Start to Finish: Green Cards for Spouses of U.S. Citizens Living in the United States

Eligibility Exceptions and Issues

Generally, the green card application process is open to any spouse of a U.S. citizen who is now living in the United States, and who entered the United States using a valid visa.

But there are exceptions where such spouses are not eligible for a marriage-based green card. 


These exceptions include:

  • Spouses who entered the United States on a J-1 exchange visitor visa are required to spend two years in their home country after their time in J-1 status. They must satisfy this requirement before they can apply for any other type of visa, unless they obtain a waiver of this residency requirement.
  • Spouses who entered the United States on C-1/D crewman visas are ineligible to apply for adjustment of status.

  • Spouses are ineligible if they have a criminal conviction that makes them inadmissible to the United States. For example, a conviction for murder, kidnapping, or drug trafficking will make a person ineligible for a green card.

  • Spouses are ineligible to file a green card application with USCIS if they are currently in removal proceedings.

  • Spouses are ineligible if they originally entered the United States on a K-1 fiancé visa sponsored by a different partner, but did not marry that person.


Waivers may be available to help resolve some of the above situations. You can seek legal assistance if any of these situations apply to you.

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