Question from Chris, What Should an Out-of-Status International Student Do After Marrying a US Citizen?
Answer from AI:
If you are an international student who has fallen out of status in the United States and you have married an American citizen, there are steps you can take to potentially adjust your status and remain in the country legally. It’s important to understand that immigration law can be complex, and the consequences of making mistakes can be severe. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you consult with an immigration attorney for personalized advice. Here are the general steps you might take:
Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility for Adjustment of Status
- Ensure that your marriage is valid and recognized by the state where it occurred.
- Confirm that your spouse is a U.S. citizen.
- Check if you are eligible to adjust your status despite being out of status. Typically, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which include spouses, may adjust their status even if they have overstayed a visa.
Step 2: File the Necessary Forms
- File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to establish the marital relationship with your U.S. citizen spouse.
- Simultaneously or subsequently, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to apply for a green card.
Step 3: Attend the Biometrics Appointment
- After filing, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints, photo, and signature will be taken for background checks.
Step 4: Prepare for the Interview
- Both you and your spouse will likely be required to attend an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer.
- Gather all necessary documents, such as proof of your spouse’s citizenship, your marriage certificate, financial documents, and any other evidence that supports the legitimacy of your marriage.
Step 5: Attend the Interview
- During the interview, be honest and provide clear answers to the questions asked by the USCIS officer.
- The purpose of the interview is to confirm the validity of your marriage and ensure that it was not entered into solely for immigration benefits.
Step 6: Await a Decision
- After the interview, USCIS will make a decision on your application. If approved, you will be granted conditional permanent resident status if your marriage is less than two years old.
- If your marriage is more than two years old, you may be granted permanent resident status without conditions.
Step 7: Remove Conditions on Residence (if applicable)
- If you received conditional permanent resident status, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within the 90 days before your two-year green card expires.
- Being out of status can lead to deportation proceedings. It’s crucial to address your status as soon as possible.
- Entering into a marriage solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits is considered fraud and can result in severe penalties.
- If you have been out of status for more than 180 days, you may be subject to a three- or ten-year bar from re-entry into the United States if you leave the country before adjusting your status.
Seek Legal Advice
Given the complexities of immigration law and the high stakes involved, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help you avoid common pitfalls. An attorney can also advise you on any potential risks or issues specific to your case.
For more information on the adjustment of status process, you can visit the USCIS Adjustment of Status page.
Remember, this information is not legal advice, and each case is unique. It’s important to consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.