It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?

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Note: The Law Offices of Larry L. Doan in Los Angeles, CA, provides the following blog article and other information on this site, including our responses to comments, for the purpose of legal information only; it is NOT legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

This is probably the most common question we get asked by people who are here in the U.S. and want a green card. While most people might have heard from the media and common knowledge that marriage to a citizen is the fastest way to obtain a green card, or permanent residence, the answer may surprise you: Yes, you can, but it may be very hard depending upon how you came to the U.S. and what you’ve done since.

The reason for this is that U.S. immigration law has changed so many times over the years. Each time it changes, the process gets more complicated. So, yes, a foreign person can ALWAYS be petitioned by his or her US citizen spouse. But, petitioning is only the first step. It simply is a finding by the immigration authorities that the couple is indeed validly married to each other. What about the next step?

If the applicant came to the U.S. with a visa or was inspected in some way at the border or airport, then that’s the best situation. They can file to adjust their status to get a green card at the same time that their U.S. spouse file a petition for them, rather than having to wait for the spousal petition to be approved first (which could take a year or more) and then filing for the green card. There is no waiting period for a visa to become available. The only waiting would be the processing time U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) takes to decide the application, which is about six months, for example, in Los Angeles, and in most USCIS offices throughout the country.

This is all done without the applicant having to leave the U.S. to finalize the process. It does not matter how long the applicant has been in the U.S., even if they have been out-of-status for a long time on the visa  they used to enter the U.S.  Finally, as long as the applicant does not have reasons that prevent them from being admitted to the U.S. such as criminal convictions, previous overstay in the U.S. followed by departure, drugs, health/mental problems, or other specified problems under the law, their case is approved. This is the easy green-card situation that many people hope for.

Unfortunately, there are a large number of people who came to the U.S. illegally by crossing the border, especially from countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and sometimes China. They were never inspected upon entry. Those are the hard cases we mentioned at the beginning. In fact, they can be extremely hard! That will be dealt with in our next post.

Copyright © 2009-2012 Law Offices of Larry L. Doan

Any action you take or rely upon after reading the information on this blog is your own responsibility and the Law Offices of Larry L. Doan bears no responsibility or connection to such action. For an analysis of your detailed and specific questions related to your individual immigration situation or problem, there is no substitute for a “live” meeting with an attorney. This can only be done during a paid consultation between the Law Offices of Larry L. Doan and you.  To get started with a consultation, please contact us: paidconsult@guruimmigration.com.

 

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98 Responses to “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?”

  1. Comments or questions related to the blog post you’ve just read can be left in the “Leave a Reply” box below. HOWEVER: All comments or questions regarding your or family member’s immigration situation and seeking info or advice on what to do next will be ignored unless you contact us for a paid consultation here: paidconsult@guruimmigration.com. By doing so, please expect a quote for the price of the consultation with the Guru, Attorney Doan.

    We must implement this policy due to the volume of inquiries and emails received from this blog. We can only respond in the comments section below to general questions that seek clarification of a point made in the blog post above in a general way.

    Like

  2. Johnnie Bustamante Says:

    great post, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize
    this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

    Like

  3. Hi, thank you so much for the informative article.

    I just want to have a quick question on one of your points where you said “It does not matter how long the applicant has been in the US, even if they have been out-of-status for a long time on the visa they used to enter the US.”

    I came in the country on an L-1B visa and planning on applying for a CR1 with my fiance soon. The problem is that, we plan on moving state which will cause me having to quit my job in the state I’m currently in. I have heard from different sources that I have to be “in status” aka “employed” by the time we file the petition, otherwise it will make my case more likely subject to denial. Is that correct? Because based on what you said, it sounds like I can quit any time, even before we apply for CR1.

    Please let me know. Thank you so much for your help.

    Like

    • As long as your spouse will be petitioning for you under CR1 (not your fiance/fiancee), then yes, you can be out of status and adjust. What I wrote in the post is true – immediate relatives adjusting under a family-based petition has the special exemption from having to be in-status at time of adjustment filing. What you’ve heard from other sources as having to be in status to adjust is also true in the context of what they’re discussing: that is, if you’re not an immediate relative or if you’re adjusting under an employment-based petition (and even with that you can be out of status for up to 180 days!). The spouse of a US citizen is an immediate relative.

      Best,

      Larry L. Doan, Esq.
      GuruImmigration

      AILA image

      Like

  4. Arizona S. Says:

    Larry, your blog is a great read. Out of all the blogs I have read on immigration topics yours is the most comprehensive.

    I know this blog entry talks specifically about green cards based on marrying a US citizen but I just wanted to confirm that the same rules apply to other “Immediate Relatives” as well, right? For example, parents of a US citizen: even if they have overstayed on their B2 visa for many years they should get pardon for their overstay and unlawful presence if their above 21 years old biological US citizen son/daughter is filing for their green card given that they entered legally (on a B2 visa and had a proper though expired I-94). They should not have any problems adjusting status (I-485) based on this overstay.

    Also since you are a practicing attorney, do you know if there is any law going through congress currently that could take away this pardon from immediate relatives if ratified?

    Like

    • Arizona,

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, you’re right. I have blogged about immediate relatives, including parents of US citizens over 21, as being in a special category and so exempt from some of the rules other family-based relatives are subjected to. Parents of US citizens over 21 are allowed to apply for adjustment of status even if they overstayed if they entered legally. I know of no bill or proposal in Congress that would take away this special exemption for immediate relatives at this point.

      Best,

      Larry L. Doan, Esq.
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  5. Hi ! First of all thanks for helping people, my question is my 1-90 was denied and cannot renew it, i think cuz i dont file the I-751 but they told me i can file something to open my case, whats gonna happen if they open my case again? I was married for 17 yrs got divorced 2011… Thanks hope you can help me sir

    Like

    • Maja, we only answer comments on here that are relevant to the blog post’s subject. You’re asking about the I-90 and I-751, which are subjects that have not been blogged about. Whether your renewal green card has been truly denied or not can be answered by Attorney Doan in a paid consultation with him. Please contact us at consult@guruimmigration.com, or visit our site guruimmigration.com and click on “Email/Phone Consult” at the top.

