Eligibility Exceptions and Issues

Step-by-step guide to getting a marriage green card if both spouses live in the U.S.


Generally speaking, the green card application process described here is open to any spouse of a U.S. green card holder who is now present in the United States with valid immigration status, and who entered the United States using a valid visa. But there are exceptions where such spouses may not be eligible for a marriage-based green card. These situations include:

  • Spouses who entered the United States on a J-1 exchange visitor visa may be 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 a green card (“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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