The U.S. government’s laws for immigration are strict but offer many options for those who wish to visit or live permanently in Michigan or other states. One option for obtaining permanent residency is to marry someone who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. However, the Citizenship and Immigration Services carefully scrutinizes those who seek green cards through marriage to verify whether the marriage is valid.

Marrying for the sole purpose of obtaining residency in the United States is a form of fraud and can have serious, long-term consequences. USCIS will use documentation, interviews and witnesses to determine whether a marriage is valid according to U.S. law. For example, the law forbids multiple spouses. Therefore, neither the one seeking a green card through marriage nor the petitioner’s intended partner may have more than one spouse, even if the other spouse remains in a different country.

Generally, the U.S. government will accept as valid any marriage that is valid in the petitioner’s native country, with some exceptions, such as marriage to family members. Most critically, USCIS agents will want to know that the couple who is marrying are doing so for genuine reasons. To prove this, the couple may undergo rigorous interviews in which USCIS agents ask personal questions about the relationship.

Even if a foreign national is living in Michigan or elsewhere under one of the U.S. visa programs, marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder does not automatically grant permanent residency. The process is complex, and success is not guaranteed. However, with the assistance of an attorney skilled in immigration law, many have found their chances of success improved.