Student visa holder married green card holder, what can she do?

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[Note: The following paid consultation question is taken from the Guru's past client files.]

Question: Dear Guru,

My sister is a F1–name removed–currently maintaining status. She married a Green Card Holder (DV) in April 2009. They have not filed any petition yet as she wanted to continue studies as a F-1. They have been living together.

She is going to graduate in May 2010. Now she wants to file family petition and remain in the US with her husband.

(1) Do we file I-130, I-485, I-765, I-131 together at the same time?

(2) Can she remain in the US until there is a decision on her I-130 OR will she have to continue going to school?

Answer: The husband is a legal permanent resident (LPR or green-card holder) and can only file an I-130 for your sister. The I-485 application to adjust status to permanent residence CANNOT and must not be filed together with the I-130 or it will be rejected because the husband only has a green card and not a U.S. citizen yet. The I-485 can ONLY be filed once a visa number is available for your sister as the wife of an LPR. That’s because the immigrant who marries an LPR has to proceed one step or stage at a time, and the first step that must be taken is filing the I-130 and wait until it is approved by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

The I-130 is approved relatively fast but it does not grant your sister the right to file the I-485 until a visa number is available in her appropriate category of relatives. As the wife of an LPR, she is in the F2A category of relatives, which is running about 4 years behind in visa numbers, more or less. She’ll have to maintain lawful status in this country (continuing going to school, change to H-1B, E-1 visa, or whatever other nonimmigrant visa she qualifies for independently), while waiting in the 4 years or else she will jeopardize her chance of filing an I-485 in the future due to being out-of-status. Not until there is a visa number available for the F2A category will the I-485 finally allowed to be filed. And as stated, no visa numbers are available for a few years in that category if an I-130 is filed today. To understand this issue read the article “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!” as a whole, with particular attention to what we have called the “Stage 1″ and “Stage 2″ waits in that article.

So, in essence, marrying an LPR is less “advantageous” than marrying a U.S. citizen, because an immigrant who marries a citizen can file an I-130 together with the adjustment of status (the I-485) and work permit and all that quickly since there is no wait for a visa number. This is obviously the scenario described in our article “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?” However, if one is in love with an LPR, then that’s who one is in love with!

Also, many immigrants continually make the mistake of thinking that as soon as their LPR spouses file the I-130 for them, that they can stay in this country regardless if their nonimmigrant visa (the student visa in this case) is out-of-status. No! The I-130, even if it is approved, does NOT grant any right to a person to be in this country or to get a work permit or a driver’s license whatsoever. A person who is out-of-status on their nonimmigrant visa is subjected to removal (deportation) proceedings at any time. Whether they will actually be served papers to go to court for those proceedings is another story due to lack of resources on the part of Immigration & Customs Enforcement. But understand if a person is out-of-status, this could happen any time. Jan. 19, 2010 update: For example, see the comment of another reader whose brother overstayed a tourist visa for two years and thought he could continue to stay here until one day the police or immigration agents came to his house to put him into deportation.

The way to get out of this quandary is if the husband files for citizenship and gets approved in the meantime. That will reduce your sister’s wait and make things easier. Of course, saying that the husband could file for citizenship does not mean that it’s a done deal. He will have to wait until he’s been an LPR for 5 years, then go through the actual process of applying, and then he may or may not get approved, depending on his behavior and records since he became an LPR.



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69 Responses to “Student visa holder married green card holder, what can she do?”

  1. Is it necessary for her to have a social security in order to get a Marraige liscense in that State? (she doesn’t have one) What forms are necssary for her to file after her marraige in order receive her green card? Are there any precautionary measures herself and her fiance should take in light of her status?

    Please people, for the umpteenth million times, do not expect us to answer such detailed and important questions for free here, as our disclaimer right in front of this article states as well as on our homepage. Your friend has to do a paid consult with the Guru, the lawyer, to get the answers to these. THIS IS A LAW FIRM, NOT A FREE LEGAL-AID ORGANIZATION!!

    John A., Legal Assistant

  2. My friend has been out of status on her F1 visa since december 2007. She remained her in the US since her mom had filed for her. She will be married this summer to her fiance who is a US citizen In North Carolina. Is it necessary for her to have a social security in order to get a Marraige liscense in that State? (she doesn’t have one) What forms are necssary for her to file after her marraige in order receive her green card? Are there any precautionary measures herself and her fiance should take in light of her status?

