Eligibility Exceptions and Issues

Step-by-step guide for how you can bring your spouse to the United States with a green card


Generally, the marriage green card application process described here is open to any spouse of a U.S. green card holder who is living abroad.

But there are exceptions and special situations where such spouses may not be eligible for a marriage green card, including:

  • Spouses who previously entered the United States on a J-1 exchange visitor visa are often 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 are ineligible if they have previous U.S. immigration violations. For example, if a spouse has entered the United States previously, stayed beyond the time allowed by 180 days or more, and then left the United States, they will have triggered a “bar” that prevents entry to the United States.
  • 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.

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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