      Best,
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

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    Like

  7. yoga challenge Says:

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    Like

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    Like

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  13. hello sir..thanks for being such a good person to answer all our question..here my story..my wife and i came here 2004 on tourist visa,to make the long story short we overstay and work here..in 2007 my wife was apprehended by ICE and they told to my wife that they are looking for me.i dont have any criminal wrong doing or whatsoever and i know that is a random check…so they put my wife in court but she did attend once and never did return again because she said she want to save money and then came back home to our country..as for me they never caught me only my wife..my question is i want to marry a u.s. citizen and of course divorce my wife first..is there any way that i get approve by a green card or any risk in terms if we have an interview in immigraion officer because i dont know if i am in ”removal” because my wife said they are looking for me when she caught by ice,but i never been caught or go to a immgration court,by the way the marriage is legit..thanks sir and i hope that i get some light with your response..god bless!

    Like

    • hello sir..thanks for being such a good person to answer all our question.

      Thank you, but actually, no, we don’t answer most people’s comments posted on here, as you can see by reading just a sample of the comments before you. We answer the large majority of comments by asking the person to contact our office for a paid consultation. As we state in the disclaimer at the beginning of each blog article, we do NOT answer people’s questions out of the blue on the internet asking advice on what to do on their cases. That would only invite trouble. We only provide 30-second quickie answers for those few comments that ask to clarify something the Guru had discussed in a blog article such as this one. We are a law firm and do business by representing people on cases. We are not a free legal-aid organization; those exist, look in the Yellow Pages or Google.

      Since your comment relates to removal proceedings, we cannot and don’t dare to give any type of opinion without you calling or emailing our office for a paid consultation. Our lawyer would be in danger of committing malpractice giving advice on this blog without knowing anything about your immigration history. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT.”

      Best,

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  14. I’m in the horrible situation and I can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. My wife(married since jan 21,2010) in a relationship for 6 1/2 years. This is very complicated and I want to get every possible thing covered so you can make an accurate decision on things. I’m U.S. born Dual citizen to Canada, I went to Canada in 03 I was going to be there visiting my brother. I met my then girlfriend now wife and we started a relationship. In 05 she came down back to the states to visit me. She’s been traveling back and forth and stays for months at a time then goes back for months and so on. In Sep of 06 we had a daughter together and she went back to Canada for the pregnancy. I told her it would cost way to much here. The last time she came down was end of Aug. She stayed here until the end of Jan. Close to the end she asked me “Let’s get married.” I had put that off for so long I was scared that marriage changes everything. I’ve been out of work since 2001 or 2002. I’ve been supported by my mother all this time. I am not incapable of working, I had no ambition to, I didn’t want to settle for less. I always had an excuse. Through all of this my girlfriend stuck by my side. In those years I was not as affectionate as she was to me or even not as much she deserved. She kept telling herself it would get better. I am a great father and have been since the start. After we got married I told her she had to go back before the the six month mark. Not even a few days after we were married I told her she had to go. She kept trying to tell me she didn’t want to go back she wanted to stay she was afraid. I didn’t understand what she was talking about and didn’t care. She left and I would call and talk to her for a few hours each day. I noticed the calls weren’t as full of depth as they used to be. She told me around the end of Feb, she thought we should take a break. Out of nowhere or so I thought. My woman was suggesting a break up. After we hung up which ended in argument, I did not hear from her for over a week. Desperate to get answers I called her father and told him I needed her to call me about papers. She did and I suggested an annulment. ….

    [Message truncated because of excessive length].

    Like

    • From our homepage:

      Sorry, but we simply cannot answer questions or provide advice about your specific immigration situation or case in detail on this blog.

      Our contact info for a paid consult is all over this blog. Please feel free to contact us.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  15. Enrique O. & Hannah R. Says:

    Dear Immigration Guru,

    Briefly,

    1. I am a LPR, U.S. Citizen, 22yrs old

    2. My Wife, 26yrs (married by judge) is currently on F-1 Student visa exp. Mid July, entered legally. We have been married since Dec 2010, Living together since 2009. we have all doc. to attest.

    3. I’ve been FT/PT student and worked PT the past 3 yrs,so last three tax returns will not show the min. income for sponsorship but i receive money from a inheritances which is tax free. (sponsorship concern)

    Can my inheritance income qualify me for sponsorship, FYI , my annual lump sums meet the required minimum of 18 thousand
    From What i read is it safe to assume that WE could file for her status adjustment (green card) that same month her visa expires? Unfortunately i cannot afford to currently begin the immigration process.

    What would be the most progressive path i should consider?

    Thank you for your time and your input, Sincerely,
    Enrique O. & Hannah R.

    Like

    • “1. I am a LPR, U.S. Citizen, 22yrs old” This is ambiguous. Either you’re an LPR or you’re a citizen, you can’t be both at the same time.

      “on F-1 Student visa exp. Mid July, entered legally” Ambiguous. Mid July of what, 2009 or 2010? If 2009 then she’s already out of status. If 2010, then she’s not out of status yet. Also, you obviously meant you’ve been married since Dec 2009, not Dec 2010.

      Assuming you’re a citizen, then the quickest path is for you to petition her for the green card. You’re going to have to save money to do it or borrow from family. We don’t know what you mean by the “most progressive path” to help your wife. Contact us to do the green card case. Our prices are reasonable. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT” or the beginning of every blog article for contact info.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

      • Enrique O. & Hannah R. Says:

        Thank you very much for you’re input We are greatly appreciative.

        Just Want to make a correction, we have been married since Dec of 2009.

        Once again my Question, hypothetically speaking, if i were not able to afford to start any filing for green card now, would WE be safe filing in July (the month of visa expiration). i reference to the month of July because that is when my next money will arrive, and will i qualify as her sponsor given the circumstances???

