US Immigration law is geared towards family unity. Immediate relatives of US citizens get broad benefits including being eligible for adjustment of status as long as they entered with a visa or some sort of lawful status. A spouse of a US citizen can adjust to become a green card holder even if they have overstayed their visa for many years. They are also eligible to work authorization (work permit) while they are waiting for their green card and while someone else in what is called a “preference” category cannot work while waiting for their immigrant visa working without authorization is typically excused for immediate relative spouses of US citizens.
These two benefits are extremely desirable. You can pretty much work without penalty and you can get your green card from the US without having to travel to your home country for an immigrant visa like for instance a brother of a US citizen would have to.
Another benefit is just how quickly these applications are processed. Processing times for these categories is typically around 6 months for an interview date, then your two or ten year green card might come to you in the mail anywhere from one month to two months after your interview date if all goes well.
Marriage to a US citizen does come with many perks, but while it is helpful to consider your immigration status as part of your decision you do not want to have this as your only reason for entering into a relationship. You should never exchange money for a marriage for immigration benefits. Marriage fraud can bar you from ever having an immigration benefit and can even bar you from other benefits not based on marriage in the future.
That being said, marriages come in many forms and not everyone has the picture perfect storybook marriage that we see on tv and in the movies. That is okay. Good relationships can look like different things to different people. All marriages are not the same, but just try to remember that marriages are more than a piece of paper and USCIS will be looking for proof of a genuine marriage that consists of more than just pictures of your wedding ceremony. Focus on building a life that makes sense to you and your relationship with your spouse and document as much as you can.
Marriage to a US citizen has its upside, but being married by itself will not be enough for an approval I will follow-up this post on some frequent issues that are seen as red flags by USCIS for marriage fraud and the types of proof that you can put together to prove a good faith relationship. I’ll also do a post about what you should do if you have been accused of marriage fraud.
Also, if you are facing any of these issues remember that this general legal information is not specific to your circumstances. If you are facing a notice of intent to deny or a request for evidence concerning marriage fraud then you need to consult an immigration lawyer about your situation to get legal advice specific to your factual situation.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact me.