Marriage Green Card for Canadians Applying for Permanent Residency Through Marriage to an American Citizen
A Canadian citizen who is married to a U.S. citizen can apply for permanent residency – also known as a green card. There are two options to apply for a green card through marriage: 1) Adjustment of status, and 2) Consular Processing. Read more about Marriage Green Card for Canadians.
Conditional Residency versus Permanent Residency
Marriage-based green cards can be issued with a validity period of either 2 years or 10 years, depending on whether the Canadian spouse was initially granted conditional or permanent residency. If the marriage duration is fewer than 2 years at the time of the interview, the green card will be granted for 2 years, known as conditional residency. On the other hand, if the couple has been married for more than 2 years at the time of the interview, the green card will be valid for 10 years, signifying permanent residency.
In the case of a 2-year conditional green card, the couple is required to jointly apply for a 10-year permanent resident green card within the 90-days before the conditional green card’s expiration. Similar to the initial application, the couple must present evidence that substantiates the continuing authenticity of their marital relationship.
Example: Richard married a U.S. citizen in June 2020 and he received his conditional green card on July 1, 2021. He and his wife must apply to remove the condition of his residency sometime between April 1 – July 1, 2023.
The conditional residency requirement is implemented with the intention of preventing individuals who are not U.S. citizens from entering into fraudulent marriages solely for the purpose of obtaining a green card. This measure aims to address situations where foreigners marry U.S. citizens purely to gain the benefits of a green card, such as the ability to reside and work in the country. By requiring married couples to demonstrate the continued validity of their marriage after two years, the USCIS seeks to deter and prevent such misuse and abuse.
Upon approval of the application, the Canadian citizen attains full-fledged U.S. permanent residency status. However, it is crucial to note that failing to timely address the removal of the conditional status can potentially result in the loss of residency for the Canadian citizen. So it is crucial to mark the one-year and nine-month date of receiving conditional residency on your calendar by using the USCIS early filing calculator.
What if I get divorced before the two-year anniversary?
It is common for marriages to last fewer than two years (or even two months, for that matter). For those whose conditional residency has not been removed, this could lead to problems with their immigration status. Generally, divorce terminates conditional residence. However, those with a 2-year conditional green card may be able to apply for a waiver of the failure to remove the condition if they can prove that the marriage was bona fide, entered into in good faith, and that the Canadian spouse was not at fault for failing to file the joint petition.
Learn more about marriage green cards for Canadians
Email us if you are a Canadian citizen who wants to learn more about being sponsored for a green card through marriage to an American citizen.