        Once again thank you for your time and consideration. Appreciatively,

        Enrique. O & Hannah R.

        Like

        • As per our policy to only clarify what’s already discussed in the article generally, not to analyze anyone’s individual situation: in the next to last paragraph of this article, the Guru had stated in regard to those who entered with visas originally that they could get approved on a green card application through marriage to a US citizen even if they have been out-of-status for a long time on the visa they used to enter the U.S. However, someone who is out of status is subjected to removal proceedings (deportation) at any time. So, it’s a risk the person runs in not filing the application soon enough.

          Once again my Question, hypothetically speaking, if i were not able to afford to start any filing for green card now,…and will i qualify as her sponsor given the circumstances???

          And once again, as we told you last time, as far as whether you will qualify as her sponsor, you’d need to do a paid consult with my boss, the Guru. He is NOT going to answer such questions on this blog for free, since he’d have to analyze your individualized financial situation anyway as part of a consult.

          John A., Legal Assistant
          GuruImmigration.com

          Like

      • Enrique O. & Hannah R. Says:

        I am a U.s citizen, sorry to add “lpr” i didn’t think it would be ambiguous.

        She entered in 2006.

        Like

  16. quick question Immigration guru. If I came into the country legally switched to a student visa, then won the lottery but the govt forgot to process my file. At the same time they tell me that the processing time for my file elapsed and placed me in removal proceedings. Then I marry a g/f of a long time but they deny the application ultimately because we do not meet the burden of proof. But in the marriage, I fall in love with another woman and we get married after the divorce to the prior wife. Can she file the 1-130 for me? Or at this time is the situation basically pointless. This is just a brief overview of my dilemma. Me and my wife are living together in Fresno Ca, and I know that I will have to come in for a consultation. However I just want to know if it is even worth exploring. Thank you!

    Like

    • This is not a quick question because there are a lot of facts that you have not described that we are not even sure of in reading this. Also, you are in removal proceedings, not a walk in the park. Much harder case than what most people who read this blog encounter since most are not in removal proceedings. You’re right: you need a consultation. Contact the Guru as shown in our Info & Contact.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  17. Hello, Guru

    I hope you could help and give some advice what to do in my case. I got here in US last 2007 with G-5 Visa holder. It’s already expired because it’s only good for 2 years, apparently I’m overstayed now since May 2009. I got married last September 2009 with US citizen. I thought we can work it out our marriage but we didn’t..We are getting divorce by now–it’s so hard to get married with somebody that you feel comfortable and in love with. So, i’m worried about my status now because he always says to me that it might be end up deporting me since we’re going to have divorced. They will trace everything about me..Since we got married we didn’t live together, I used to visit him twice a month or once a month because I work in different state. This divorced thing makes me worried and my status what’s gonna happen to me then? I really don’t wanna get deported..Please, waiting for your advice & suggestions what to do..thank you so much..

    Like

    • I hope you could help and give some advice what to do in my case.

      As my boss, the Guru, always emphasizes when he answers these comments on here, we don’t give advice on this blog to readers since we cannot assume liability for casually providing legal information. This is the internet, after all, not a proper consultation with a lawyer. That said, it is not at all clear from your comment if your husband has ever petitioned for you for a green card. It sounds like you’re just expecting to be legal by being married to him? No! That is obviously not how the law works. If you’ve overstayed the G-5 as you admitted, you are in unlawful status in the United States and are subject to being removed (deported) at any time. Unless you are saying you already got the conditional green card through your husband’s petition within the past 2 years.

      You need to consult with the Guru for a solution. Contact our office by email or call us next week during business hours. Our contact info is at the beginning and end of every article on this blog. The Guru’s consult fees are reasonable.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  18. hi!

    okie here’s my question!

    i came here under k2 visa~ My parents wasn’t able to pay for my papers asap before i turn 21~ so now i got denied because of my age(Age Out) and im also out of status (i overstayed for more than a year). because my dad’s work didn’t pay him off when they went out of business and he was sending money back home to my brother.

    so i met my fiance a year ago~ and now we decided to get married~ we already talked about getting married even before i get denied. I really wanna stay here with him and i cant afford to go back home. even if they ask me to go because i have no family back home. My Mom and brother is here already. though my mom got her green card already and my brother is safe since he filed his papers before he become 21 yrs old. Me and my mom doesn’t have a good relationship ever since i was young (long story) so now I’m on my own and she won’t vouch for me.

    so if i get married and file all the papers asap. will i be able to get EAD? while waiting for my papers? Well even though my EAD from previous application is void. i still used it and was able to work legally. Is it true that i need to go back to my country even after getting married to a US citizen? i don’t want to go back this is my home~ Yes i know i need legal help~ and i want to know how much will it cost me~

    Like

    • As the article explained, if you came with a K-2 visa, you should be able to get your green card, bar any major missteps on your part which we don’t know at this point. You will need good legal representation to make sure the case will go smoothly. Please contact our office this week during business hours (West Coast time) for information on how much the Guru’s fees are to do your case. Our contact info is at the beginning and end of every article here. We can help you even if you are in the State of Tennessee since US immigration law is the same all over the country.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  19. Dear Immigration Guru,

    Wow. This blog is a true help. Thank you for your clear answers! My question(s): I am a US citizen and want to marry my Irish boyfriend, who currently resides in Ireland. He has to travel abroad frequently as a freelance writer and musician. Our options seem to be: 1) applying for a fiance (K1) visa while he is still in Ireland; 2) Marrying when he’s in the US next (five months from now), then adjusting his status as you mention in your article; or 3) marrying when he’s over here on tourist visa, but him going back to Ireland and filing for CR-1 spouse visa. All these options have their pros and cons, but my main concern is which way would allow him to travel outside the US (for his possible freelance work) the soonest? Thank you in advance for your opinion!

