Can you avoid deportation by marrying a U.S. Citizen?

The answer is yes . . . and no.  Let me explain.

First, if you get married after the government has initiated deportation proceedings, you will have to overcome the presumption that your marriage is sham and that the only reason you got married was to avoid being deported.  Before you can even apply for your green card, you’ll have to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that your relationship was entered into in good faith, and not under marriage fraud.

Many people get green cards through marriage.  However, the process for getting a green card through marriage while facing deportation is totally different.  You’ll have to file a stand-only I-130 visa petition and specifically request, IN WRITING, an exemption based on a good-faith marriage.  And you can file your I-485 visa petition, if, and only if, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve your I-130 visa petition.

Finally, even if USCIS grants and approves your I-130 petition, you are still under scrutiny.   You’ll have to have an adjustment of status interview before an Immigration Judge who will independently review whether your relationship is a fraud.    This hearing is generally adversarial.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is represented by experienced trial attorneys skilled at the art of cross-examination and  will convince the presiding Judge that your marriage is a fraud.   USCIS doesn’t take marriage fraud lightly.   If you are caught, the penalties are severe; you’ll be barred from future visa petitions and face criminal fines of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment.

Here’s the bottom-line:  if you are required to appear in Immigration Court and considering marriage as a way to avoid deportation, you should consult with an effective immigration lawyer with considerable experience in courtroom advocacy.  Call me at 713.850.0066 to discuss your immigration case.

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