  3. Hi,
    My F2 visa which was accquired through marriage to my ex- husband expired two years ago. My current husband is a green card holder. Can he file for a green card for me.

    • Hilda, didn’t you read this article that you posted the comment on??

      Everything and more information that you could ever want on this subject was discussed by the Guru right above.

      If you don’t understand what this article says, then contact us for a paid consultation. That’s the only way. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT.”

      John A., Legal Assistant

  4. I am recently divorced. I met a man who I am interested in marrying but, I am concerned. I filed for my ex-husband to get his green card and I wanted to find out if I file for this man to get a green card who is here on an expired visa, will there be a problem? I cannot help that I have fallen in love with yet another man who is not a legal resident, but this man is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I do not want to lose him. My ex-husband’s citizenship was denied because we were not living together at the time he applied. We have been married for over 5 years so he reapplied without me. I was wondering will the application be flagged because my name is in the system with my ex-husband? How long should I wait in between filing for there not to be a problem? Will they make my new fiance go back to his country and re-enter or if we are married will they allow him to stay? I do not want to do a Fiance visa. We would get married and then apply.

    • With a name like george, are you a man or woman? Also, your questions and previous denial because you didn’t live together with your ex-husband have the smell of marriage fraud. Please do not ask us questions because we do no get involved with that kind of thing!

      John A., Legal Assistant

  5. Lora Williams Says:

    I got married in 2001 but got divorced 2007. While i was married i filed immigration papers for my ex-husband. But we did not finish the process because before we went for our second interview we were separated already. The problem i have now is my current spouse needs a work permit and am confuse due to what i have heard from non-legal adviser that is not possible for me to file for him. Can i still file for him. Thanks

    • What is a “non-legal adviser?” Only an attorney-at-law, such as the Guru, is authorized to be a counselor and advisor to people in legal matters. In any event, as stated prominently on our home page, we do not do problem-solving of specific immigration cases on this blog. Please contact the Guru for a paid consultation, as shown in our Info & Contact.

      John A., Legal Assistant



    • There are many ways to get a green card but mainly it’s through a family or employment petition. Your question is too broad without knowing your individual circumstances. And just because you want it “asap”, if you don’t qualify for things that are fast, you’re not going to get your green card fast just because you wish it that way. You may have to wait in line for years like millions of people around the world.

      If you want the Guru to make it simple and describe the options for you, then do a paid phone consultation with him. Phone or email us.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  7. I applied for asylum and just received a Notice of Intent to Deny. I have just filed a reply to that. The question is can I still get married to my girlfriend who is an American Citizen and when can it be late to do so.

    • A green card application based on marriage to a US citizen can be filed at any time (even when a person is in removal/deportation proceedings). Whether the immigrant will ultimately get the green card or not is a different story and depends on many factors. That is why, without knowing your immigration history, we cannot say for sure and do not want to say anything definite. For example, if you came illegally you will not be able to get your green card here. Only a consultation with us could tell you the answer for sure.

  8. Hi,

    I read this article and skimmed through most of the questions posed by others in the blog but didn’t quite find what I was looking for. Mine is a case of “used to have F-1 status, finished Bachelor’s program, completed OPT, went on to H-1 for a year, then switched back to F-1 for graduate school”. Prior to the H-1 and the second F-1, I traveled outside the US, and haven’t since because I was told that my “stamp had expired”. I was never completely clear what that meant, except that I would need to get a new stamp if I needed to re-enter.

    Fast forward 4.5 yrs after the second F-1 initiation, I am getting married to a US citizen and also graduating soon. How does that affect my legal status, travel-wise? I have relatives in Canada who won’t attend the wedding and who we’d like to visit, and perhaps go on a honeymoon outside the US. What paperwork can we, if at all, submit so that I can get cleared to return?

    Thanks for your time!

    • I read this article and skimmed through most of the questions posed by others in the blog but didn’t quite find what I was looking for. …Prior to the H-1 and the second F-1, I traveled outside the US, and haven’t since because I was told that my “stamp had expired”. I was never completely clear what that meant, except that I would need to get a new stamp if I needed to re-enter.

