Dear Sophie: Marriage-based green card versus EB-1C green card?

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Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My fiancé and I got engaged early this year. We’re planning a wedding for later in the year when my family can travel to the U.S. from Estonia, where I’m originally from. I’ve been living and working in the U.S. for almost two years on an L-1A visa.

My company is sponsoring me for an EB-1C green card, but the process has been slow. I’m thinking about getting a green card through my spouse when we’re married.

Is there anything in particular that I should keep in mind? Also, would it be a problem if I keep my maiden name after my fiancé and I get married?

— Fantastic Fiancée

Dear Fantastic,

Congratulations on your engagement!

My law partner, Anita Koumriqian, and I recently chatted about how our first clients as new immigration lawyers were in the process of obtaining marriage-based green cards, and the joy that supporting couples brings us! On our podcast, we also talked about the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa. Take a listen!

I can understand why you may be considering alternative green card options since one of the requirements of the EB-1C green card for multinational transferee executives and managers is you must have been employed with your multinational company outside of the U.S. for at least one of the last three years and there’s no premium processing yet. Since this particular category is company-specific, it can make changing companies challenging.

As always, I recommend consulting an immigration attorney who can discuss your options based on your particular situation and goals, as well as help you through the marriage-based green card process and accompany you and your husband to the green card interview if you decide to take that route.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Can I keep my maiden name?

Yes, you can keep your maiden name! This should have no impact on your prospects for a green card through marriage. The key to a marriage-based green card is demonstrating that you married for love, not a green card — a “bona fide” marriage in legal terms. You will have to demonstrate that your marriage is in good faith and that you’re braiding your lives together.

The immigration officer evaluating your case will look for evidence such as photos from your wedding, a lease agreement or a mortgage loan signed by both of you, your 401(k) plans that list each other as the beneficiary, a joint bank account that’s frequently used to pay for household expenses, automobile or homeowners insurance policies listing both of your names, photographs and other possible evidence of your good faith marriage.