Can Marriage Stop Deportation?

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Exploring Immigration Benefits

Facing deportation can be terrifying, and you might wonder, “Can marriage stop deportation?” Marrying a U.S. citizen can affect your immigration status, but it doesn’t automatically prevent deportation. Immigration laws are complex, and couples must carefully navigate them to ensure a stable future without fearing separation.

Many believe that marriage offers protection against deportation, but this belief is only partially true. Immigration policies have changed, making the process less straightforward. For those already in removal proceedings, the path is even more challenging.

Understanding these legal intricacies is crucial. This article explains how marriage impacts deportation proceedings and how Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law in Dallas, can help you through this complicated process.

Understanding Deportation

Deportation is the legal process by which the U.S. government removes a noncitizen from the country. It occurs when individuals violate immigration laws or are found to be a threat to public safety. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) typically handles these proceedings.

Several reasons can trigger deportation. Criminal activity is a primary reason. Noncitizens convicted of crimes, including those deemed a threat to national security, face removal. Another common reason involves visa violations, such as overstaying a visa or working without authorization.

Noncitizens unlawfully present in the U.S. may also undergo deportation. This category includes undocumented immigrants and those who entered the U.S. without proper documentation. Once identified, these individuals may be detained in a detention facility until their case is resolved.

Removal proceedings are conducted by immigration courts. During these hearings, noncitizens can present a defense to deportation. Common defenses include asylum claims, cancellation of removal, and adjustments of status for certain qualifying individuals.

Permanent residents are not exempt from deportation. Suppose a green card holder commits certain crimes or engages in fraudulent activities. In that case, they risk removal from the U.S. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) works with ICE to oversee these cases.

If facing deportation, it’s crucial to understand available options and seek legal advice. For more detailed guidance, you can explore resources on how to get help if you are facing deportation.

Marriage and Immigration Status

Marriage to a U.S. citizen can significantly affect one’s immigration status. For someone facing deportation, it may be possible to adjust their status to permanent resident. This process requires a valid marriage, as USCIS’s “bona fide marriage” criteria demonstrates.

A critical step involves filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the relationship between a U.S. citizen (or permanent resident) and their non-citizen spouse.

Conditional Permanent Residence

A marriage Green Card initially grants conditional permanent residence if the marriage is less than two years old. This status is temporary and requires filing Form I-751 to remove conditions. The removal process ensures the marriage was not for immigration benefits alone.

Details can be found in the Removing Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status allows certain non-citizens to obtain a Green Card without leaving the U.S. Eligibility depends on lawful entry and marriage to a U.S. citizen.

In some deportation cases, marrying a U.S. citizen could be a defense strategy, though it requires a waiver and thorough legal guidance.

Consular Processing

In cases where the immigrant is outside the U.S., consular processing becomes necessary. This involves the foreign spouse applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Through marriage, non-citizens can navigate complex immigration laws to potentially achieve legal residence and avoid deportation challenges.

Can Marriage Stop Deportation?

Marriage to a U.S. citizen is commonly seen as a way to prevent deportation. This method can be a relief but is not a guaranteed solution for all cases.

Common Scenarios Where Marriage Might Help

  1. Conditional Residents: If someone is a conditional resident, they might avoid removal proceedings through marriage.
  2. Pending Immigration Applications: An immigrant with a pending application through a U.S. citizen spouse might receive a stay on deportation during the process.
  3. Humanitarian Factors: Some Immigration Judges might halt cases due to exceptionally appealing or humanitarian factors, such as strong family ties in the U.S.

Scenarios Where Marriage Cannot Help

  1. Illegal Entry: If either spouse has entered the U.S. illegally and reentered after deportation, there is a permanent bar on adjusting status.
  2. Criminal Convictions: Serious crimes like murder, rape, drug trafficking, and terrorism can make an individual ineligible.
  3. Moral Turpitude Crimes: Offenses like drunk driving, petty theft, or domestic violence also make deportation relief through marriage unlikely.
  4. Drug-Related Offenses: Controlled substance charges, particularly those that go beyond simple possession, are serious barriers.

These categories highlight the complexity of navigating immigration law through marriage.

Proving a Bona-Fide Marriage

To prove a bona fide marriage, we must present evidence reflecting a genuine, committed relationship. This involves demonstrating shared responsibilities and life experiences.

Documentation plays a crucial role. Examples include joint financial accounts, like shared bank accounts or credit cards. Such documentation shows intertwined financial lives.

Another critical piece of evidence is shared residence. Documentation may include a lease or mortgage with both partners’ names on it. Utility bills listing both partners at the same address are also vital.