    Like

    • You seem to have a handle on the possible options. However, the Guru can only advise you on strategy questions like this during a paid consultation. Please call or email us, as found in the disclaimer at the top of every page of this blog.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  20. Hi, I’m turning 22 in a couple months, I entered the US on a tourist visa when I was 19 intending to get a greencard through my US citizen father. I was in application for nearly a year when the comunication between my father and I broke down. Resulting in a timed out application, due to not handing in certain documents before the time limit was up. And being young and stupid as I was, and wanting to be free of the responsibilty, I went backpacking through the US. Now I’m starting to realize the mistake I made. It seems like all hope is lost to rekindle ties with my father. Though my longtime partner is pretty adamant at the moment to get married and get it sorted out so we can move on with our lives. Do I have a leg to stand on? Thanks immigration guru.

    Like

    • As the article states, any overstay on the tourist visa is not an issue on the green card application if you marry a US citizen, as long as you have not left the US since that initial entry (when you were 19) and came back here somehow.

      Like

      • Thankyou. I was also wondering if it would strengthen my case being that my father is a US citizen an can still financially petition for me, and my girlfriends family can petition for me aswell. Another problem being that my girlfriend is pregnant with my child. Could that cause problems?

        Like

        • You’d have to do a paid consult with us before we could evaluate your individual facts and advise you on what you need to do. Our contact info is at the beginning and end of every article on this blog.

          John A., Legal Assistant
          GuruImmigration.com

          Like

  21. Thank you so much for this blog. I recently married an american Citizen, and am interested in changing my status and applying for a green card.
    I don’t know if this is possible since not only have i overstayed my student Visa and am now out of status, but i also worked illegally. Will i still be in the category of a person who is petitioned for as an Immediate Relative? or does my working illegally prevent me from ever receiving a green card sponsored by my husband?
    Thank you so much for your help.

    Like

    • You should contact us for help even if you’re in the Midwest. We can help you. Your case is possible in the hands of a skillful attorney such as the Guru, but it takes special care and handling due to your unauthorized employment. Please call us at 310.289.2155 during regular business hours (Pacific Time), or email at consult@guruimmigration.com.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  22. I was deported when i was a child (5) and i came back same year, can my citizen wife help me now im 18.

    Like

  23. Magnus Roem Says:

    Hi I came to America in 1991 on a tourist visa and I never left. I’ve met someone I want to marry and I want to know if I will be able to get a greencard since I’ve overstayed my visa for so long.

    Thanks

    M

    Like

    • That’s what the article said.

      You are welcome to contact us for a consultation and for possible representation on a marriage case like this and to learn more about our fees.

      John A., Legal Assistant
      GuruImmigration.com

      Like

  24. Hi. I am 20 yrs old and turning 21 on august 30 2010.and ive been here since may 2003, been overstayed. my dad file the i130 way back and we did get the approval which says that its approved but! not eligible for adjustment of status, and then now i got a letter from nvc, its the aos form with the ds 3032 form. i was wondering.. whats going to happen next? is there a possibility that i can get any luck about my papers?

    Like

    • No, no. The DS-3032 is simply the form that will allow you to designate an address and agent (typically a relative, attorney, or community-based organization based in the U.S.) to which NVC should direct future communications. It’s really kind of a meaningless form.

      It has nothing to do with adjustment of status and that’s not the job of NVC anyway to adjust your status. If you’ve read our article “Who Can Adjust Their Status to Green Card Here!”, then you would have learned that’s the job of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. NVC may well be correct though that you do not qualify for adjustment. We have been saying over and over on this blog that, if 21 or over, even out of status for one day will prevent a son or daughter from adjusting to permanent residence here, you’re out of status for 3 years! That’s the way the law is — there is no other way — you must return to your country to apply and risk the 10-year bar. Unless the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) helps to keep you under 21 (because your father petitioned for you when you were still under 21). The CSPA is a complicated law and you are advised to do a paid consultation with us to see if it will protect you. Please telephone 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration. It’s worth the small fee.

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  25. Hello Guru – I am getting married to my long time (4yr) girlfriend. We are expecting a child in July. She entered on a visa which expired yrs ago. The only problem I can see to her getting residency is my income. I make minimum wage. I used to be a school teacher but stopped teaching for health problems. I am getting better slowly but won’t be able to resume my profession for a year or two. She makes more than I do and has been supporting herself for years (she pays taxes), but I am worried they will look only at my income and deny us especially since there will be a child to support. What do you think?
    Ps – We’re getting married regardless.
    Thank you

    Like

    • Sean, we can help represent you and your girlfriend on this case. First, a joint sponsor who’s a citizen or green-card holder can be used to help you be financially responsible for her. Second is the out-of-status issue which has to be explained but will not be a problem in the hands of our firm. And third, the bona fide marriage issue, which does not seem to be a hurdle at all with a child.

      Please contact our office at 310.289.2155 or consult@GuruImmigration.com for our fees on a case like this.

      Like

  26. Hi,

    I’m a U.S. citizen who wants to marry his F1 fiance, who is apparently out of status, but never notified of such, also her 1-94(?) is valid until August of this year. She consulted a lawyer and said it would be extremely straight forward to get married and get her green card. We have been dating since the end of September. If we do get married, how long before we can file the necessary paperwork and is there any possibility of rejection?

    Thank you for your time.

    Like

  27. Hi, i cam in U.S as a tourist i want to get maried and get a U.S green card but i am still on parol the thing hapened 5 years ago but the finel desition by the cort was half year ago i dont have no more problems after that and five years i didnt do nothing but becouse of realy long prosecution my paroll started half year ago and 4 and a half years more… Do you think that there can be a problem?