      It’s impossible to cover all possible situations since the immigration law is too vast and complex with all types of immigrants. Just look at your I-94; all nonimmigrants get the I-94. When they re-enter the U.S., an F-1 receives a “D/S” stamped on the I-94, meaning “duration of status,” or duration of educational studies. The term “stamp had expired” is meaningless to us as immigration lawyers, it’s a simplification: what “stamp” are people referring to, the I-94 or the visa itself? They’re two completely separate things. It’s very simple: you’re only supposed to stay until the final date on the I-94, or when there’s D/S, staying until the end of your studies.

      We can help you with the marriage case to get your green card. You may contact us at 310.289.2155 or email,

      • We live in North Carolina. Would you be able to handle our paperwork from a different state? How soon after the wedding can I travel outside the US or is that not advisable if I have applications pending?

        I need to get my legalese correct, all I know is when the international office processed my “change of status” from F-1 to H-1 and then again back to F-1, they mentioned that the changes in status would require me to get a new stamp before I try to re-enter the US next time (I assume they were referring to my I-94). My original F-1 visa was set to expire a year after the proposed completion of my undergraduate program, i.e. 2005. Does that mean when they processed my change of status, that they extended my visa at the time? Or does that mean I am out of status now? I’m sorry if you’ve answered this somewhere else in your blog. If you could point me in the right direction where I can find the relevant literature, that would be most helpful. Because I’ve changed statuses several times, and because I’ve been told several different things by non-lawyers like yourself, I am a little confused with the terminology. I was told my visa was valid, and that my status as a student is legal, I know I have a SSN, a driver’s license, I get paid a graduate stipend and I pay taxes and am a home owner with a clean record.

        • Because I’ve changed statuses several times, and because I’ve been told several different things by non-lawyers like yourself, I am a little confused with the terminology.

          How on earth did you get that we’re non-lawyers? The Guru, Mr. Larry Liem Doan, is a licensed attorney in the State of California. This is the Law Office of Larry Liem Doan as shown everywhere on this blog. The Guru is an immigration litigator and also represents mostly people in removal (deportation) proceedings in the Immigration Court (as Southern California has the most number of removal cases in the country), cases much more complicated and difficult than an adjustment of status case such as yourself, which although relatively simpler, he enjoys doing them very much. We have clients from all over the US, the immigration law is exactly the same. In fact, we picked up a couple of clients in the past two weeks from South Carolina.

          We will take care of all these details once you’ve retained us. You can contact us tomorrow on Friday during West Coast business hours. Alternatively, if you want to clarify your confusions ahead of time, then we suggest you do a paid phone consultation with the Guru for half an hour. Phone is obviously far more efficient than this cumbersome written communication since confusion can be cleared up instantaneously.

          • That was an honest mistake. I typed that at a B&N while waiting for a meeting and didn’t proofread it. The context of the post clearly makes that stick out like a sore thumb. My mistake, my apologies. I meant to say “non-lawyers” that staff the international offices, UNLIKE yourself.

          • OK, understood.

            Those people in the international offices of colleges and universities are not qualified and should not be giving legal advice. They’re just like the people in the clerk’s office of your local courthouse. Some like to dispense what amounts to legal advice even though they’re prohibited to do so, and there are signs in the clerk’s office that say so.

  9. Hi,

    I am on EAD right now for about 7 months, my wife came to US on H4 VISA while I was on H1B VISA last year. She then converted from H4 to F1 VISA,is it possible for her to travel on vacation to India get her VISA stamped and reenter US?


    • Where do people get this idea of “visa stamping” when they change status in the US, then travel, and need to return?? We don’t understand where this idea comes from on the internet in immigration discussions. Because she’s going to need more than just a visa “stamping.” Any student who’s still pursuing studies in the U.S. can travel. But if they don’t have the F-1 visa in their passport already, they must apply for and get it at the US consulate in their country before they can be allowed re-entry to U.S.

      • Will there be any risks associated with my wife’s F1 VISA getting rejected on the basis that I have applied for Green Card\EAD. She has already completed 1 year of study.

        Thanking you,

  10. Hello I came to the usa on a F1 student visa. I am currently going to school full time and my visa expires in december 2011. So I am legally here. My boyfriend (who is a green card holder) and I just found out we are going to have a baby. Since i cannot work under my F1 visa, we are worried we won’t be able to afford having this baby. So we are wondering if by getting married I can adjust my status in any way and get a legal working authorization.

