What Is a Marriage Green Card?

In this article, we’ll look through the application process for a Marriage Green Card and the required documents - Form I-130, Form I-485, Form DS-260, etc. Also, it explains what are the conditional Green Card (CR1) and the immediate relative Green Card (IR1). This article will also help you to understand various Marriage Green Card related questions such as what is the adjustment of status through marriage, how to remove conditional Green Cards, who gets conditional Green Cards, etc.


I. What Is a Marriage Green Card?

A nonimmigrant becomes eligible for a Marriage Green Card when they marry a U.S. citizen or another Green Card holder. When the nonimmigrant receives their Marriage Green Card, it will allow them to get permanent resident status allowing them to reside and work within the United States.


II. What Is the Marriage Green Card Process?

The first step in beginning your Marriage Green Card is to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and provide the required documentation to support the legitimacy of the marriage between you and the sponsor spouse. Although there are slight differences in the process depending on whether the sponsor spouse is a U.S. citizen or a Green Card holder, in general, the steps are quite similar.

After the sponsor spouse files Form I-130, the Marriage Green Card applicant will file either Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) or Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) depending on where the Marriage Green Card applicant is residing. Once the necessary documents are submitted, then it’s time to prepare for your Green Card interview.

  • Form I-485: the application for adjustment of status when the Marriage Green Card applicant is living in the U.S.
  • Form DS-260: the application for consular processing when the Marriage Green Card applicant is living outside the U.S.

Finally, the Marriage Green Card applicant must attend the Green Card interview. After this interview, the Marriage Green Card applicant will either be eligible for a Conditional Residence Green Card (CR1, conditional Green Card), or an Immediate Relative Green Card (IR1) depending on whether the marriage has been less or more than two years.

  • CR1: a conditional Green Card which is a temporary, 2-year Green Card issued to recently-married immigrants
  • IR1: a type of immigrant visa issued to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens. The IR1 visa is valid for 10 years

III. What If I Am an Applicant Living in the United States?

After receiving approval of Form I-130, then the Marriage Green Card applicant will be eligible to file for Form I-485. This is only eligible for Marriage Green Card applicants who reside within the United States. By submitting Form I-485, the Marriage Green Card applicant can apply for adjustment of status in the U.S.

Furthermore, if the Marriage Green Card applicant is married to a U.S. citizen, Form I-485 may be filed along with Form I-130 for concurrent filing to request the adjustment of status. However, if the Marriage Green Card applicant is married to a U.S. Green Card holder, they will have to wait until the Green Card availability is determined by the U.S. Department of State.


IV. What If I Am an Applicant Living outside of the United States?

After receiving approval of Form I-130, then the Marriage Green Card applicant will be eligible to file for Form DS-260. Unlike Form I-485, the Marriage Green Card applicant will file Form DS-260 using consular processing with the National Visa Center (NVC) to determine eligibility for an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate office. Documents in support of Form DS-260 will all have to be provided for this process for a successful application process. The applicants outside of the U.S. are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status.


V. What Determines whether I Receive a CR1 or IR1?

When the Marriage Green Card applicant spouse and his or her sponsor spouse have been married for less than two (2) years, the applicant spouse will receive a CR1, the conditional Green Card. These CR1 Green Cards are valid only for two (2) years, and require a filing of Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) during the 90 days before expiration of the conditional Green Card. This will allow the conditions to be removed and allow the applicant to receive a permanent Green Card.

When the Marriage Green Card applicant spouse and his or her sponsor spouse have been married for more than two (2) years, the applicant spouse will receive an IR1, immediate relative Green Card. This is a permanent Green Card which will have a validity period of ten (10) years. Typically, six (6) months before the expiration of the IR1 Green Card, the IR1 Green Card holder is encouraged to renew this IR1 Green Card through a relatively simple process with yet another filing. However, this renewal process is fairly straightforward and does not require documents and proof of re-stablishing the bona fide marital relationship.