How Canadians can apply for a Green Card Through Marriage to an American Citizen

canadian marrying an american
Canadians married to an American are eligible to apply for a green card

Marriage Green Card for Canadians Marrying a U.S. Citizen

Adjustment of Status versus Consular Processing

As outlined in the Marriage-Based Green Card for Canadians section, there are two ways to apply for a green card through marriage: 1) Adjustment of Status if currently the United States, or 2) Consular Processing while waiting in Canada for an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Montreal. You can apply for adjustment of status if you are currently in the United States on a work visa, student visa or investor visa. Otherwise if you are outside of the United States, you would apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in Montreal.

Proof of Bona Fide Marriage

In order for a Canadian to qualify for a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, they must be able to demonstrate that the marriage is legitimate and bona fide. That means that they have to provide sufficient proof that the marriage is real and entered into in good faith – not just for purposes of obtaining a green card.

A bona fide relationship isn’t necessarily determined by how long a couple has been together. A couple may have only been together for a few months before getting married and that would still be a bona fide marriage.

To prove that a marriage is bona fide, the couple will have to provide extensive documentation and evidence. These can include photographs, joint accounts, proof of traveling together, and proof of living together. There is no standard checklist of documents to prove a bona fide marriage. Every relationship is different, so documents and proof will vary with each case. This is the most important part of a case and it is crucial to have an experienced immigration lawyer prepare an application that ensures all criteria are met.

Green Cards for LGBTQ and Same-Sex Marriages

Canadian-American couples in same sex marriage are eligible for green cards. Read more about Same-Sex and LGBTQ Marriages.

Same-sex and LGBTQ couples who are engaged to each other can also apply for the K-1 fiancé visa.

Adjustment of Status in the U.S.

A Canadian citizen who is currently residing in the United States lawfully may be able to adjust their status to a green card. Valid non-immigrant status can include a work visa, investor visa, or student visa.

This process requires the American citizen spouse to submit a petition to sponsor the Canadian spouse; while the Canadian spouse submits an application to adjust his or her status.

Consular Processing from Canada

A Canadian citizen who is currently residing outside of the U.S. can apply for an Immigrant Visa through consular processing. After the U.S. citizen spouse’s petition is approved, the Canadian spouse will be required to attend an interview in Montreal. If approved, he or she will be issued an Immigrant Visa and subsequently a green card after moving to the U.S.

Employment Authorization

A Canadian citizen with a pending adjustment of status application with USCIS can apply for employment authorization (EAD) which allows them to seek employment while they are waiting for their green card interview. Employment authorization is not available to those applying for a green card through consular processing. It is only available for those adjusting their status in the U.S.

As of October 2019, employment authorization appears to be taking about six months for approval. Unless the Canadian is already in a valid non-immigrant status such as TN status, H-1B status, E-2 status, L-1 status, or O-1 status, they should not accept any type of employment until the EAD is approved.

Advance Parole

With the exception of those in H-1B status or L-1 status, Canadians with a pending adjustment of status application through marriage with USCIS cannot travel outside the United States until their green card is approved. Doing so may result in USCIS considering the green card application as abandoned. Advance Parole is not available to Canadians applying for a green card through consular processing.

When applying for adjustment of status through marriage, the Canadian may also submit an application for Advance Parole. This would permit them to travel outside the United States and return while their green card application is still pending.

Affidavit of Support

For both adjustment of status and consular processing applications, the U.S. citizen spouse is required to sign an affidavit of support confirming that he or she meets the income requirement to support the Canadian spouse after the green card is issued. When signing an affidavit of support, the sponsor is affirming that he/she will remain obligated to their spouse until one of the following has been met: 1) they become a U.S. citizen; 2) they die; 3) they leave the U.S. and abandons residency; or 4) they earn 40 quarters of social security credits.

Use of Income

The income requirement varies depending on the size of the U.S. citizen spouse’s household. The larger the household, the more income he or she is required to demonstrate.

Use of Assets

Instead of income, the U.S. citizen sponsor can also use assets such as savings, retirement funds, or real estate.

Use of Joint Sponsor

If the U.S. citizen sponsor does not meet the income or asset requirements, they can use a joint sponsor or co-sponsor who does. The joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) but there is no requirement that he or she be related to the primary sponsor.

Learn More About How a Canadian Married to an American Can Apply for a Marriage Green Card

Feel free to email us if you want to learn more about how to sponsor a Canadian for a green card through marriage.