    • As clearly explained in the article, marrying an LPR will not give you any benefits such as adjustment of status and employment authorization for quite a few years (about 3 to 5 years at the current rate), unless your husband applied for and became a citizen prior to that.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  11. Dear Guru, I’m a green-card holder of over 25years,I’m planning on getting married to my GF who is a F1-student sometimes next month, Right now she still has 1 full year before here visa expire. I just file and turn my N-400 in this week,I should pass the test , as I have no criminal records, beside a few speeding tickets and file for taxes every year.Last year my brothers and uncle all file for their n-400 and had everything done in 6month and waited 1 month to be sworn in. So i dont see why mine would be any longer.
    But my question is, if i marry my GF now, will it be any harder for her and me to file for her I-485 because we got married before im a U.S. citizen , I know not to file any paper work until I have my U.S. citizenship. I just want to know if it will have any negative effect on my
    GF/Wife chance of getting here -I-485 approved by us doing marriage paper work now.

    • It won’t be harder, it’s just more involved. Those are the details that you should do a paid consultation with us; it’s too much to explain here. As can be seen, we try to keep it short with replies to these comments. Please call 310.289.2155 or email: All major credit cards and Paypal are accepted. Thank you.

  12. Dear Guru,

    I am on my F1 Visa. I am also on my OPT. My OPT and have EAD which is getting over in August 2010. If i marry my girl friend who is a Green Card Holder, would I be getting the EAD or the work permit after I marry her n how much time it would take for the EAD since I am working with one of the companies on OPT and they dont want to file for H1B. So I thought that if I married my GF as soon as possbile, would I get my EAD after filling for 1-765.

    Hopinf for your reply at your earliest.

    • Didn’t you read this article before posting your comment? The article answered the same question of a person who had the exact same situation as you that by marrying only a green-card holder you cannot get an EAD of the general kind given to immigrants filing for adjustment of status, unlike marrying a citizen. It won’t happen for quite a few years, as the article explained. Don’t know how else the Guru can explain it any better.

      If you still have difficulties understanding why, then please do a paid consultation with the Guru (Mr. Doan) by calling 310.289.2155 starting Monday or email at

      John A., Legal Assistant

  13. Hello!

    I just got LPR/GREEN CARD last month,Dec 2009. Can i go and marry my girl friend in her country(Nepal) and file I-130 to bring her here(US). And how long it takes me to bring her here..

    • The article you just read told you about the lack (limited numbers) of visas available when somebody marries only an LPR, not a citizen. Also, read “What to Look for When Your Green-Card Holder Helps You Immigrate.” People who are only LPRs (green card-holders) have got to understand that they cannot do things to help their spouses as quickly as citizens, or cannot even do certain things that citizens can do to help spouses and families. That’s just the way the U.S. immigration system is currently set up.

  14. Britni Freeman Says:

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  15. i came here on j1 visa for one year study and i get married from american woman and i have to years requirment to go back to my country , i tried to a waiver and i got non objection letter from my country but deperment of state denied this waiver , and iam out of statues now i dont want leave my wife what can i do , can i adjustment statues or change my visa here to f1 visa and apply for green card or i have go back there and then apply for f1 visa to come back here , or can i apply for green card through my two years residency requirement , what should i do, and put in you mind iam out of statues

    • Well, unlike some other J-1 visa holders who have asked this exact question on this blog many times before, you actually appear to know the requirement of trying to apply for that waiver, which is commendable. You tried it and it’s been denied by the State Department. So, unfortunately, the only thing to do now is to follow the rules for J-1: return to your home country and live for two years before you can apply for green card. As far as changing status from one nonimmigrant visa type to another type: no one can change status to F-1, H-1, or anything else when they’re already out-of-status. That would be rewarding people who didn’t follow the rules, and U.S. immigration law is strict when it comes to that.

