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Marriage Based
several kinds of visas that allow you to work in the United States

U.S. Citizenship
process of becoming a United States citizen is known as naturalization

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Marriage-based Green Card
When a U.S. citizen, residing in the United States, marries an alien, the alien is eligible to receive a green card based on that marriage. If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse is considered an "immediate relative" and he or she may apply for permanent residency. In order to be granted permanent residency, your spouse's relationship with you must be established and your spouse must be admissible to the United States under the immigration law. Also, the marriage must be bona fide, not merely a sham to get the alien a green card. The INS takes fraudulent marriage seriously and you will be asked to provide supporting documents to show that the marriage is valid. 

Alien-Spouse Visa (I-130)
If a U.S. citizen marries an alien abroad or in the United States, an I-130 petition must be filed after the marriage to begin the immigration process for the alien spouse. This can be filed either with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the United States, or, under certain circumstances, at U.S. embassies or consulates abroad. U.S. embassies and consulates have differing policies on approving I-130s and should be individually contacted about the availability of this service. Many posts have their own web pages which include this information and which can be accessed through the U.S. Embassy and Consulate links page Prior to departure from this country, the U.S. citizen should contact the INS or appropriate foreign service post to ascertain exactly what documents will be necessary to file the immigrant petition for a new spouse. For more information about this option, see the Bureau of Consular Affairs' brochure Tips for U.S. Visas: Family-Based Immigrants. For more information on how to arrange a legally valid marriage abroad, see the Office of Citizens Consular Services' brochure.

Fiance Visa (I-129F)
U.S. citizens may file an I-129F petition with INS for the issuance of a K-1 fiance(e) visa to an alien fiance. A citizen exercising this option must remain unmarried until the arrival of the fiance in the U.S., and the wedding must take place within three months of the fiance's arrival if he/she is to remain in status. Also, the alien and U.S. citizen must have met personally at least once in the two years before the petition was filed. Please note: Legal permanent residents (green card holders) may not file petitions for fiance visas. They must marry abroad and then file an I-130 petition for the immigration of a new spouse. Please note: Your fiance may enter the United States only one time with a fiance visa. If your fiance leaves the country before you are married, your fiance may not be allowed back into the United States without a new visa.

How Do I Apply?
You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. Under U.S. immigration law, immigrants are persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. You must file the following forms and documents with the INS to begin the process:

Alien-Spouse Visa
# U.S. citizen files a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on the spouse's behalf ($110) 
# If the alien is already in the United States, he/she files I-485 application for adjustment of status to permanent resident (green card holder) ($220) 
# You both file biographical forms G-325A (no fee) 
# If already in United States, the alien files Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (w/signature card and $100 filing fee) This allows the alien to work while waiting for the green card interview. 
# Two color photos of both husband and wife taken within 30 days of the date of the I-130 petition 
#Certified copy of marriage certificate 
# U.S. citizen's proof of citizenship (e.g., passport, birth certificate) 
#Certified copies of documents that terminated previous marriages such as a divorce decree 
# Sworn affidavits from friends and relatives to prove validity of marriage 
# Filing fees

After these forms are filed with the INS, the INS will: 

* Process and investigate the information and documents submitted 
* Schedule an interview (this could take from two months to over two years, depending on the INS jurisdiction) 
Examples of questions you can expect from the interview:

* What color is your spouse's toothbrush? 
* What color is the carpeting in your living room? 

Examples of documents that you should be prepared to produce: 
* Wedding photos 
* Tax returns 
* Joint bills 
* Joint leases 
* Joint bank accounts 
* Fiance Visa 

Fiancé Visa
#
U.S. citizen files I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance ($95) Please note: Once the alien is granted the K-1 visa and enters the United States, the marriage must occur within 90 days. 
# You both file biographical forms G-325A (no fee) 
# Alien must undergo medical examination 
#You both file evidence that the two parties have physically met within the past two years 
# Alien files Affidavit of Support I-134 (no fee) and I-864 (no fee) 
# Two color photos of both husband and wife taken within 30 days of the date of the I-129F petition 
# U.S. citizen's proof of citizenship (e.g., passport, birth certificate) 
# Certified copies of documents that terminated previous marriages such as a divorce decree 
# Sworn affidavits from friends and relatives to prove validity of marriage 
# The spouse files I-485 application for adjustment of status to permanent resident (green card holder) ($220)

Recent Changes
Before 1986, when a citizen married a foreigner and petitioned for the spouse, the spouse was granted permanent residence fairly
  (Continued...)

Registration of Foreigners in IndiaImmigration Law
Regulations Applicable To Foreigners In India
Immigration Law

U.S. Citizenship Applications
The process of becoming a United States citizen is known as naturalization, and is controlled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). To become a naturalized citizen, you must first spend a set amount of time as a legal permanent resident of the United States, usually five years. The right to vote, access to programs such as Social Security, a United States passport, and the ability to qualify for security clearances are just a few of the advantages enjoyed only by citizens of the United States.