    Like

    • There simply is not enough information to say unless you consult with us, especially since you were in removal proceedings until half a year ago. You wouldn’t want us to give an opinion based on half-information gleaned from your blog comment, which could lead to damaging and erroneous advice. Call us at +1 310 2892155 or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

      Like

  28. Hi there, heres my situation that I’m sure you can help me with. I met my love of my life and we married in 2007,she’s american and I’m canadian. She moved to Canada to stay with me on a visitors visa and we were going to file for her to immigrate here but now we’ve decided against it and am hoping to make a life in the states. Our problem is because she was living here she dosent meet the sponsorship requirements financially, but her father would co-sign for sponsorship. The internet is full of so much information were not sure where to start. Do we go to the cbp and ask for a visitors visa for me? I’m so full of immigration alphabets I’ve got a headache lol. Please help

    Like

  29. Hi i read your blog today and i have been fan of your blog. Really nice and state forward answers. Probably i will contact you for my visa process bez i like your way of response . for now my situation is like this: I am on F1 and it will expire on dec 2011 and i am going to marry on next may2010 rto my gf who is green card holder since march 2008 . So can i stay and work in us after my student visa expire if i fill petition for gren card on basis of my spouse..? Is it affect to my green card process if i will stay here with my expired student visa..? plesse give me some suggestion…………..!

    Like

  30. Hi Larry,

    Im gonna get married soon to the love of my life. he’s here in the US with a tourist visa and he really wants to work already. I have a couple of questions in regards to that:

    1. knowing that we can file the i-130 and i-485 at the same time…does that mean he will instantly recieve a visa number?

    2. does that visa number make him eligible for employment here in the US

    3. If not, what will he have to do? And how long does it usually take for the benificiary to get that working permit?

    4. Lastly, aside from the paperwork work and completion of docs…will hiring a lawyer speed up the process?

    Sorry for asking so many questions… i love the way you answer everybodys inquiry… you really are a guru

    Thanks in advance.

    -J-

    Like

    • Jocelyn, the answers to all your questions are “Yes” if you are a U.S. citizen and he came with a tourist visa. Please call us at 310.289.2155 or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration for more information. We can definitely help you even though we understand that you’re in the Bay Area.

      Like

  31. Hi Larry,
    Thanks for your excellent posts. I came to the US from the United Kingdom on an L1-B visa. Halfway through my second L1-B (first one was valid for 3 years and the second valid for 2 years) I quit my job. My understanding was that then invalidated the remaining time on the second visa since I was no longer with the sponsoring employer.

    I left the US and recently re-entered under the Visa waiver rules (90 day stay). I want to stay longer and probably apply a green card as I am in a serious relationship with my US native girlfriend of 18 months.
    If we were to get engaged would that mean I can stay?
    If I were to stay illegally beyond the 90 days the visa waiver allows and we got married, would I fall into the hard case category and have to leave to complete my green card process?

    Once again, thank you for posts and advice.

    Like

    • The I-94 given upon admission on an L-1 visa usually has a definite date that you are authorized to stay until. If you had left the U.S. on or prior to that date BUT had also quit your job prior to that time then you potentially were in violation of the terms of the visa. We are using the term “potentially” because on a non-overstay violation, the unlawful presence does not start until there has been an official finding during the course of deciding an immigration benefit application (i.e., if you had applied for extension or change of status prior to leaving) that you violated status. So, it’s kind of an open question whether you really had accumulated prior unlawful presence of more than 180 days in the U.S. at all. The good news is that since you’re already here on Visa Waiver and are marrying a citizen, you can apply for the green card here without having to leave. But, at the interview, if the officer decides that you had unlawful presence previously on the L-1B then you would have to apply for an extreme hardship waiver to waive the 3- or 10-year bar.

      Our office can assist you with all these applications even if you’re on the East Coast. Please contact us at 310.289.2155 or Lawyer@Guruimmigration.com.

      Like

  32. First Off, I love the compassion you seem to have when answering these questions for everyone. OK, I’m an 18 year old U.S Citizen. My boyfriend is 19 years old. we have been dating for 4 years and want to get married. My Boyfriend came here legally (on a visa) with his parents when he was 11 years old, to visit family. His parents decided to stay and their visa expired. My boyfriend has now graduated from high school, and is now attending community college. Will we have any problems getting his Green Card/Social Security Number?

    Like

  33. Hi Larry,

    My girlfriend and I are wondering whether to get married in the US. I am a Canadian citizen who entered the US with F1 status. We fell in love just before my status expired. Instead of leaving the US, I stayed with her instead. After 10 months after my visa expired, I decided to leave the US to visit my parents by land. I didn’t know anything about having to return the I-94 upon leaving, and have been doing researches about it. The cyberspace hearsay seems to be that if the I-94 came with a D/S (Duration of Status) stamp, then the 180 day of overstay grace period does not start until an official or a judge order me out of the country. I am planning to mail back the I-94 along with proof that I am at least outside of the US, and will attempt to reenter the US in December. In your opinion, do we have a chance getting married in the US and adjust my status if I am able to reenter(or maybe I won’t be able to at all), or should I tell my girlfriend to put on a sweater and leave for Canada? Thank you in advance.

    Like

    • The cyberspace hearsay seems to be that if the I-94 came with a D/S (Duration of Status) stamp, then the 180 day of overstay grace period does not start until an official or a judge order me out of the country.

      Interesting way you put it as “cyberspace hearsay,” but it’s not hearsay or just someone’s opinion. If these message boards and forums discussing U.S. immigration would go to the source, they would find that it’s embodied in USCIS’s interpretation of the relevant statutes in the Immigration & Nationality Act. Anyway, on visas with duration of status such as F-1, the unlawful presence does not start until there has been an official finding during the course of deciding an immigration benefit application that you violated status (not ordering you out of the country — that would be a removal order). We obviously don’t have the details from your case (unless there is a consultation), but it would appear that you would not be deemed to have overstayed by 10 months because there was no previous application you applied for where they found that, such as a change of status application, extension of status, etc.