      • hi this is j-1 holders wife i am a us citizen what about trying for this new k-3 visa and im sure that they will take in to consideration we did follow rules we filed while he was in status and our lawyer a dvised him to stay pending waiver verdict along with verbal ok from uscis till verdict

        • jhon, we don’t mean to be rude but why are you wasting our time asking questions when you guys already have a lawyer?? That is just not fair! Why don’t you ask him first, which we suspect you already did? He’s provided a lot of advice to you guys and represented you so far apparently (he’s correct that your husband could have stayed here pending the decision on the waiver but as soon as it was denied, your husband should have left the U.S. to prevent being out-of-status and your husband is still here so no, your husband has not followed the rules). You should have just stated up front on here the first time that you want a second opinion and contact us to pay for it since you obviously think we’re better lawyers here.

  16. Fennel Coleman Says:

    I am a US Citizen, recently married, my wife had an F-1 visa was out of status but continued going to school and have transcripts as prove. ( I am thinking her last reinstatement request got denied). We are thinking about filing her paper work but not exactly sure what applications to send in, secondly what effect will her being out of status and the reinstatement request denial have on the entire process, she have also had 1 DUI that was already taken care off. These concerns are due the fact that I cannot afford to hire Immigration lawyer at this time, and don’t know exactly how to handle all the extra situation. Thanks very much.

    • Even if we could tell you what forms to file, we don’t recommend it because these cases are not merely about forms. Your wife’s case has concerns (like the DUI, and being out-of-status) that we highly recommend you do what it takes to obtain attorney-representation, or her case will run into problems. Even if we give you cursory suggestions to handle the special situations, USCIS officers will just steamroll or ignore your responses and rule against you even if, legally, their rulings are wrong. However, a trained lawyer is needed to argue back and defend your rights. Our rates are reasonable and we may be able to work with you. In this economy, other lawyers may also. You can contact us by phone or email.

  17. I am a J-1 student. i want to get married to an american man. if we get married can i start working right away or do i have to wait for a green card?and if i have to wait for the green card how long does it take to come. would it change anything for my schooling in my country. please awnser as soon as possible cause my visa is going to expire soon. thank you for listening to me.

    • As a J-1 visa holder you should know because you were told (or should have been told) at the U.S. consulate in your country when you received that visa that most J-1s have a 2-year residency requirement, meaning you must go back and live in your country for at least 2 years before you can apply for a green card even through marriage. That makes the J-1 different than other visa types. There are some J-1s that don’t have this requirement but that takes an investigation from the lawyers and we can only help you by starting with a paid consultation. You can contact us by phone or private email.

  18. I Guru,
    I ma currently a J! visa holder and has been and is almost completing my program, which is PHD . I came ij US with my husband and children and unfortunately we got divorced and I was given full custody of our minor children. my ex husband changed status and continured with her studies at another school. Since he was not willling to support the children at all, I went to court for child support and he was forced to begin paying but he refused and his wages were garnished. He was so angry that he quit school and returned to the home country. I a mleft with the kids in the US and I am so afraid that if I go back to home country our divorce will not be recognized and he will beat me up to death for going to court and filing for child support. Shuold I apply for assylum or what should I do?

    • As was recently answered to another commenter with this same question on this same blog article, asylum is not a viable option unless you were genuinely persecuted in your home country (and it has to be a country that’s known as not being stable, or has ethnic/religious conflicts) AND also there is a one-year deadline to file asylum since your time of entry. Unfortunately, your options are limited, especially since the J-visa usually (but not always) has a 2-year requirement that you must go back to your home country before a green card (such as through marriage to a US citizen) could be approved.

  19. Dear Larry,

    My F1 visa will be expire soon, I want to apply for another school. But I also want to apply for Asylum. Can I apply F1 and Asylum together at the same time?



    • There’s a one-year deadline to file for asylum so if you’ve been here over a year, it’s too late. Even if it’s within a year, asylum is very hard to win; don’t even think of applying unless you’re from a country with actual violence, upheaval, and persecution and you were specifically targeted by the authorities. Because if you fail, you will be placed into removal proceedings for sure.

  20. dear sir
    after greeting
    i came here on j1 visa for one year study and i get married from american woman and i have to years requirment to go back to my country , i tried to a waiver and i got non objection letter from my country but deperment of state denied this waiver , and iam out of statues now i dont want leave my wife what can i do , can i adjustment statues or change my visa here to f1 visa and apply for green card or i have go back there and then apply for f1 visa to come back here , what should i do, help me pls

  21. Hi Guru,

    Thank you for your blog it really helps me alot. I read all your advices and it is very helpful to people that has a husband/wife thats on F1 marrying a green card holder.

