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Married to a U.S. Citizen? You Might Be Able to Adjust to Legal Status without Leaving the Country

One way to Adjust Status to permanent residence status in the United States is by marriage to a U.S. Citizen.  Through adjustment of status, an undocumented person may achieve permanent residence status without returning to his/her native country to consular process.  This has many benefits, such as not having to trigger the unlawful presence “bars” by leaving the country.  But not everyone qualifies for this priviledge.  The first qualification for adjustment of status is that you last entered the United States on some sort of legal visa and inspection by a U.S. Immigration Officer.  This can be a visitors visa, student visa, guest worker, etc.  Even if you overstayed your permitted length of stay, by entering with inspection and marrying a U.S. Citizen you become an immediate relative, and are thereby meet the first qualification.  The second qualification is that you must be “admissible.”  By “admissible”, that  means you have no criminal history, among other things, that would fall under the enumerated grounds of “inadmissibility.”  Previous negative immigration history such as prior orders of removal could bar you from adjusting status.   If you do apply to adjust status through marriage, then you must be prepared to prove that your marriage was bona fide and not contracted solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit. If you have previously filed to adjust status through a previous marriage, and your application was denied because USCIS determined that marriage was fraud, then you likely will be prohibited from adjusting status through a subsequent marriage.  Adjustment of Status can be complicated and there are many pitfalls in the process.  Seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in family immigration to help you apply with the proper evidence for a successful application.

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