Does marriage to a U.S. citizen automatically confer a green card on a foreign national?

: Marriage to a US Citizen does not automatically confer a green card on a foreign national. In order for the foreign national to obtain a green card, the US Citizen spouse must file a petition for alien relative processing and filing the Form I-130 together with evidence to establish the validity of the marriage.

The marriage must be valid according to the laws where the marriage took place, and be a bona fide marriage, a marriage and not a marriage of convenience solely entered to obtain an immigrant benefit also known as “shame marriage”.

Despite the fact that US Citizen spouses are not subject to numerical limitations as to visa availability, they are subject to the grounds of inadmissibility contained in section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act as amended.

The Foreign spouse still must prove that he is admissible and that he is not barred from admission because of any of the statutory grounds contained in section 212 of the act.

If the foreign spouse is inadmissible pursuant to section 212 of the INA, the alien may or may not have a waiver. A Waiver is a provision also contained in section 212 that permit certain foreigners to obtain the immigration status he or she filed for upon satisfaction of certain elements contained in the waiver provision.

The most common grounds of inadmissibility are unlawful presence, prior immigration law violations, misrepresentation and fraud, medical and public charge grounds.

In the event that the foreigner spouse is granted admission pursuant to his or her marriage to a US Citizen, if the US Citizen filed the Petition for Alien Relative before the second anniversary of the marriage, the Alien Foreigner Spouse is granted “conditional Residence” which conditions the Right to Permanently Reside in the United States to being married to the US Citizen Petitioner and to lift the conditional residence status 90 days prior to the second year after the petition for alien relative ( immigrant visa-green card status-) was granted.

The conditional Residence Status provision was enacted by Congress to deter shame marriages and to prevent marriage fraud.

The Department of Homeland Security will notify the spouses of the need to remove the conditional residence by sending a written notice with instructions as to what form to file and what evidence the parties must submit in support of the application. Once the conditional Residence is lifted, the Foreigner Citizen Spouse becomes Permanent Resident of the United States with all the benefits and privileges the status confers.