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Is resident status automatic after marrying a U.S. citizen?

If you are about to marry a U.S. citizen or have already married one, you may be wondering whether you automatically become a legal U.S. resident once the marriage is official.

The answer is no, but seeking that residency status should be a relatively simple process.

What could make for a somewhat "bumpy" road

Several issues could present upfront problems in your journey toward residency status. For example, if you entered the country without first obtaining the proper documentation, or you have allowed your visa to expire, you must go through a waiver process before you can apply for residency status. 

Now for a few more potential bumps: If you are not legally eligible to marry, for example, if you have entered into a marriage in your home country, such an issue could snag your application. There may also be challenges if you only recently met your spouse. Knowing him or her for a mere six months may raise eyebrows whereas knowing him or her for at least two years is less likely to do so.

Your spouse must sponsor your application, so if, for whatever reason, your spouse does not wish for you to become a U.S. resident, obtaining it could be problematic. What could also be a problem is if your spouse's primary residence is not in the United States or if your spouse plans an international move soon. As with many immigration issues, a lawyer can help you assess what is going on and present you with options.

If you have children (who are not your spouse's children), it is also possible for them to obtain residency.

Be cautious if the marriage does not seem to be working out

It can be tricky to obtain a divorce and stay a U.S. resident if your resident status is still conditional, as it will be for the first two years. It is much easier to obtain a permanent green card if your marriage has lasted two years and you have documentation that you and your spouse entered into the relationship for honest, loving purposes.

If you are about to marry a U.S. citizen or have already married one, you may be wondering whether you automatically become a legal U.S. resident once the marriage is official.

The answer is no, but seeking that residency status should be a relatively simple process.

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Encino, CA 91436

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