Marriage to a U.S. Citizen - Green Card Options
TN visa workers engaged to, or married to a U.S. citizen generally have 4 options to pursue U.S. permanent residence (i.e. a green card). While the same basic requirements for a green card must be met in each of these options, they each involve different elements and procedures.
Process Within the U.S. (AOS)
- TN visa workers married to a U.S. citizen may file for a green card by applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS).
- The whole process (I-130 petition and I-485 adjustment application) is completed from within the U.S.
- All paperwork filed at the same time.
- Generally, the fastest of the options. Processing varies based on U.S. location, but is often completed within 1 year or less.
- May maintain TN visa status during process, but cannot renew or obtain new TN.
- Could face gap in status or work authorization based on timing.
- Will face travel restriction until travel authorization issued.
More on TN & AOS Option→
Process Outside the U.S. (IVP)
- Although most often used by individuals married to a U.S. citizen and who reside outside the U.S., immigrant visa processing (IVP) may also be used by TN visa workers.
- A two stage process: (1) filing of the I-130 petition; and (2) applying for immigrant visa at U.S. consulate.
- Processing time of two stages combined of about 12-18 months.
- IVP does not provide any authorization to reside or work in the U.S. until the immigrant visa is issued. Must rely on TN or other visa for the interim.
- Travel on, or renewal of temporary visas like TN may be scrutinized during IVP.
More on IVP.
Hybrid Process (K-1/K-3)
- The K-1 visa (engaged to a U.S. citizen) and K-3 visa (married to a U.S. citizen) are generally used by individuals who reside outside of the U.S.
- The K-1 visa is a three stage process: (1) filing of I-129F petition; (2) applying for K-1 visa at U.S. consulate; and (3) entering the U.S. and applying for Adjustment of Status.
- The K-3 visa is a four stage process: (1) filing of I-130 petition; (2) filing of I-129F petition; (3) applying for K-3 visa at U.S. consulate; and (4) entering the U.S. and applying for Adjustment of Status. (The K-3 is often converted to IVP when the I-130 is approved before the I-129F.)
- As TN visa workers are already present within the U.S., the K-1 and K-3 is generally of little benefit.