If I am a naturalized US citizen and my “undocumented” girlfriend and I got married in hopes of receiving her citizenship, what is the next step to take?

UPDATED: Jan 22, 2012

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If I am a naturalized US citizen and my “undocumented” girlfriend and I got married in hopes of receiving her citizenship, what is the next step to take?

We are both college students and live in different states. I was told that we must also show proof that we are residing together and that we must also have a linked bank account. Is this true? We have been dating for 4 years now and in order for her to graduate from college, it is required that she has her citizenship. We got married a few weeks ago and would like to receive some consultation and advice as to what our next step should be.

Asked on January 22, 2012 under Immigration Law, New Jersey


SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, all that evidence of the bona fide marriage is one thing but if she is undocumented, the most critical question is how she entered the US.  This is because if she entered the US lawfully and simply overstayed, she will be eligible for adjustment of status on the basis of marriage to a US citizen, but if she entered the US unlawfully, under the current immigration laws, she cannot do it within the US.  She would have to go back to her home country for consular processing but departing the US will cause her to automatically trigger a 10 year bar to reentry which can only be waived by a showing of extreme hardship to a US citizen spouse, and this is very difficult in most cases.


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