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Can I Avoid Being Deported by Marrying a U.S. Citizen?

In Hollywood films such as The Proposal and Green Card, the topic of foreigners getting married to American citizens to avoid getting deported from the United States is given a romantic comedy treatment. Since these are feel-good movies, the marriages portrayed start off as zany and borderline fraudulent, but the characters end up as cute couples who realize they made the right choice after all. The reality for many foreigners who face deportation is that a sudden marriage does present an opportunity to prevent removal in some instances, but the process is certainly not like a romantic comedy.

Limitations of Marriage as a Defense in Deportation Proceedings

Immigration attorneys who have analyzed the films mentioned above point out that the foreigners weren’t in positions to be rounded up by immigration agents and taken into custody. Getting a Notice to Appear because of an expired visa or a negative adjudication issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) isn’t a reason to think about marriage. The right course of action is to let an immigration law firm review the case and evaluate the possible outcomes. Even being married to an American citizen and having a green card won’t completely exclude someone from deportation. However, those are points in favor of being allowed to stay. The same can be said about getting married to U.S. citizens during immigration proceedings, but it needs to be evaluated critically and handled carefully.

Key Factors for Marriage to Be an Affirmative Defense to Removal

Marriage in the middle of the deportation process can be an affirmative defense to removal, but only if it can form the basis of an adjustment of status petition. To do this, the following must be observed:

  • No unlawful entry – Undocumented immigrants who crossed the border illegally cannot stop removal through this process.
  • No marriages of convenience – USCIS adjudicators will surely pay more attention to immigrants who get married during deportation, and they’ll look for signs of fraudulent relationships.
  • Difficulty during detention – Getting a bond to leave immigration detention centers is often easier for immigrants who intend to get married. Your San Diego immigration attorney can file a motion to set a bond based on the likelihood that Form I-130 can be completed and submitted for a future adjustment of status.

Proving Eligibility: Form I-130 & Form I-485

In and of itself, getting married doesn’t stop or slow down deportation. What matters in this case is proving to the court that the immigrant is entitled to file Form I-130 and later Form I-485. This lets the judge know removal doesn’t apply unless the petitions are rejected. Once the adjustment of status is approved, all previous deportation notices no longer hold any weight. 

Adjustment of Status beyond Marriage

With this in mind, adjustment of status isn’t limited to marriage. Some immigrants may be able to seek other strategies suggested by immigration lawyers. There are also waivers and even dismissals of removal orders that could be pursued instead of hasty marriages. This is particularly the case when a previous determination of admissibility has been made. 

For more information on issues such as citizenship, naturalization, and family-based immigration, San Diego residents should reach out to the experienced immigration attorneys at KS Visa Law. Call us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

April 2024