If you just got married to a non-U.S. citizen who is currently staying or living in the U.S., your marriage may qualify your spouse for a green card/ legal permanent residency immediately if you’re a U.S Citizen.

Initial process requires a filling of Petition for Alien Relative (I-130) along with supporting evidence. The end process is called Adjustment of Status (I-485). These processes can be divided into three major steps.

Step 1: Is your spouse eligible to apply?

Marriage to a U.S. citizen makes your spouse what is known as an “immediate relative,” and eligible for a U.S. green card just as soon as you can get through the application process. Additionally, you must prove that your relationship is “bona fide,” that is, that the relationship is real and not just entered into for immigration purposes. To prove the bona fide nature of the marriage, several factors are taken into consideration including but not limited to relationship ties, family and friends, children, cohabitation, joint accounts etc. The following evidence is needed while filing a I-130.

Step 2: Could the spouse adjust within the U.S. or would need a consular process?

Depending upon your current status, the process can go either way.

If you entered the United States illegally, you will need to do waiver for your unlawful presence or other inadmissibility (if any), depending on your situation and apply for consular process. The consular process involves your spouse going outside the United States and coming back in with an immigrant visa.

On the other hand, if you entered the United States legally on a visa or entered on a visa then overstayed on your visa, you will still be able to apply for adjustment within the U.S provided you do not have any inadmissibility issues.

Step 3: The interview, when you apply for adjustment within the U.S.

After your application is processed by USCIS and the immigrating spouse has attended a fingerprinting appointment, you will both have to attend an AOS interview. You can also hire an attorney to represent you during this interview.

USCIS will send instructions on what to bring to this interview. Be sure to bring a well-chosen selection of documents (copies and originals) proving that your marriage is the real thing and that you are sharing a life together. For example, joint bank statements, a mortgage or apartment lease in both your names, wedding photos, and children’s birth certificates are all good forms of evidence.

The USCIS officer will ask about basic information in your application, and ask various questions about your marriage. If the officer is satisfied with your application and answers, he will approve your petition.

Adjustment of Status is a complex process, so be sure to talk to an immigration attorney before you apply.