The Rights and Limitations of
Immigration Marriages

Immigration marriages do come with rights to residency in the United States; however, they also come with some limitations, and you should know about these as you and your spouse apply for a green card based on marriage for lawful permanent residence in the US.

The Right to Immigrate

US citizens and lawful US residents (people who have a green card for permanent residence in the US) have the right to petition for their spouse (and minor children) to come to the US as quickly as possible. Under these rights, family-based petitions based on marriage are entitled to secure a priority date for a visa.

What this means practically is that there is no waiting in line for a visa for spouses and qualifying children. This is possible because the CIS does not limit the number of visas based on marriage, and so there is no need to wait until a number becomes available.

This means, based on the petition alone, that a spouse of a lawful resident or US citizen will immediately be granted a current visa number as soon as the USCIS receives your petition and he/she can then begin the application process for a visa.

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Limitations of Immigrating Based on Marriage

The right to a visa number and priority filing is not a guarantee of permanent residence. Like all other petitioners, persons applying for residence through marriage must complete the visa application process and the marriage immigration interview to prove the validity of the marriage.

Just as with other visa petitioners, marriage-based immigration applicants cannot obtain a visa if they are excluded due to criminal activity, involvement in terrorism, or other exclusionary factors.

Rights and Responsibilities

Immigration marriages grant priority, but not automatic lawful residence. Still, as you apply, you should research your rights and responsibilities, so that you are clear on what is and is not possible within the confines of the process and the law.

The resources here are comprehensive, but should you require more help you can seek the advice of an immigration expert or representative, or an attorney specializing in immigration and applicant rights.

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