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Green Card Through Marriage? Not So Fast...

So much has been said and published lately about immigration law, yet it seems to me that many people are still grossly misinformed. While the internet is a great source of information, relying on legal information from a website/blog/social network as the only source of legal advice can cause serious problems. You do not know if the information is correct, or even up-to-date.

Yet, when it comes to immigration law, many people seem to think it must be simple since it is mostly form-based. That is not the case! The underlying laws frequently are very complex. Immigration laws are also constantly changing. Making a mistake can result in postponement or denial of the sought immigration benefit, even facing deportation (removal). So why is it that when it comes to immigration, everyone is an expert, be it a nice lady in a travel agency or an accountant brother of your dentist?

For whatever reason, many people seem to think that if you are an illegal immigrant, to legitimize your stay, all you have to do is marry a U.S. citizen. Marriage alone is not going to take care of your immigration problem! First of all, the marriage is supposed to be legitimate, because the couple may need to subsequently prove that the marriage is genuine, and was entered into not as a way to evade immigration regulations and laws. Second of all, one does not become a citizen or even a green card holder automatically upon marriage to a citizen. There is a process of applying, processing and (hopefully) eventual approval – that’s provided that you are eligible. Think about it this way: if you buy yourself a scratch-off lottery ticket and win $5,000.00 – unless you turn that ticket in, all you have is a piece of paper, not a pile of cash!  Marriage alone does not confer citizenship or a green card, and the entire process takes quite a lot of time and money.