  22. Dear Guru,
    I am an F1 student and and about to finish my associates degree in a community college.This is my last semester and as i needed, i took 6 credit hours as an “less than full time student” with approval. Now that I failed in one of the subjects, i am out of status.So is there any chances for me to get back into the status again because i am afraid this is my last semester in this college. The other thing is, I applied for OPT few days back and waiting for my EAD card to arrive.Since I have been out of status, what would be with this OPT and and what Am I supposed to do.I am completely frustrated and in need of help or advice or suggestions.

    • You might be able to get reinstatement into F-1 status if there is enough of a good excuse. However, we would need to do a consultation with you first in order to understand what happened and if there’s any possibility to even pursue the reinstatement. After that, you would hire us to do the reinstatement paperwork with USCIS. Please call at +1 310 2892155 or email:

  23. i am cream, i came as an f-1 student, change my status to deferred enforced departure (DED), and extends until next year 2010. I also have valid Drivers license, and Employment Authorization Card. I applied for asylum, my asylum case is in removal proceedings with an I. If i marry my girlfriend who is a green card holder, will i still be deported from the us?

    • Since you’re in removal proceedings, you most likely have an attorney representing you so you should ask them. As stated in the article you’ve just read, there can be no visa number available for many years on a brand-new marriage to a green-card holder unlike marrying a citizen. Whether you will be removed by the judge or not is too complex of a question, involving too many factors to be answered on this blog. If you do not want to ask your lawyer (because of doubts, communication breakdowns, etc.) and want a 2nd opinion, contact our office for a consultation starting next week after this Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. Tel: 310.289.2155 or email,

  24. Dear Guru,

    I am a green card holder and my wife is on F1 visa. She is going to graduate in 2010. She has been maintaining her status. I havent applied a green card for her.

    My question is- We are planning to go out of USA for a vacation, and I was wondering if she will have a problem while entering back into USA after the vacation because of her F1 status ( & marriage to a Green card holder)


    • No, marriage to a green-card holder by itself does not affect her F-1 as long as she’s maintaining her status by being in school. She should be able to travel and re-enter. The marriage by itself also does not affect her getting another type of nonimmigrant visa. Not until you file an I-130 for her, then the consulate or USCIS may deny the new nonimmigrant visa because that shows immigrant intent on her part.

  25. hi there! i just want to inquire if: can a F1 visa holder possibly get a work permit when married to a green card holder?

  26. anonymous Says:

    Dear Guru… Pls guide us so tht we can plan our journey to be together easily and faster….
    My boyfriend will get his citizenship in June 2011.
    I am planning to go on F1 and begin my 1 year course form Aug 2010. We plan to get married in Dec 2010 in our home country (outside USA)
    My questions are
    1. Should me register our marriage in Dec 2010 itself and can I continue to be under F1 visa and reenter USA on the same visa? Or it it advisable to register marriage post he gets his citizenship?
    2. During the course of my study, is it ok if I show my living address same as his in USA. Will this afect us anytime in future while going for adjustmant of status?
    3.If I am on OPT uner F1 in one state and my to be husband in another state, will this pose a problem while applying for adjustment in status? In that case what should we do?

  27. Dear sir


    I am a (research associate Ph.D.) in Tu university, I am working in research so i have J-1 VISA and on this visa this statment was written ( bearer is not subject to section 212 (E)) and for 2 years and Tu university support my salary and my contract is for 2 years only. I loved and i am going to marry a green card holder girl. She got a green card recently ( her green card type is RE6 for refugee). when i came to usa, they told me in the university that the type of my visa has a flexability in status changing, i mean i can change the status of my visa from USA and does not require me to be outside USA..

    So my question is if I marry this girl, is that marriage will be legal and my accomodation in USA will be legal as long as I marry her or not? so if i marry her, my staying here in usa will be legal as long as she is living here. We plan for real marriage.


    • “¨when i came to usa, they told me in the university that the type of my visa has a flexability in status changing, i mean i can change the status of my visa from USA and does not require me to be outside USA..”

