Why Marriage Is No Guarantee

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You may think that if you are a foreign national who marries a U.S. citizen you’ll be guaranteed a green card that confers permanent residence status. If you seek the help of an immigration attorney in the Dallas TX area, he’ll tell you that while there are no guaranteed green cards, the path to one through marriage is possible in many cases. He’ll also tell you that there are some cases in which it isn’t. One of the reasons you may not be granted permanent resident status through marriage is if you have ever entered the United States illegally.

In general, you’ll encounter problems based on the number of times you’ve crossed the border illegally and how long you’ve stayed in the country. If you’ve entered the U.S. without permission or inspection, you should speak to animmigration attorney in the Dallas TX area about your chances of re-entering the country based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen. In fact, if you’ve entered the U.S. illegally two or more times, you’ve stayed in the U.S. illegally longer than a year in total or you’ve ever been deported from the U.S., your chances of entering and staying in the country are much less, regardless of your marital status.

If you’ve entered the U.S. illegally only once and you’ve stayed in the country for less than a year, your chances of staying legally or re-entering after marriage to a citizen are better. Unfortunately, unless you are a rare exception, you won’t be able to apply for your green card at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in the United States after you’ve completed the application process. You must leave the U.S. and apply at a consulate in your home country. If you’ve lived illegally in the U.S. for more than 6 months, leaving the country carries with it the risk of being punished for the period of time over 6 months you spent living in the U.S. without permission.

Your immigration attorney in the Dallas TX area will explain to you that you could face a bar for returning to the United States of three years or ten years depending on your situation. Although this is decidedly better than a lifetime ban from returning, it’s not ideal.

To avoid this bar, you have three choices:

1. See if you can qualify for an exception, which means you will be able to apply while still inside the United States.

2. Leave the U.S. before you have been here illegally for 6 months and apply for an immigrant visa in your home country. Be aware that you must be able to prove your length of stay to consular officials so keep documents like plane tickets and receipts.

3. Apply for a waiver of your illegal stay if your U.S. citizen spouse would experience extreme hardship if you weren’t allowed to return for three years (or ten years). It is important to talk to an attorney about getting a waiver. Many people who try to file the waiver by themselves will have their waiver denied.

The laws surrounding permanent residency status given to foreigners who marry U.S. citizens are complicated. For that reason, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney in the Dallas TX area, The Christensen Law Firm. Call (972) 497-1017 to schedule an appointment. You can also visit https://immigrationlawyerdallastx.com to learn more about our services.

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