We can also submit affidavits from friends and family members. These sworn statements provide personal insights into the relationship, affirming its authenticity and detailing mutual commitments.

Photographs from various milestones and everyday moments offer visual proof. These images should capture occasions like holidays, vacations, and family gatherings.

We might also consider correspondence. Letters, emails, and messages, especially those dating back to the early stages of the relationship, prove the longevity and depth of our connection.

Other relevant documentation includes insurance policies where both spouses are beneficiaries. Joint health, auto, and life insurance policies illustrate shared life planning.

Remember, each piece of evidence supports the narrative that our marriage is sincere. Proving this requires a combination that collectively paints a full picture of our life together.

False claims, such as those linked to marriage fraud, emphasize the importance of presenting truthful, compelling evidence. The quality and authenticity of the evidence are paramount in demonstrating the legitimacy of our marriage.

Steps to Take if Facing Deportation and Married to a U.S. Citizen

Facing deportation while being married to a U.S. citizen can be daunting. Immediate and strategic action is crucial.

1. Seek Legal Assistance Early

Contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible. They can help navigate complex laws and offer personalized legal strategies. Early legal advice can increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

2. Verify Your Legal Status

Ensure your marriage is recognized as a bona fide marriage. Present evidence like joint bank accounts, bills, and photographs. This shows that your relationship is genuine and not solely for immigration benefits.

3. File the Necessary Petitions

If you entered the U.S. legally, file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition establishes a qualifying relationship.

4. Prepare for Possible Immigration Court

Sometimes, the Immigration Court may still be involved. You could apply for adjustment of status while demonstrating that your marriage involves “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to your U.S. citizen spouse.

5. Avoid Illegal Re-entry

If you were previously deported, do not re-enter the U.S. illegally. This can trigger permanent bars to re-entry. Seek legal pathways for re-entry instead.

6. Understand the Consequences of Divorce

Divorce can affect your legal status. If you’re wondering if your green card might be revoked upon divorce, further details can be found here.

7. Document Everything

Maintain detailed records of your marriage and interactions with USCIS. This can include emails, texts, and affidavits from friends and family verifying your relationship.

8. Attend All Court Hearings

Failure to appear can result in an automatic deportation order. Keep track of your court dates and comply with all requirements.

Act quickly and seek legal advice to help safeguard your future. For more detailed information on immigration proceedings and potential relief, refer to official resources like the Department of Justice documentation.

Legal Assistance for Deportation Cases

Navigating deportation proceedings can be overwhelming without proper legal guidance. An immigration lawyer plays a crucial role in defending against a deportation order.

Experienced attorneys help analyze your immigration history to identify potential defenses.

Some common defenses include applying for waivers, which can delay or stop deportation, and arguing family-based immigration grounds. A strong defense may hinge on your eligibility for lawful permanent residence through marriage or other means.

We ensure that individuals understand their rights and options, guiding them through each stage. For some, obtaining legal residency might be possible despite the beginning of the initial proceedings. This often requires demonstrating the genuine nature of the marriage and sufficient evidence of long-term residence.

Hiring legal representation can significantly affect outcomes in these cases. Lawyers work to prevent deportation by making a compelling case before the immigration judge. This may include presenting a naturalization plan if the individual has been in the U.S. for an extended period.

When it comes to family-based immigration, the assistance of a lawyer is instrumental. Complex paperwork and strict deadlines can be daunting. We offer comprehensive support, from consultations to court representation. This tailored approach helps secure a favorable outcome for those facing removal from the U.S.


Marriage can significantly affect deportation cases within the framework of U.S. immigration law. It is critical for individuals facing deportation to understand that marrying a U.S. citizen does not automatically grant protection from removal proceedings. However, it may offer a legal pathway to adjust status under the right circumstances.

A key factor lies in timing and legal status. Those already under deportation orders might face more hurdles even if married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Immigration judges have discretion in these matters and are influenced by humanitarian grounds or “exceptionally appealing” circumstances.

Key Points to Consider:

  1. Legal Status: Marriage alone is insufficient if the person entered the U.S. illegally.
  2. Time Factors: Early application in proceedings can sometimes halt deportation.
  3. Judicial Discretion: Judges may consider personal and family circumstances.

For example, those with old convictions, especially pre-dating November 1990, might have more leniency. Each case is unique, and outcomes can vary based on individual circumstances and existing immigration policies.

Proper legal guidance is crucial in leveraging marriage as a potential defense against deportation.