Spousal Relationships

The spousal relationship is one of the most common and easiest ways to immigrate to the U.S. Spouses of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives and there are no quotas on the amount of visas in this category. As a result, the spouse will have an immediately available visa number.

If the non-citizen spouse is in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission, the spouse may file for an immigrant visa and permanent residence in one petition package called a “one-step.” Upon applying for the visa petition and adjustment of status to permanent residence, the spouse may obtain work authorization, and, in certain circumstances, travel permission. As long as the spouse made a lawful entry into the U.S., the spouse will be forgiven for most other “status-related” immigration violations such as work without authorization and overstaying a period of authorized stay.

For a marriage to be considered valid

It must meet the following criteria:

  1. The marriage must have been valid at the time it was performed;
  2. The marriage must still be in existence at the time the immigration process in completed (and not just when the application is submitted); and
  3. The marriage must not have been entered into for immigration purposes.

Violence Aganinst Women Act

If an immigrant has been subjected to battery or extreme cruelty she may qualify to “self-petition” for lawful permanent residence or may qualify for a different type of cancellation of removal. Deportation cancellation under this category requires the individual to show:

  1. 3 years of continuous physical presence;
  2. That he or she is the victim of battery or extreme cruelty; and
  3. Extreme hardship to the applicant him or herself or to a spouse, parent or child who is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident.