After marrying a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, a foreign-born spouse is entitled to apply for U.S. residence. The type of petition filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will depend on the previous immigration status of the foreign spouse, if applicable.
Petition for Alien Relative
The spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident will need to file USCIS Form I-130, also known as a "Petition for Alien Relative." Supporting documentation will be required with this form, including biographical information on both spouses and a signed affidavit by the U.S. spouse stating she will financially support the foreign spouse during the period of application processing. Submit this petition as soon as possible after your marriage. A copy of your marriage certificate will be required as supporting evidence.
Travel and Work
While your application for conditional permanent residency through marriage is pending, you may not travel outside the United States, or work for an employer, without specific permission from USCIS. If you wish to travel or work while your application is pending, apply for an Advance Parole travel document and an Employment Authorization Document at the same time as filing your Form I-130. Note that approval of travel and work documents may take several months.
Conditional Permanent Residence
Upon approval of your Form I-130, you will be issued with a temporary green card which lasts for two years. Within three months of the expiration of this card, you must file a petition with USCIS to remove the conditions on your residence. If this petition is approved, you will be issued a permanent green card and allowed to stay and work in the United States indefinitely.
- wedding image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com