Adjustment of Status for Undocumented Immigrants Married to U.S. Citizen in the Military

September 21, 2012 | Legal Permanent Residents (LPR)

Q.  I am unsure of how to even ask the question. I don’t know anything about the immigration laws, but I have heard of other marines being able to get their spouse U.S. citizenship. I am a former U.S. Marine. I got out around 2004 and met my wife in 2005. We have been married for seven years now and have two kids. I have been trying hard to get my wife to be legal so we can stop living in fear of her deportation. She was brought here when she was around eight by her parents, illegally. She attended elementary school and finished High School. Never been in trouble with the law or gotten any tickets. I have talked to a lawyer and it seems that they just want their money and won’t give me any other information other than “she needs to go back and wait.” My family cannot be broken up, it would tear us apart. We just don’t know what else to do. All she wants to do is to be able to work, legally, and help provide for our kids. Is there anything that we aren’t seeing? Any information can help us out.

A. While the law does not provide special benefits to your wife because you were in the Marines, she nevertheless has a path to legal status. Before she can become a U.S. citizen, she must first become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The problem you write about, that you wife would have to go home to wait to get residence should be solved by a new procedure that should go into effect before the end of the year.

Under the new procedures, your wife can apply for a waiver of the “unlawful presence” bar to permanent residence while here in the United States. She needs the waiver because she has been here unlawfully for more than a year. Without the waiver, she would need to stay abroad for ten years. Current procedures require that she apply for the waiver only after leaving the United States. When the new procedure takes effect, your wife will be able to apply for an unlawful presence waiver and wait here for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to approve it. If USCIS approves it, she would need to return to her country for a week or so only. Just long enough for her to attend an interview and receive her visa.