      Like

  34. Hello,

    My name is Gabriel, and came to Orlando FL, together with my children in the age of 7 years, 14 years and 19 years to visit Disney World, we lived in hotel for 3 months after I met an American citizen and we wish to marry. visa that I entered the U.S. is for 10 years B1/B2, the 6 months expires on November 9, 2009, do you think we have problems at the immigration office? It is possible to represent as a lawyer?
    Thank you

    Like

    • You and your children (except for the 19-year old since he/she is already over 18 after the marriage and so not considered a stepchild of the U.S. citizen) are eligible to apply for green card after your marriage but must be careful that this is a genuine marriage, and not one done for the purpose of getting immigration benefits. Immigration will question you closely since you just met this American citizen.

      We can represent you in the USCIS Orlando office, definitely. You should have representation, since playing around with this without a lawyer will jeopardize your chances of staying in the U.S. Please call 310.289.2155 for more information, or email us at Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

      Like

  35. Jonathan Landucci Says:

    Hi my name is Jonathan and im an F1 student, i married my fiancee and have been married for about 1 month i wanted to know how i would go about changing my status, and how much do you charge because i am looking for a good lawyer to represent me and i hear your the best, i don’t want anything to go wrong because i really want to stay here with my fiancee and go through the process together, will i be able to do that and do i have to take classes next semester since i don’t want to waste money i dont have to spend, if you can get back to me as soon as possible that would be great. Thanks in advance

    Like

  36. hey im lio and i am from india and my gf is from GA,USA
    and we been dating on internet from last 12 months and now we wanna live with each other, so we decided to get marry ,so my question will be ..HOW MUCH TIME IT WILL TAKE FOR ME TO GET A GREEN CARD ?
    and
    AT WHAT VISA I CAN STEP INTO AMERICA ?

    Like

    • This is a fiance visa situation. However, she would have to go to India first and visit you as there is a meeting-in-person requirement first before that visa can be applied for. That will take 6 months to a year. After arrival in the U.S. with the fiance visa, you have 90 days to marry or else have to leave the U.S. After marriage, you can apply for the green card, which takes another 6 months or so. Please call 310.289.2155 to discuss our firm’s rates for helping your girlfriend with the fiance visa.

      Like

  37. Hello,

    Here is my situation. I have been in US for over eight yeas now. Came to the country legally on F1 student visa. Last december (2008) was the last time I was in school…got married to us citizen in january of 09 and applied for adjustment of status in may of 2009. USCIS received my application a week later and 10 days later I received all receipts from them. About 10 days later I got call from ICE to come in their office. I went there and they told me that I am out of status since end of december 2008 and they put me into proceedings. I am wondering why they did this after I have applied for AOS??? They also told me to bring in my marriage license, my taxes, and my passport. My spouse was also with me. in september of 2009 I have appeared in front of immigration judge and he granted me an extension until end of january 2010. Right after court I’ve received notice to come for I130 interview to USCIS office in october. Last week I’ve got notice from USCIS saying that they can’t process my I485, and just a couple days ago my I130 interview was cancelled. As far as I was told the entire case is moved to the immigration court and I have to reapply through this institution although immigration judge can not approved my I130. In the same time he can not approve I485 either without I30 being approved. USCIS has moved my case to their local office. My lawyer says that is just matter of time and that we have to be patient. Isn’t US Immigration law to waive any unlawful presence if married to US citizen (immediate relative)???? If this is a legit US immigration law how come something like this could possibly happened???

    Thank You, we really appreciate your time and effort.

    Like

    • Lisa, I simply do not have the time on this blog to analyze your individual immigration situation for free, especially since you have a lawyer representing you currently. Why not be up front and say you want a second opinion from me? Besides, I cannot treat you with the same standard of care as when you’re my client. Read my policy on this blog. I can only answer here very simple questions in order to clarify topics covered in my blog articles. If you want your situation carefully looked at and have a professional opinion, you’d need to retain me for a consultation. Call my office at 310.289.2155.

      Guru Larry

      Like

  38. Hello!!
    I really like the way you answer every question straight to the point. Thank you for doing such a great job. My boyfriend and I just got married, and he is an american citizen; i entered the US with an H2B visa and it expired today and we want to start the process.. I would like to know if you have any offices in southwest florida (naples)?

    Like

    • Thank you, Susan. Yes, I answer things straight to the point, I guess, because that’s just the way my mind works. I could help you and your boyfriend even though I do not have an office in Florida. However, the process is exactly the same with immigration law all over the U.S. so I could still represent you with the paperwork in the USCIS office in Tampa or Miami. Please call my office at 310.289.2155 or email at Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com for more info.

      Guru Larry

      Like

  39. to deep in it to win it ? Says:

    Hi,
    First of all great blog 🙂

    Now on to the matter at hand. I have entered USA december 2007 on student visa, unfortunately I got robbed and I didn’t have money to pay for second semester and I was on the dean’s list. Since then, on October 27th 2008 my visa status had been revoked. Fastforward to February 2009, I got caught and held by DHS and I got released 6days after because my mom’s godmother guaranteed for me. I appeared when I was supposed to and I got letter to appear at court hearing on May 14th unfortunately money problems and the fact that my mom’s godmother didn’t want to give me a lift to the courthouse which is one hour drive away I failed to appear. Two days later I got a letter saying that I have to leave and I have 180days to appeal. Since then I tried to find some proof of why I didn’t appear and unfortunately only exceptional things could help me, like illness and death in family. So, in the meantime I met this girl and I really love her but obviously she is US citizen and marrying her would solve my problem or would it? The thing is I am currently classified as fugitive. So, my question is what can I do, should I marry her and change my status that way, will that require me to go back to my home country or what?

    Thank You for help either way 🙂

    Like

    • I could be wrong but I sense that you don’t realize how serious your situation is: you have been ordered removed from the United States (deported is an obsolete term) for failure to show up to court. You did your own research and so could see that there was no legitimate excuse for not showing up to court because you couldn’t get a ride! A marriage will not help you when there’s a removal order on your records. You might have a chance to reapply through a wife, but only after 10 years of being outside the U.S. Otherwise, staying here just means you have a removal order against you and could be taken into custody at any time by ICE and put on a plane in order to execute the removal order against you.

