Marriage Green Card Frequently Asked Questions

What is a marriage-based green card?

A marriage-based green card, or immediate relative visa, allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States.

Who is eligible for a marriage-based green card?

To be eligible, you must meet several criteria, including:

Being legally married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Proving the validity of the marriage.

Demonstrating that the marriage is not for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.

Meeting other requirements depending on your specific situation.

How long does it take to get a marriage-based green card?

The processing time for a marriage-based green card varies depending on factors such as your spouse’s citizenship or immigration status, your country of chargeability, and USCIS processing times. It can take several months to over a year or more.

Can I apply for a marriage-based green card while in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa (e.g., F-1, H-1B, or L-1)?

Yes, you can typically apply for a marriage-based green card while in the U.S. on a valid non-immigrant visa, but you must meet the eligibility requirements and go through the adjustment of status process.

What is the adjustment of status process for a marriage-based green card?

The adjustment of status process involves filing several forms, including Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), attending a biometrics appointment, attending an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and undergoing a medical examination.

Can I travel outside the U.S. while my marriage-based green card application is pending?

Yes, but if you are in the process of adjusting your status in the U.S., you should obtain advance parole (travel authorization) before leaving the country to avoid abandonment of your application.

What if my marriage ends in divorce before I receive my green card?

If your marriage ends in divorce before you receive your green card, you may still be eligible to continue with the application process if you can demonstrate that your marriage was entered into in good faith and was bona fide.

Can my family members (spouse's children) obtain green cards through my marriage-based green card application?

Yes, your spouse’s unmarried children under 21 may be eligible to apply for green cards as derivative beneficiaries on your application.

Is there an interview as part of the marriage-based green card application process?

Yes, in most cases, USCIS requires couples to attend a marriage-based green card interview. The purpose is to assess the validity of the marriage.

Can I apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization) after obtaining a marriage-based green card?

Yes, after being a lawful permanent resident for a specified period (typically three years if married to a U.S. citizen), you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process.
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Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010