Can An Illegal Immigrant Get Marry A U.S. Citizen
Immigrants who don’t have the proper immigration documentation need to go through numerous obstacles to legally reside in the United States. But what if they get married to a U.S. citizen? Would their situation change?
The fact is, a number of factors still come into play. Here’s how undocumented immigrants can protect their stay in the country through marriage.
Can An Undocumented Immigrant Stay In The United States?
The short answer is yes. An undocumented immigrant can get married to a U.S. citizen. A marriage between them is considered a “mixed-status” marriage. From there, it is possible for the couple to get married in the United States, regardless of immigration status.
However, getting married does not automatically grant the immigrant legal status or a path to citizenship. The process of obtaining a green card or becoming a naturalized citizen through marriage can be complex and time-consuming, and it is recommended that the couple seek the advice of an immigration attorney to understand the specific steps and requirements involved.
How To Lawfully Stay In The United States Through Marriage
There are several options for an illegal immigrant married to a U.S. citizen to try to obtain legal status in the United States. One option is for the U.S. citizen spouse to petition for a green card for the immigrant spouse. This process involves the U.S. citizen spouse filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the immigrant spouse. Then, if approved, they can apply for a green card through an adjustment of status process or consular processing.
Take note that if immigrants enter the United States illegally, they may be barred from adjusting their status. It is because individuals who entered the country in this manner are typically only eligible to change their status if they qualify for a waiver. Waivers are available for certain individuals who demonstrate that their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship.
Applying From Their Home Country
Another option for an illegal immigrant married to a U.S. citizen is to leave the United States and apply for a green card through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. However, this option can be risky because it involves leaving the country and potentially triggering the “three- and ten-year bars.” The bars can prevent the immigrant from returning to the United States for three or ten years, depending on the length of their unlawful presence in the country.
Even if the immigrant can obtain a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, they will not be naturalized automatically. They must have been green card holders for at least three years.
Seek Counsel From An Immigration Attorney
There may be several legal hurdles for undocumented immigrants who are marrying U.S. citizens. Thus, it is crucial to consult with an immigration lawyer. An attorney will help them navigate the intricacies of a lawful stay through marriage. Lincoln-Goldfinch law and its team of immigration attorneys can work with immigrants to protect their stay in the country.
It’s possible for an undocumented immigrant to stay in the United States by marrying a citizen. However, there are still legal matters that they need to handle. Whether they apply in the United States or from their home countries, this can be time-consuming, and it’s crucial to look for an immigration attorney to assist them in their case.