The Naturalization Process:
Follow these steps to become a United States citizen:
1) Determine your eligibility.
Basic eligibility requires only that a person has lived as a legal permanent resident in the US for five years, never taken a trip abroad of more than 6 months, and has been physically present in the US for a total of half the entire time--two and half years. Current regulations do allow a person to start the application process ninety days before they fulfill their residency requirement, though ninety percent of applicants fall into the category of the basic case, and need only meet these requirements. However, there are many special circumstances, such as marriage to a US citizen, that might affect your eligibility; fill out the INS online Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet to see how you are affected.

2) Obtain an application form.
INS Form N-400 is available from the INS Forms Line at (800)870-3676, or on their web site.

3) Fill out the form completely and honestly.
Incomplete information will delay the processing of your application, so double check that everything is filled out. Be honest if you are found to be lying your citizenship can be denied, even after you have completed the process. See the checklist below to make sure your application is complete.

4) Send it in.
Applications must be sent to INS Service Centers, not to local INS offices. To find the Service Center for your area of the country, use the INS state map page.

5) Get fingerprinted.
If your application is complete, the INS will send you an appointment letter for fingerprinting, follow the instructions on when and where to go for the procedure. You may be contacted afterward by the INS, requesting additional documents. 

6) Go to the interview.
After the fingerprinting, you will receive a letter telling you where and when to go to your naturalization interview. Be sure to bring any documents requested in the interview letter. The interview covers 3 requirements:
* English reading, writing, and speaking. You must demonstrate a basic command of the English language. 
* Civics test. You will need to answer approximately 20 questions on the history and government of the US. Try the INS self test to see how much you know. 
* Questions on your application and background. You will be asked questions about your background and the evidence supporting the application for citizenship, where you live and how long you have lived there, your character, your attachment to the Constitution, and your willingness to take the oath of allegiance to the United States.

Get your decision!
Following the interview, your request for citizenship will either be granted, continued, or denied: 
* Granted: You may be able to take the oath ceremony the same day. However, it is very common to be notified by mail at a later date. In this case the notification letter will tell you when and where you may take your oath of citizenship. 
* Continued: Your application is on hold for the time being. This could be the result of failing one of the tests during the interview, or failing to provide a document the INS requested. The letter of continuation will provide the details of what is wrong, and what you can do to finish the process. 
* Denied. If the INS denies your application, they will provide a letter explaining why, and telling you what to do if you would like to appeal the decision. The form to request a hearing on your denial is INS Form N-336. 

Take the oath.
You are not a US citizen until you have taken the Oath of Allegiance, swearing allegiance to the United States and renouncing all allegiances to any foreign country. At this time you will return your Permanent Residence Card (Green Card), and pick up your Certificate of Naturalization. You should get a US Passport as soon as possible following the ceremony. If you lose your Certificate of Naturalization, and you do not have a passport, you will have no proof of citizenship until you can get a replacement

Application Checklist
Make sure your application for naturalization includes the following:
# INS Form N-400. Filled out completely and honestly. Two photos. Most camera shops can take these for you--they should not be mounted, be in color, 1/= inches square, and should be taken from an angle to show both your right ear and your face.

# Photocopy of your Green Card. Send a photocopy of both sides of your permanent residency card.

# Application Fee. This should be sent as a check. The current N-400 fee can be found in the NEWFEES.PDF download on the INS web site; the most recent fee, effective January 15, 1999 was $225, plus a $25 fee for fingerprinting.

# Any other required documents. If you have any special circumstances, you will need to send other documents, specified by the INS. Page 34 of the Guide to Naturalization lists the document requirements for special cases.

Naturalization is not a fast process, even if we don't consider the amount of time you must spend as a permanent resident. In the common basic case, however, the process is not complicated. Many people can and do succeed on their own. However, if you are having problems understanding the requirements or the process, or if you have a complicated case, you may want to consider using an immigration lawyer. Our Find-A-Lawyer feature can put you in touch with an experienced attorney right now. If you would like answers to some common questions, check out the 

Marriage-based Green Cards
(Continued...)

 quickly and more or less as a matter of course. In 1986, as a result of concerns about alleged marriage fraud, Congress passed the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA), which changed the legal process. Thereafter, the U.S. citizen had to petition for what is called "conditional resident status" for the spouse. The couple then had to wait for 2 years after conditional resident status obtained during which time they had to remain married, and then jointly petition INS to adjust the conditional status to that of permanent residence. Both spouses had to undergo a personal interview with the INS, to prove that the marriage was a bona fide one, before permanent resident status was conferred on the spouse (Anderson 1993). The two-year waiting period to apply for permanent resident status required by IMFA begins on the date the spouse obtains conditional resident status. Administrative delays can continue for four years or more. Please see USLaw.com article How Do I Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage. 
Obtaining an immigrant visa can be a complicated process and may not always end with the desired result. While it is possible to obtain such visas successfully on your own, you may wish to save time and effort by hiring a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer. Our Find-a-Lawyer feature can put you in touch with an experienced attorney right now. 

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