A green card is the common name for a Permanent Resident Card. It is a document that proves the legal permanent resident status of the holder. A person who has been admitted to the US for permanent resident or a person who is already within the US and has their status adjusted to that of a permanent resident is given a green card as proof of that status. The card is valid for 10 years and needs to be renewed every 10 years, though the permanent resident status does not expire.
There a many ways in which a person can get a green card. However, they are not quick and simple methods. What is often considered the easiest method may be to get a green card through marriage. We can look at this process in two ways:
1.US citizen getting your fiance(e) to the US
2.US citizen or a permanent resident getting their spouse to the US
Fiance(e) Visa or the K-1 Visa
This is the visa that is used by the fiance(e) of a US citizen to enter the US. The fiance(e) and the citizen need to get married within 90 days of the fiance(e)’s entry to the US. After marriage, the couple has to jointly file for an adjustment of status. Once approved, the foreign spouse is given a conditional resident card which is valid for 2 years. 90 days prior to the expiration of the conditional resident card the couple need to jointly file a petition to have the conditions removed. Once approved, the spouse gets a permanent resident card that is valid for 10 years.
K-3 Non-immigrant Visa
The K-3 non-immigrant visa is made available to the foreign spouse of a US citizen. This visa allows the spouse to enter the US. The K-3 visa is approved only after the US citizen has filed an I-130 application on behalf of the spouse. The foreign spouse can enter the US, and then he/she can file for a green card after the I-130 has been approved.
V-1 Non-immigrant Visa
The V-3 non-immigrant visa is for the spouse of a permanent resident of the US. The foreign spouse can enter the US on a V3 visa which will be approved only if the US permanent resident has already filed an I-130 petition on behalf of the spouse. The foreign spouse can wait in the US until the petition is approved and then file for an adjustment of status to get a green card.
K-2, K-4 and V-2 Non-immigrant Visas
The K-2, K-4 and V-2 visas are for the unmarried minor children of the K-1, K-3 and V-1 visa holders respectively.
Once the I-130 petitions have been approved, it depends on the preference category that the beneficiary falls in to, to determine when the green card will be available to them. Spouses of US citizens are considered immediate relatives so they do not have to wait for a visa to become available. They can apply for a green card as soon as the I-130 has been approved. Spouse and minor children of US permanent residents fall in the Second Preference category. They can apply for a green card as soon as their priority date becomes current. Priority date is the date on which the I-130 was properly filed and accepted by the USCIS.