Navigating the complex landscape of immigration laws is challenging, especially when love is involved. The F-1 student visa is a common pathway for international students in the U.S. But what happens when an F-1 visa holder marries a U.S. citizen? This comprehensive guide explores the options and necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition.
Option 1: Adjustment of Status
The most common option for F-1 students who marry US citizens is to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident. This is accomplished by a process known as “adjustment of status” which allows you to remain in the United States while you await the approval of your green card.
In order to file an application for adjustment of status, your US citizen spouse will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS. Additionally, you will also be required to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is the actual green card application form. If you want a EAD and/or also have plans to travel internationally while your application for adjustment of status is pending, you are eligible to file Form I-765 to obtain work authorization and Form I-131 to obtain travel document.
Once you have filed these forms, you will be scheduled for an interview at the local USCIS office. During the interview, you will need to prove that your marriage is bona fide (real) and that you meet all other eligibility requirements for a green card.
If your application is approved, you will be granted conditional permanent residence which will result in issuance of a green card for two years. In order to obtain a permanent green card, you will need to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence 90-day before your green card expires, to remove the conditions on your green.
Option 2: Leave the US and Apply for a Green Card from Abroad
Another option for F-1 students who marry US citizens is to depart the United States and apply for a green card from abroad a process commonly referred to as “consular processing”.
To consular process your green card, your U.S. citizen spouse will need to file Form I-130 with USCIS. Once the Form I-130 is approved, the USCIS will forward the approval notice to the National Visa Center (NVC) and after paying the NVC fee you will be required to complete and submit Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. This is the actual green card application form.
Upon approval of Form DS-260, the NVC will forward the approval as well as other civil documents to the US embassy or consulate and thereafter you will be scheduled for an in-person interview at a US embassy or consulate in your home country. At the interview, you will need to prove that your marriage is bona fide and that you meet all other eligibility requirements for a green card.
If your immigrant visa application is approved, you will be issued a visa. This visa will allow you to travel to the United States and become a permanent resident.
Marrying a U.S. citizen as an F-1 Visa holder presents unique opportunities and challenges. Proper planning and adherence to legal guidelines can create a smooth path to permanent residency.
For individualized assistance, schedule a consultation with us. Our expert team is committed to providing tailored solutions for your unique situation.