The petition by the sponsor (the legally residing spouse inside the US) is the first critical piece of information that must be submitted to the USCIS. For a green card through marriage, the right form to use for this petition is Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once this petition is approved, your spouse can then file for a green card and complete consular processing or the Adjustment of Status process (if already in the US).
Who Can Be a Sponsor?
Before filing, you need to determine whether or not you are eligible to sponsor your spouse for a US green card. Very simply, if you are a US citizen, or if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (in other words, if you are an immigrant with a green card), you can sponsor your spouse for a green card. A US citizen — either born or naturalized — also has the option to petition for fiancée and K level visas, but lawful permanent residents do not.
Requirements of the Sponsor
A sponsor is required to take financial responsibility for the subject(s) of their marriage-based green card petition, and to support them once in the US. The USCIS requires that the sponsor prove his/her ability to provide financial support to the entering spouse. He/She must show that he can support the spouse with a minimum income that is at or above 125% of the federal poverty level. As proof, an Affidavit of Support must be filed with Form I-130. The form for the Affidavit of Support is Form I-864.
This completes the preliminary requirements of the petitioning sponsor for a green card by marriage. The next step will be awaiting CIS approval of the petition and application for a visa by the spouse. As sponsor and spouse, you will also be involved in the application and marriage interview process. The petition is the first formal action you need to take to bring your spouse one step closer to you.
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