      Guru Larry

      Like

      • to deep in it to win it ? Says:

        Thanks for Your reply. I understand I am to deep in You know what, so my next question if You could answer me is , is there any way for me to be deported anywhere else, like Canada, because I really really really really don’t want to go back to my “home” country and wait 10years or even 10days, everything there is to expensive, the educational system is corrupted, the government is corrupter and last I heard on the news is that “my” country is going into cooperation with North Korea, so if I had like $15000 could I get deported into Canada, or something like that?

        BTW I know this question is unrelated to the blog so if You can’t answer me directly I would appreciate some link to some website that has more details or something like that, but again if You can’t help me in either way , I understand , the fact that You gave me some reply to my previous post means that You are good guy 🙂

        Thank again, whatever Your response may be.

        Cheers.

        Like

        • Thanks. I’m not sure what your “home” country is (South Korea?). But anyway, no, the U.S. cannot remove you to a third country like Canada unless you have a legal right to residence there. So, maybe you should apply for residency there just in case.

          This is where I answer questions directly. I’m not a big fan of having links with more details elsewhere because it would be impossible to cover all the possible immigration topics and, more importantly, it would not be possible to have individualized interactions.

          Guru Larry

          Like

          • to deep in it to win it ? Says:

            Thank You very much for answering my questions. Also, no I’m not from South Korea 🙂

            Like

          • to deep in it to win it ? Says:

            Hi, Sorry to bother You again but 🙂

            The thing is that I have come to know around 10 American citizens if not more that are trying to help me out regarding my situation. The thought popped out is there any way that signed petition by my American friends could help? I mean all of them are highly educated, they have family and jobs, some of them are working on getting phd and I was wondering could they help in some way, because I’m not one of those illegals who are only socializing with their sort, and it must have some meaning if there are respectable American citizens that are ready to guarantee for me, right? Also, I’m not some stupid fellow, I am computer genius and I was on Dean’s list for crying out loud, doesn’t that count for something?

            I don’t think that I will come with any better idea than this one, so I wont bother You again 🙂

            Like

          • We operate under a system of law in this country. You have a removal order against you. To rescind or reverse the removal order, legal process was available and must be followed, but in your case, it is now too late and you have no such recourse. Regular people cannot do anything to help you with your removal order. Sympathetic factors are listened to by U.S. immigration judges, of course, but that should have been done BEFORE you became deported. The place to do that was IN court. You had your chances to appear in court. For whatever reason, the court date was not very important to you so now you pay the consequences. There are about 600,000 or so people with outstanding removal orders in the U.S. like you who haven’t left, and each one of them could make the same argument about how they are a genius at whatever they do (well, almost) or that they’re valued members of their families and communities here. Sorry to be so harsh but you’re wasting your and your friend’s time. Try a congressman or a Senator instead. They might be able to help although they too are swamped with hundreds of similar requests, believe me. If you make your case enough into a media circus and attracts media attention, that could sometimes work. C’est la vie in America today!

            Like

          • to deep in it to win it ? Says:

            Thanks regardless. You aren’t being too harsh, except for the part where You said that I didn’t find appearing in a court important. I did know that and I knew that I’d be in a world of trouble, and I am mostly angry at the fact that people that guaranteed for me are the ones who didn’t want to give me a lift to the hearing. I mean they were here working under the table and somehow they got green cards, I have no idea how nor they are telling, and those are the people from my own country. So what can I tell about my countrymen who didn’t want to help me, am I suppose to return there?! The “good” thing is that certain countries like Singapore, Laos, France and similar EU countries accept my passport without need for a visa, but regardless I felt like I finally came home when I arrived here, I’m just pissed off because everything was going fine until my sister and her boyfriend decided to take all my money. Shoot I don’t even have where to come back, my house is sold and someone else has moved in, my “family” …. well considering that no one had $15000 on their bank accounts so I could just show it to a community college and get back in before I was cought, I think that tells everything. My father didn’t contact me in 5months and I’m pretty much screwed. I’m gonna try the Canada idea, or Senator idea, I pray but still nothing. Pray for me.

            Keep up the great blog 🙂

            Like

  40. Hi, Great information here. I think your article has answered my question but I would like to confirm and wonder what my next steps should be, Possibly hire a lawyer…

    My boyfriend came to the US on a tourist Visa, which expried about two months ago, we currently live together and would like to get married. Should we get married and then start the process of immigration? What are our next steps?

    Thanks for any information you can provide!

    Like

    • Marie, there’s no question that I always recommend a lawyer to handle everything. The next step for you is to get married before you can help your boyfriend – only spouses can help each other, not domestic partners or people just dating. After that, our law firm takes care of the process seamlessly for our clients so they don’t really need to be concerned with the details. All they need to know is that the U.S. citizen will petition for the spouse’s green card, and our law firm will guide you every step of the way. If you’re local here in Southern California, we represent you during the interview to make sure the USCIS officer does not harass you or ask the wrong questions. If you’re out of state, we prepare all the paperwork, put together all the supporting evidence, so you can go to the interview by yourself or hire local counsel to represent you just during the interview, although I have been flown out by clients for their interviews.

      Please call my office at 310.289.2155 if you’re interested in retaining us.

      Guru Larry

      Like

  41. Great site…keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,

    A definite great read.. 🙂

    -Bill-Bartmann

    Like

  42. I have been a Green Card holder since 1998. I am currently in the process of applying for citizenship. The application asks about my spouse’s immigration status, but my wife entered the country on a visa waiver program from Switzerland (she is a Swiss citizen)and got checked in at the airport 6 years ago and we have a 5 years old son with a heart condition. My questions are:

    1. What should I put on the application for my citizenship?
    2. If I put in her real status, will she get in trouble?
    3. Once and if my application is approved, can I apply for her Green Card?

    Please advise ASAP!

    Thanks

    Like

    • Yes you should put her true status. Why would you want to hide anything? Immigration finds out eventually and putting false information will be considered fraud and could hurt her immigration later. And yes, once you become a citizen, she can adjust her status.

