Category — Expert Advice

Expert Advice: Obtaining a Marriage Green Card

Posted by Guest Blogger

Bride_and_Groom_ScaleDouglas M. Lightman, Esq. is the founder and principal attorney of Lightman Law Firm.  Mr. Lightman has extensive experience in immigration law and international matters through both work and personal experience. On the personal end, Mr. Lightman is a proud citizen of both the United States and Canada.  He is the son of green card holders, and is also the loving fiancé of a non-immigrant visa holder. Drawing upon his legal and personal experience, Mr. Lightman shares what a foreigner needs to know about obtaining a green card for marriage to a U.S. citizen:

One of the great perks of marrying a U.S. citizen is having the ability to apply for a green card based on marriage to your U.S. citizen husband or wife. As many are aware, applying for a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen (aka “marriage green card”) is one of the quickest ways for a foreign individual obtain a green card (legal permanent residency).

Unlike many other immigration benefits, you can apply for a green card through marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse even if you have unlawful presence in the U.S. or you have overstayed a visa. However, there are limited circumstances where it’s not possible, for example, if you entered the country illegally, i.e. without being inspected by a customs officer, or entered as a crew member.

The marriage green card process entails numerous forms, legal issues, filings, receipts, supporting materials, government correspondence, and finally an interview. The process can be lengthy, not just in terms of applying and waiting for notices and an interview, but also in terms of preparing the forms and supporting materials. Some supporting documents that may be necessary are passports, birth certificates, a medical exam, tax returns, job letter, pay stubs, marriage certificate, divorce decree, and criminal records, if any.

Some additional items to consider in connection with the process:

• Is my marriage a real marriage? Marriage fraud is a serious offense and is punishable by deportation, 10 years in jail, and/or up to a $250,000 fine.

• Unless you obtain advance parole or you have an H-1B or L-1 visa, you cannot travel outside of the U.S. while the green card application is pending without abandoning the application.

• The foreign spouse needs to have a medical exam conducted.

• An affidavit of support will have to be completed by the U.S. citizen spouse contracting him/her to support the foreign spouse for a certain period of time and under certain conditions. If the U.S. citizen spouse doesn’t meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor will be necessary.

• You and your spouse will have to go to an interview together to prove the validity of your marriage and that the foreign spouse qualifies for a green card.

• “Bona fides” proving the validity of your marriage will be very important for the interview (photos, joint bank account, joint lease or deed, joint credit card, info indicating that you reside at the same address, etc.)

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services) filing fees for the entire application total $1,365 to date.

Every green card through marriage application is different and therefore it is strongly advised to work with competent legal counsel experienced in immigration matters throughout all parts of the process. A green card is a highly sought after U.S. immigration benefit and something that should be pursued with great care.

If you have any additional questions regarding obtaining a marriage green card, I am happy to answer them in the Jewish Wedding Network Forum.

Image by Sari Victoria

August 27, 2009   No Comments

Expert Advice: Have Ketubah, Will Travel

Posted by Guest Blogger

Ketubah designer Daniel Sroka of Modern Ketubah shares his tips for safely transporting a ketubah to your wedding site.


When my wife and I got married, we were living in San Francisco, but our wedding was closer to our family in New Jersey. Let me tell you, planning a long distance wedding has its challenges! One of which is how to safely bring your ketubah on the plane with you. As a ketubah designer, I get asked about this a lot, so I thought I’d share some advice with you. First, have your ketubah shipped directly to you, not to the site of your wedding. It is really important that you see your ketubah in person, well before the ceremony. This will allow you look it over carefully, and make sure that it is exactly what you ordered. G-d forbid it gets accidentally damaged in shipment, it will give you time to replace it.

Packing Your Ketubah

Most ketubah companies will ship your ketubah rolled between sheets of acid-free tissue paper, and placed in an extra-strong shipping tube. Experience has shown that this is the safest way to ship unframed fine art. (If this was not the way your ketubah was shipped to you, be sure to pick up these supplies to re-package the ketubah.) So the best way to travel with a ketubah is to reuse this shipping tube. Place your ketubah between the tissue paper provided, and carefully reroll it and place it in the tube. You now have a safe and portable package to carry with you to your wedding location. If you are traveling by plane, be sure to bring it with you as a carry-on, or stash it safely deep in the middle of your suitcase, surrounded on all sides by clothing.

When You Arrive

When you get to the location of your wedding, take your ketubah out of the tube, and let it unroll. The paper will keep its curl for a while, but don’t worry. The paper of your ketubah should easily “forget” the curl over time. When you remove it, you could gently use the tube to roll it in the opposite direction to remove the curl more quickly. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, just lay it flat like I suggested for a day or so to get rid of the worst of the curl. For my own wedding, I used an inexpensive poster frame to flatten the ketubah, and then protect it throughout the wedding and reception. When you are ready to have it framed, your framer can make sure that any remaining curl is removed.

May 22, 2009   No Comments