GETTING A GREEN CARD THROUGH MARRIAGE
The fastest way to get a green card is though marriage to an American citizen. It is also possible even if the person is not in valid non-immigrant status. For example, if you come to the United States on a tourist visa you not only can get a green card if your spouse applies for you while you are in valid status, but it is also possible if your tourist visa has expired before you marry. It is possible, for example, to have arrived in the United States but have come to be out of status. Not only a few days out of status, but even being several years out of status will not prevent you from obtaining a green card through marriage to an American citizen.
Please be aware of one danger if you arrive on a tourist visa. Do not marry too quickly. If you marry within 30 days of arrival the Immigration Department will presume that it was not your intent to be a valid tourist, but to use that status with the real purpose of marrying and applying for a green card. I advise my clients who are considering marriage to wait at least 45 days after their arrival before they marry.
One question which I am occasionally asked is “Should I get married just to get a green card?” The answer is ALWAYS “NO.” If USCIS determines that your marriage is a fake marriage, this will permanently prevent you from ever getting a green card in the USA, even if your next marriage is a real marriage. Be certain to reject any immigration “advisor” (a non-lawyer) who advises you they can help you get a green card in this way. They cannot. They just want your money.
If you have minor children (under the age of 18) in Indonesia from a first marriage, your new American citizen husband or wife can petition for your minor children (his or her minor step-children) for a green card.
The entire process from the time you and your spouse apply for a green card until the time you are interviewed will usually take between 6 and 8 months. The interview will attempt to determine if you are living together as husband and wife. If the interviewer has suspicion that you may not really be in a valid marriage, a second interview can be scheduled which will examine you marriage far more closely.
The best advice is to really be in love.
ALLAN A. SAMSON
LAW OFFICE OF ALLAN A. SAMSON
1 Sutter St., Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94104