If I want to be legal through marriage, should I get married first or apply first and then get married?

What’s the cost of the process?

Asked on October 23, 2011 under Immigration Law, South Carolina


SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It really depends on your current situation and you do not provide enough information to get an accurate response.  If you are in the country unlawfully because you entered unlawfully, you cannot legalize your status on the basis of marriage within the US.  You would have to go back to your home country to consular process but depending on the length of your unlawful presence in the US, you could be barred from reentry for a period of 10 years unless you can get a waiver (which is rather difficult).  If you entered the US lawfully but overstayed, you may be eligible for adjustment of status to permanent residence on the basis of marriage but you would obviously have to be married first and have to prove your lawful entry.

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