If you are marrying someone from the country of Bangladesh, and you would like to sponsor your husband or wife for a U.S. marriage-based green card (lawful permanent residence), you will find important legal and practical guidance below, including:
This is a general overview of how the U.S. immigration process works for most people. Your situation might present complications or qualify for exceptions; see an experienced attorney for a full analysis.
First, a little background on U.S. immigration law. Marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident provides foreign-born persons a direct path to U.S. immigration. Contrary to widespread rumor, however, the foreign national does not immediately or automatically receive the right to immigrate, nor U.S. citizenship.
If you are a U.S. citizen and already married or soon to be, your new spouse becomes your "immediate relative" in the language of U.S. immigration law. Your spouse may thereby receive a green card as soon as the two of you successfully complete the application process; which can take several months to a year or more.
If you are not yet married and your fiancé is fiancé is still in Bangladesh, you can, if you are a U.S. citizen, petition for your spouse to enter the U.S. as a fiancé (on a K-1 visa).
in order to get married in the United States. Your new spouse could then apply for a green card, if desired, through a process known as adjustment of status. Upon approval, your spouse would become a lawful conditional resident, on the way to permanent residence.
If you are a lawful permanent resident, your new spouse becomes a "preference relative," in category 2A, and can obtain permanent residence in the U.S. after a "visa number" (space for another permanent resident) has become available. At that time, your spouse can apply for an immigrant visa (and enter the United States). Because of annual limits on the number of people who can get permanent residence in category F2A, a waiting list sometimes develops, based on one's "priority date." The wait often takes around two years, though recently (2023) there has been no wait at all.
U.S. permanent residents cannot petition for fiancés. You would need to marry first, then apply for an immigrant visa.
The application process for a green card based on marriage involves multiple steps, such as submitting forms and documents and attending an interview with U.S. immigration authorities. The purpose of all this is to prove:
Procedurally, you might have more than one option as to where and how you apply, as described below.
If you and your intended spouse (who lives outside the U.S., whether in Bangladesh or elsewhere) have not yet married—or you have held an informal ceremony that does not count as an official marriage in the location where it was held—you can apply for a temporary (90-day) K-1 visa, with which your fiancé can enter the U.S. and hold the wedding.
The U.S. citizen starts this process by filing a petition on Form I-129F with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), accompanied by various supporting documents. After USCIS approves the I-129F, it will transfer the case to the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire, which eventually will send the case to the U.S. consulate in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Your fiancé will apply for a K-1 visa through the U.S. consulate. This involves submitting forms and documents and attending an interview with a consular official.
After your marriage in the U.S., your new spouse can then (if desired) apply to USCIS for a green card, through a process called adjustment of status (the main form for which is an I-485). Upon approval, your spouse would become a lawful conditional resident, on the way to permanent residence.
If you and your husband or wife have already married, and your spouse is currently in Bangladesh, you would start the green-card application process by filing Form I-130 with USCIS. Its purpose is to prove you're really married, that it's a bona fide marriage (not a sham to get a green card) and that you're really a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. (See Preparing an I-130 Visa Petition for the Immigrating Spouse of U.S. Citizen or Preparing an I-130 Visa Petition for the Immigrating Spouse of a U.S. Permanent Resident.)
After USCIS approves the I-130, spouses of U.S. citizens can move forward with visa processing.
Spouses of permanent residents can obtain permanent residence in the U.S. only after space for a permanent resident in category F2A becomes available based on your spouse's "priority date." The good news is that, as mentioned earlier, there's been no wait of late. And even if a wait develops, by the time you receive approval of the I-130, some, if not all, of the wait time will have passed.
After paying various fees and submitting documents to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire, your spouse will next go through consular processing for an immigrant visa. This means your spouse submits paperwork to, and attends an interview at, a U.S. consulate in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (The U.S. petitioner may attend the consular interview, but is not required to.)
Upon approval, your spouse enters the U.S. on an immigrant visa, instantly becoming a lawful permanent resident (or a lawful conditional resident, if your marriage is less than two years old at that time). Assuming you've paid the immigrant fee to USCIS, the green card arrives in the mail several weeks later.
If your spouse happens to be living in another country than Bangladesh, the consulate there would likely be the one to handle the case. For more information from an individual consulate, you can check the State Department's web page for Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions.
If your spouse initially came to the U.S. legally, most likely as a nonimmigrant (such as on a fiancé or student visa or as a tourist), and either you are a U.S. citizen or your spouse is still in valid status, your spouse can apply to adjust status in the United States. The main form for this is an I-485. The two of you will attend an interview at one of USCIS's field offices.
Information about USCIS locations or service centers can be found at its website, www.uscis.gov. (Just make sure your spouse did not commit visa fraud by using the nonimmigrant visa specifically to enter the U.S. and apply for a green card—see Risks of Entering the U.S. as a Tourist, Then Applying for Marriage- Based Green Card for details on this problem.)
If, however, your spouse entered the U.S. without inspection or by using a fake visa, or you are a permanent resident rather than a citizen, your situation is more complicated than this article can address. You could have difficulty obtaining a green card for your spouse, though it is not impossible. See an immigration attorney for details or if you have any questions about whether you qualify to adjust status.
No matter where you marry, you will need to obtain a certificate that convinces U.S. immigration authorities that it was legally recognized in the state or country where it took place. Below are some tips on doing that.
If you have married, or plan to get married in your fiancé or spouse's home country of Bangladesh, you will first need to look into its requirements for a legal marriage, whether civil or religious. Be ready to prove that you have spent a minimum amount of time in Bangladesh before filing the required application for a Notice of Marriage. The minimum legal age for marriage in Bangladesh is 18.
After the marriage ceremony, you will need to obtain a certificate of that marriage for purposes of U.S. immigration. The U.S. government keeps track of what documents are considered legally valid from each country, Bangladesh included, and will reject your marriage certificate if it doesn't come from the proper source. Check the State Department's list of Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country for information on what documents from Bangladesh it considers valid, and also see its instructions for obtaining marriage certificates.
If you will hold your wedding in the U.S., you need to follow the laws of the state where you marry. You will need to obtain a marriage certificate from a local government office. A church certificate, for example, is not enough.
For personalized assistance with applying for lawful permanent residence based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder, consult an experienced attorney. The attorney can help present your options, explain strategies for the fastest way through the system, prepare the paperwork, identify trouble spots that need extra attention, and see the case to a successful result.
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