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Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens: Spouse

A person who is married to a U.S. citizen can qualify for immigration in this category.

Conditional Green Card" for the alien spouse

If a person is the spouse of a U.S. citizen and the marriage occurred less than two years before the alien spouse is admitted as a U.S. permanent resident, a "conditional green card" is issued to the alien spouse. That means the alien spouse's permanent resident status may be subject to be terminated within two years after it is granted, if the marriage has terminated by divorce or annulment during that period. For more information on divorce and immigration, please click here.

Except for this condition, the alien spouse is a full permanent resident in all aspects. For instance, the alien spouse can work for any employer after acquiring a work permit; the alien spouse can also travel outside the United States with an approved travel document.

In order to remove the condition on the alien spouse's permanent residency, both spouses need to jointly petition to remove the condition within 90 days before the second anniversary of the alien spouse's admission as a permanent resident. Failure to do so will result in the termination of the alien spouse's conditional permanent residence. [INA 216 (c)]

Immigration Procedure

There are two scenarios for a U.S. citizen's spouse to apply for immigration:

  • The first scenario is that the alien spouse is already in the United States. In this case, the U.S. citizen can file an immigration petition (Form I-130) and the alien spouse can file an application to adjust status to permanent resident (Form I-485) at the same time.
  • The second scenario is that alien spouse is outside the United States. In this case, the U.S. citizen needs to file an immigration petition and request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where his or her spouse lives. Once the immigration petition is approved, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends a forms and information package, "Packet 3", to the U.S. citizen. After the necessary forms are completed, the alien spouse goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that the alien spouse enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

For more detailed information about the Immigration of spouses and children of of U.S. citizens, please click on the following links: