San Diego Immigration Lawyer – Marriage-based Green Card (Article 1) http://www.immigrationlawyer-sandiego.com
If you are married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for U.S. lawful permanent residence, otherwise known as a marriage-based immigrant visa or green card. To be eligible under U.S. immigration law, you and your spouse must show that you are:
• Legally married;
• In a bona fide marriage (not a sham to get a green card);
• Married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; and
• That neither you nor your spouse are married to anyone else
To qualify for a marriage-based visa or green card, you must be legally married. A legal marriage is one that is officially recognized by the government in the country or state where you were married. This usually means that an official record of your marriage has been made or can be obtained from some government office.
For this reason, domestic partnerships, in which a couple lives together but have not formalized their relationship, are not normally recognized for immigration purposes. However, if you have lived together in a place that recognizes common law marriages, you may be able to show that you met the requirements for your marriage to be legally recognized in that state or country.
You do not need to have been married in the U.S. for your marriage to be considered legal and apply for marriage-based Green Card. It is perfectly acceptable if you marry in your home country or in some other destination of your choice. A variety of marriage procedures may also be recognized, from church weddings to customary tribal practices, for green card purposes, if recognized as valid in that country.
But note that both you and your spouse must have actually attended your wedding ceremony for green card purposes. So-called “proxy” marriages, where another person stands in for the bride or groom, are not recognized by the U.S. government unless the couple later consummates the marriage afterward, meaning they have sexual relations.
If you have not yet married, make sure you are eligible to do so before you apply for marriage-based green card. The state or federal government where you intend to marry may have legal restrictions on who can marry. In the United States, each of the 50 states establishes its own marriage rules. For example, in some states you must be 18 years of age to marry, while in others you can marry younger if you can have the consent of your parents. All states prohibit a person from marrying a sister or brother (sibling), half sibling, parent, grandparent, great grandparent, child, grandchild, great grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. Some states have additional prohibitions, such as on marrying a first cousin.