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Can an Illegal Immigrant Marry a U.S. Citizen?

US citizens can marry an illegal immigrant, but that does not mean that their undocumented partner will automatically receive a Green Card. Find out more about marriages between illegal immigrants and US nationals.

Call our immigration lawyers on +1 844 290 6312 to receive expert legal advice. No matter how complex your case is, our lawyers can help.

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Who is an illegal immigrant?

An illegal immigrant is a person who was born in a foreign country and who has entered the US and remains there without having a legal right to do so. Illegal immigrants are also referred to as undocumented or unauthorised immigrants, and they usually belong to one of the following categories:

  • A person who entered the US legally on a valid visa but did not leave once the visa expired
  • A person who entered the US without a visa and without the authorities’ permission, for example, away from a supervised border
  • A person who lied on their visa application
  • A person who purchased forged documents or a false Green Card.
a couple in a wedding dress and suit. The bride is holding a boquet and the couple has their hands intertwined

Can an illegal immigrant marry a US citizen?

The short answer to this question is yes. There are no US laws that would forbid US citizens from marrying undocumented immigrants. The same applies to US permanent residents. They also have the right to marry illegal immigrants if they wish to do so.

Many people hope that getting married will protect their spouses from deportation and will allow them to apply for US citizenship. It is possible for undocumented immigrants to get a Green Card via the marriage route. However, if your partner has been living in the US illegally, the process of adjusting their status after you get married can be challenging.

As the procedure of getting a Green Card for your undocumented partner can be complex, you should seek advice from an immigration lawyer. They will help you prepare all the required documents and guide you through the application process, increasing your chances of a positive outcome.

Is it possible to get a Green Card if a spouse has an expired visa?

If your spouse successful went through the application process and was granted a US visa, but failed to leave the country once it expired, the application process for a marriage-based Green Card is the same as if they had legal status.

If you are in such a situation, you can follow the process of applying for a K3 Spouse Visa, but the process tends to take longer as undocumented immigrants have to wait for a visa to become available. That can take more than a year.

Keep in mind, however, that if your spouse leaves the US before having their Green Card granted, they might be barred from reentering the US for three to ten years. The duration of the bar varies depending on how much time the person spent in the US illegally.

Do you need help applying for a Green Card for your undocumented spouse? Our lawyers can assist you.

Is it possible to get a Green Card if a spouse entered the US illegally?

If your spouse entered the US illegally, they might be able to apply for a Green Card, but first, they have to leave the country. The application process will vary depending on how long your partner has been illegally living in the US for:

  • If they entered the country illegally and spent less than 180 days there, they can return to their home country and apply for a Green Card through a US Embassy or Consulate. The procedure is, therefore, similar to the one all foreign citizens applying for a marriage-based visa go through.
  • If your spouse entered the US illegally and was there for more than 180 days, the authorities will impose a bar on them, forbidding them from coming back to the US for three to ten years. It is possible to apply for a provisional waiver to avoid that.

In some situations, however, such as when your spouse entered the US illegally several times or when they entered illegally after having previously been deported, they might be subject to a lifelong bar to entering the US. Then, they would not be able to apply for a US Green Card.

How to apply for a Green Card if my spouse entered the US illegally?

The visa application process if your spouse entered the US illegally is more complex than if they previously had a visa but overstayed it. If that applies to you and your partner, you will need to:

  • Submit I-130 Form, Petition for Alien Relative, to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), making sure you note that your spouse will submit the application from abroad
  • Once the I-130 is approved, which usually takes between 6 to 8 months, you will need to submit the immigrant visa application and pay the fee
  • If your partner spent more than 180 days in the US without legal status, you will need to apply for a provisional waiver. It can take around 6 months for the waiver to be approved.
  • Once your spouse’s provisional waiver is granted, they can schedule a visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

How can IAS’ lawyers help?

Getting a Green Card for your undocumented spouse can be a stressful, complicated process, especially if they entered the US illegally. Preparing a provisional waiver is not easy, so you should seek help from an immigration lawyer to avoid mistakes and prevent being separated from your partner for several years.

Our highly qualified lawyers have expert knowledge and decades of experience in the area of US immigration law. If your spouse is an undocumented immigrant in the US, you should talk to an immigration lawyer before you file and submit the application for a Green Card. Such situations can be very difficult, so getting support from a professional is essential.

Our lawyers will assess your undocumented spouse’s eligibility for a Green Card and will tell you how to proceed. Our lawyers will speak to you about your case and your individual needs to make sure you know what your options are.

To find out more about how our immigration lawyers can help, call us today on +1 844 290 6312.

We can help you if you need help with applying for a visa for your undocumented spouse.

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