If you are getting married to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you may have three different citizenship paths. Whether you’re already living in California or another U.S. state will affect the process.
Living in the U.S. and married to a citizen
If you’re living in the United States, you will need to concurrently file a form to get your green card and the Petition for Alien Relative with the proper authorities after getting married. Then, you will need to get a medical exam. The next step is to complete a full green card application package. If you want to work in the U.S., you must also submit a work permit application, and you can choose to submit a travel application.
Living in the U.S. and married to a permanent resident
This process starts with submitting the Petition for Alien Relative, which the federal government uses to prove that a valid marriage exists. After the government approves it, then you must submit an Adjustment of Status Packet. Once the government tells you that a visa number is available, you need to submit a green card form with supporting documentation. You may also want to submit work and travel applications.
Living abroad and married to a U.S. citizen
Suppose you are married to a U.S. citizen who is not currently living in the U.S. In that case, you need to follow the Consular Processing procedures, starting with filing a Petition for Alien Relative. The National Visa Center will complete paperwork to help your U.S. spouse get ready to interview at an American embassy. You must file a simple form telling how to reach you. Then, you can file a visa. You must be interviewed, get a passport and be fingerprinted. Then, you can travel to the U.S. with your spouse.
There are many details to be taken care of if you want to live in the United States. An immigration lawyer can help with the process.