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ICE Wants to Deport Me: Is It Too Late to Marry a U.S. Citizen?

a couple holding hands with an engagement ring

Non-citizens constantly fear being detained by ICE and being deported. If you currently face deportation, but you’ve been in a romantic relationship with a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident who you’ve thought of marrying, you might be wondering if tying the knot would actually help. Our Orange County immigration attorneys explain if marrying a U.S. citizen during a deportation proceeding would help or if it would be too late.

Getting Married During Removal Proceedings

In some cases, it is possible to get lawful permanent residence in the United States through marriage after immigration proceedings have started. This will greatly depend on whether the non-citizen is being held in detention.

A judge might grant release upon payment of a bond, and if you can afford to pay, it might be the time to get married. However, if the non-immigrant is not granted bail, it will be difficult to orchestrate a marriage while one person is in detention. Non-immigrants might not be eligible for a bond if they have an outstanding order of removal or if they committed a crime.

Non-Citizens Cannot Adjust Status in Immigration Court Proceedings

People who entered the U.S. legally and married a U.S. citizen during their immigration proceedings can adjust their status in the country. However, those who entered the United States illegally (for example, cross the border away from the checkpoint area) cannot adjust their status. They would need to handle their marriage visa application at a U.S. consulate in their home country.

Proving that the Marriage is Bona Fide

Another challenge you may encounter while trying to get married after immigration proceedings is demonstrating that your marriage is “bona fide.” Bonafide means that your marriage is real and is not a sham or fraud to get a green card. This is something every couple must demonstrate when applying for a marriage visa.

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will likely have the presumption that you are getting married only so that you can gain immigration status. You would need an experienced immigration attorney on your side to help you develop a strong case.

Contact us today at (949) 478-4963 for a consultation!


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