Can Marrying a U.S. Citizen Help an Undocumented Immigrant Get a Green Card?
You may be wondering whether marrying a U.S. citizen can help an undocumented immigrant gain a green card. In fact, this topic is commonly misunderstood. Many people mistakenly believe that marrying a U.S. citizen can be a quick fix to just about any immigration problem, but in reality, a lot of complicated issues can arise.
Change in Status
In certain circumstances, it is possible that marriage to a U.S. citizen can affect a change in status for an undocumented immigrant, allowing them to get a green card. However, specific criteria must be met. The biggest barrier to most undocumented immigrants is that in order to receive a change in status they must have entered the country legally. This means they must have entered the country on a valid visa and been inspected by an immigration officer. Whether they have overstayed their visa is actually less relevant than whether they had a visa when they entered. In fact, an immigrant on an overstayed visa can still qualify for an adjustment in status.
Marrying a U.S. citizen puts undocumented immigrants in a very helpful category by making them an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. This is relevant because there are an unlimited number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens each year. Most other categories, such as those for immediate relatives of U.S. permanent residents, have only a limited number of visas available and currently only get you on a waitlist.