Green card: The non-American spouse resides abroad

green card


US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) have the right to apply for a permanent residence, or green card, for their spouse. Note that the process will be longer if the spouse submitting the application is a permanent resident, because of the waiting period before a visa is available (see “green card – immigration by the family”).

The request must demonstrate:

The couple must be married

Marriage must be in good faith, and not for the purpose of obtaining a green card. For this you must provide evidence of an existing and continuing relationship.

The non-American husband does not have a criminal record (which would make him ineligible for an immigrant visa), nor a history of fraud, false testimony, or other wrongdoing. However, if this is the case, the person can request a waiver of their grounds for ineligibility before obtaining an immigrant visa.

If the spouses have been married for less than two years on the date of the non-American spouse’s entry into the territory, this green card is conditional (CR-1 visa), and also couple can remove conditions on green card by following the documentation criteria. If the spouses have been married for more than two years on the date of entry into the territory, the residence or green card is permanent (IR-1).

The U.S. citizen cannot include the unmarried child under the age of 21 (under 18 for stepchildren) in the same application, a separate application will need to be made for that child.

This rule does not apply to permanent residents who have the right to include unmarried children under the age of 21 of their spouse (under 18 for children by marriage) in the visa application. immigrant that they make for this husband.

Status adjustment

It is also possible to apply for a green card following a marriage with an American citizen when one is already present in the United States, whether one is under a legal status or not. However, the immigration authorities in the USA will not excuse the irregular presence of the foreign national spouse who entered the United States without being checked by customs (“entered without inspection” -EWI). Provisions have been put in place to allow despite everything the reunification of families separated because of the ineligibility of the foreign national spouse to the adjustment of status, because of a lack of control on entry into the territory. for example (see Provisional exemptions).

Unlike the immigrant visa process, the adjustment of status is carried out in a single step, namely the filing of the relative petition for alien at the same time as the request for adjustment of status. Once the file has been sent, the couple will be summoned to the US for an interview at the immigration office closest to the applicant’s residence (i.e., US citizen spouse).


Remember that the lottery is free, so a site that asks you for money is to be considered fraudulent. Ditto for emails announcing that you have won the Green Card. Only the official site is valid.

  • Always keep your Green Card with you in case of an inspection.
  • The Green Card is valid for 10 years (except in special cases such as marriage with an American for example). The renewal application must be made within 6 months before it expires unless you have initiated a citizenship application in the meantime.
  • If your Green Card request is refused, you have the option of appealing.
  • Take great care in reading and completing the application forms as the slightest oversight or misunderstanding can cause the application to fail.
  • The waiting times for the Green Card are different depending on the category concerned and your country of origin. This can go up to more than 10 years!

* Important: In May, it is up to you to check the progress of your request with the confirmation number because no message will be sent to you.

If you are selected, you can then apply for a visa. Procedural costs then apply. If you are not selected, you can try again the following year.

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