Ep. 21 Overstayed visa and now married to an American Citizen. Can She Still Get Green Card?

  • Overstayed visa and now married to a US citizen. Can she still get a green card?
  • Despite overstaying visa, someone who is married to a US citizen may be able to legalize his/her status.
  • The key is the proper inspection at the port of entry
  • Any criminal offense or fraud may subject to bars

Raw Tramscript:

Introduction: You ask we answer your immigration questions. Simple. And now your host immigration lawyer Jacob Sapochnick.

Jacob: Hello everybody to another episode of Ask An Immigration Lawyer.

I’m excited because we’re getting a lot of questions on Facebook and in Twitter. This question today is very, very common one. The question is I’m married to a US citizen but I came to United States more than 10 years ago and overstayed my visa.

So, this is a very common scenario when somebody comes here on a student visa or work visa and then they overstay beyond the allowed period of time to stay here. So in this case the person overstayed beyond the I94 issued to them at the port of entry and now after almost 10 years of being unlawfully present in the US they married a US citizen and they would like to be able to get their green card.

Well, the good news is that if somebody is married to a US citizen, even if they overstayed all these years, it is possible to legalize themselves and get their status. The key here is proper inspection at the port of entry. Meaning that entry in the US, being checked by a customs official, getting I94 or a verification in their passport that they were inspected. This is the key. So even though you overstayed and even if you worked illegally that can all be waived at the end of the interview. If all goes well and they can prove that the marriage is bonafide you’re going to be able to get your green card.

But it’s important to remember that any other grounds of [inaudible 00:01:51] like criminal offences or fraud [inaudible 00:01:54] presentation, those can be subject to bars. If somebody for example left the country and reentered after being illegally present here for more than a year, even if they marry a US citizen now they still may need some sort of a waiver to be able to stay.

But as a whole, an overstay, as long as the entry was legal can be waived by marriage to a US citizen.

Thank you for listening. Please keep sending your questions, askanimmigrationlawyer.com. In the comments or send us an email. And we welcome your questions. Very simple. You ask, we answer, simple. Look forward to seeing you at our next episode.

Closing: Thank you for listening to the Ask My Immigration Lawyer Podcast, the show that’s dedicated to answering your immigration questions. Simple as that. See you next week for another round of questions and much needed answers.