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Green cards for the spouses of U.S. citizens

When South Carolina residents who are U.S. citizens decide to marry foreign nationals, they often wonder what is involved in securing approval from the immigration authorities. Spouses of American citizens qualify for permanent resident green cards, but the program has been widely abused in the past. This means that applications for the permanent residence of a spouse are closely scrutinized, and applicants should expect questions to be asked about the nature of their relationship.

Once the marriage has taken place, both the American and foreign spouses should file immigration paperwork. The U.S. citizen should file Form I-130, which petitions on behalf of foreign relatives, and the foreign spouse should file Form I-485, which is the application for a green card. Foreign spouses of American citizens qualify for permanent resident status, so the approval process is relatively fast. Forms G-325A and I-864 should also be filed and sent along with the foreign spouse's birth certificate and photographs. Form G-325A provides the authorities with biographic information, and Form I-864 is an affidavit of support.

Foreign spouses of American citizens must show that they entered the United States legally, and they will be called in to an immigration office for to have their photograph and fingerprints taken. After a background check has been completed, an adjustment of status interview will be scheduled to verify that the marriage is genuine.

Experienced immigration attorneys may be able to assist those preparing for this interview by explaining the kind of questions that are likely to be asked and the supporting documentation that will be expected. In addition to documents like joint account statements and correspondence addressed to both spouses, immigration officials may wish to see photographs of the couple taken over the course of their relationship and at their wedding.

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