      Guru Larry

      Like

  43. Hello my name iS cynthia and i am 18 years old and my parents brought me at the age of 3 years old they brought me through my cusins passport and ever since i lived here in the US at age 15 i met the love of my life my boyfriend which is a US citizen born and raised here and we have a son together a 2 year baby boy so my boyfriend suggsuted to get married and file to get my permanent residence card but im not sure if that is even possile at all to do that and im still working on school so please give advice

    Like

    • Cynthia, what do you mean exactly by they brought you here through your cousin’s passport — you mean you assumed your cousin’s identity? Also, passport would not have allowed a person entry to the U.S. Are you referring to a visa that your cousin was issued?

      Guru

      Like

      • Well i ask my dad he said he brought me with my cousin’s birth certificate and that about it they didn’t ask for much back then yea i was 3 year then though

        Like

  44. Hi,

    I am a US citizen and my now wife came here on a student visa which is still valid for several more months. We recently filed the I-130/I-485 forms but do not have a response yet.

    The school semester is about to start and we are wondering if she will need to take classes this semester to mainstain good status on the student visa? The school said that they would report to USCIS if she does not sign up for classes this semester.

    Does she need to continue taking classes until we hear back about the I-130/I-485 forms, is it better to continue classes, or how long will she need to continue classes for?

    Thank you for all your help.

    Like

    • Dennis,

      I don’t know if you hired a lawyer to do the paperworks but I get the receipt back within 10 days on these cases. This is why I recommend that people always use a lawyer for something as valuable as this, a green card application. Mistakes can be made too easily and a lawyer usually has better accountability and resources to find out what happened when things go wrong and fix them.

      A student visa-holder is out of status when she is no longer taking classes or pursuing the education program she’s here to pursue. Because of the uncertainty in knowing whether USCIS has even received your wife’s adjustment application and uncertainties regarding whether it’ll be ultimately approved, I would say it’s probably better that your wife stay in-status by going back to classes. I can’t give legal advice on specific individual cases here, just general legal information on my blog. The decision is up to her. If the adjustment is denied, she will be placed into removal (deportation) proceedings if she’s out-of-status. If she’s in-status, then she’ll be OK and perhaps a new adjustment application could be filed with USCIS. Even if she’s put into proceedings, she can renew her adjustment application in front of the judge but the fees charged by lawyers for representing her (or I should say, litigating) will be quite high, so it’s better to do it with USCIS.

      Guru

      Like

  45. Thanks for answering me (at the wrong post) sorry.

    So, I can just follow the list and fill all the documents (I-130 + G 325 each). I mean, do you think I can have any problem if I do exactly what they are asking for?

    I put me case in a lowyer hands one year ago, and las month she told me that is more complicated that she think so she can’t do it (she said that I overestayed my visa for more than one year so I have to aply for another visa to be elegible for residency, I told her that in my case I’m married with a US citizen for over 4 years, that make more easy to get those documents…)
    What you think I should do?

    What is my status right now, I’m ligaly? I have more worries now because I’m pregnant and I don’t want to take any chances. 😦

    Thanks for your help.
    LS

    Like

    • LS,

      I blog to give people some straight-talk and plain info on the complex U.S. immigration process, which is unnecessarily complicated in my opinion. However, there are some situations where it’s better to have an attorney handle things. This is one such situation. People don’t believe me when I tell them, “Yes, you can fill these forms out by yourself but one or two mistakes easily made will delay your case for many months if not years.” Then it happens and they believe and hire me to fix the case. I would highly recommend you hiring a lawyer, even if only to put the forms and evidence together in a nice package for you and not represent you at the interview. It’s not just the forms — they’re only for starters. The supporting documentations you must submit are just as, if not more, important. But you already hired a lawyer before, I think you know what I’m talking about.

      The good news is, I think that lawyer is wrong. You are eligible for green card now even if you overstayed your tourist visa. You married a U.S. citizen and so you are considered an immediate relative as I described in this blog post. I don’t know if that lawyer even practiced immigration law! You can ask for another immigration lawyer’s opinion and the answer will be the same. Please really consider hiring another lawyer or even myself to help you on this important application so you don’t have to worry anymore!

      Guru

      Like

  46. Dana, as I explained in this blog entry, you do qualify for the green card if you marry your boyfriend because you entered on a visa. And yes, you have overstayed your tourist visa when the change-of-status was denied. However, if you have a sincere and bona fide relationship with your boyfriend so that the marriage is legit, your overstaying will not be an issue.

    As you can see, I really try to provide plain-spoken information on this blog about immigration law. But, I also think it’s important for cases to be done right and thus, I always recommend using the services of a qualified immigration attorney. It is just too easy in this tough environment we’re in right now for USCIS to deny cases by people who do it themselves, especially when mistakes happen.

    Best,

    Guru

    Like

  47. Hi,I arrived here last Dec ’07 on a tourist visa. My visa expired March ’08. I turned 21 May last year that’s why I think they didn’t give me a longer one like my sisters. Before it expired I applied for change of status for school and got denied which they were at fault. They claimed not to have received the additional papers they asked. I have the photocopy of the receipt from the post office so they granted to re-open the case again. I had to pay for it. We went through the whole process again. I decided to go to another school so I didn’t send them the papers they asked so I got denied. I received the letter from them last Feb ’09 that I got denied.
    Right now, I think I’m officially illegal since I’ve been overstaying. My boyfriend who is a US citizen suggested we get married. He wants to help me.I’m quite apprehensive about this.What makes me consider doing this is my family. My whole family lives here. I believe all of them are dependent to my dad. I really couldn’t care less about being banned from this country. I just don’t want not to see my family for a long time esp my parents since I know my siblings will go visit me in Manila or in London.Will I get a green card if I marry my boyfriend? We’ve been dating for 3 months now. I’m really surprised that he’s offering me this.

    Like

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