Many of my clients are persons who are either engaged to be married, or are already married. Usually, one of the persons is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, and the other person is a citizen of another country and would like to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
For many persons, there are generally 3 different ways to move forward in the process of obtaining permanent resident status.
Fiance/Fiancee Visa: For persons who are not yet married, one option is an application for a fiance/fiancee visa. Please note that only U.S. citizens may file a fiance/fiancee visa petition. The fiance will attend a visa interview at the U.S. Consulate in the home country or in a country where the fiance has permission to reside. Upon approval, the fiance travels to the United States, and then must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entering the United States. If they do not marry, then the fiance must depart the United States. As soon as they marry, then the fiance may apply for permanent resident (green card) status.
Immigrant Visa: Another option is for the persons to legally marry, either in the United States or in any country in which the marriage may be legally performed. After the legal marriage, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse files a petition for his/her spouse. The spouse will attend a visa nterview at the U.S. Consulate in the home country or in a country where the fiance has permission to reside. Upon approval, the spouse travels to the United States and enters with the immigrant visa. The date that the spouse enters the United States is the date that the person becomes a lawful permanent resident (green card status).
Adjustment of Status: A third option, for certain persons who are present in the United States, is for a married couple to apply for adjustment of status in the United States. “Adjustment of status” is a term that means that the applicant is applying to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States while the person is in the United States. This procedure, if successful, means that the applicant does not need to attend an interview at a U.S. Consulate outside the United States.
Each of these three options has certain advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, each of these options is only available to certain persons who meet the requirements and for whom the option is beneficial to them.
I have considerable experience with each of these 3 pathways to lawful permanent resident status. I would be glad to communicate with you about these options.