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.

More on K-1 and K-3 visas.