      Almost ALL nonimmigrant visas can be changed to another visa while still in the U.S. if you meet all the requirements for the new visa AND you file the change of status prior to expiration of period of stay of your current one. It’s not just your J-1 visa. I talked about this in “Nonimmigrant Visas and Why Maintaining Status in the U.S. Is Important.” You should read that. However, the J-1 is different because there is a 2-year home residency requirement restriction before you can change to H or L visa. If you are not subjected to the requirement, then you can change to H or L. As far as marrying a green-card holder, as I discussed in the post above, you do not get any benefit from the marriage while waiting for a visa number in the many years that you have to wait, so must maintain your immigration status independently either through your J-1 or through another visa type, unless it can be predicted ahead of time that your wife will apply for citizenship in 2014 and be approved. She will most likely be approved but one can never be 100% certain about something in the future like that. As for the legality your marriage, anyone in the U.S. who’s an adult can marry another adult, of course, under state law, and of course, in Oklahoma where you’re at.

      Guru Larry

    • Dear Sir

      Thanks for reply. I would like to inform you that I not not under the condition of 2 years waiver and I do not need to return to my country for 2 year residency requirement as I am not in scholarship but I am research associate in addition to that my country never financially support me( Tulsa university’s immigration office told me that today) . So far US supports me with salary. I wonder if i can ask you
      1.what is the meaning of Visa Number that will be clear in many years?
      2. When I implement the marriage, will I be living in usa with my wife that hold green card or after my visa period expiring should I be outside usa and in this case my wife will live here alone and I will live in other country??? plese let me know

      Once again Thanks so much


      • Yes, I modified my answer to you after I saw that you stated you are not subjected to the 2-year requirement. As far as “Visa Number that will be clear in many years,” the proper phrase is when a “Visa Number will be available in many years.” I don’t have time to explain what that concept means (you might already know what that mean), but it was explained in my article “What to Look for When Your Green-Card Holder Helps You Immigrate.” Basically, there are no visa numbers available for spouses of green-card holders right away, they have to wait for many years. Read the article and the answer will be there.

        Guru Larry

  28. i am on F-1 visa and married to a green card holder. for the time being we are happy with things the way they are, but we would like to know if we have the option of applying for a green card after she gets her citizenship in two years, or do we have to apply now. i am scheduled to finish school in two and half to three years, and she will be a citizen in two years. do we have to apply now, or is it better to wait 2 years and then apply?

    • Sam, if you read this blog post above, I stated that the spouse, or your wife here, can file an I-130 petition for you but that does not give you any right to file for the next application which is the green card application until the I-130 is approved. However, currently USCIS is taking about 3 1/2 years to approve it (at California Service Center, for example). Since the I-130 is not going to help you at all until it’s approved, your wife might as well file for naturalization when she’s eligible in two years.

      After she has taken the oath of citizenship is when she can file the I-130 for you and you can file for permanent residency at the same time. But, remember, it’s going to be 2 1/2 to 3 more years until that point: 2 years to qualify to apply, and 6 months to a year before the naturalization application is approved.


  29. Suman,

    It depends whether you’re talking about pre-completion or post-completion OPT for your friend. If post-completion, then she already finished her course of studies and got her degree or educational program objective, and so she’d better get permission from her school to enroll in another study program leading to the next degree, or else she is considered out-of-status. A F-1 student cannot just take a course and be in-status (unless they’re on full-time OPT).

    If pre-completion OPT, then she obviously has not finished her course of studies, and the answer is that this “course” you say she is taking is sufficient only if it is a normal part of her studies program leading to her degree or educational objective.

    The marriage to the green-card holder does not affect her F-1 status. But as my blog post states, she will not have any right to remain in this country merely because of the marriage and must wait until her visa number is current.

    Larry L. Doan

  30. Hello ,

    My friend travelled here on F1 and is going to move to OPT in 3 months. Her F1 is for 5 years D/S. Having said that she is going to get married to a green card holder. Will there be a problem for her from moving back to studies from OPT. Will the F1 visa still be valid since she is finishing her current course if she has to take up another course. Is the marriage going to create any problems.


  31. hey i an F1 student , and am still maintaining my status here , my record is clean and everything is cool , and my girlfriend is a green card holder, and because she lives here and i dont wanna leave here because am a student , we decided to get married to make my papers and to change my status , my question is if we got married and all that , though she dont live with me , she lives with her brother , and she is waiting her citizenship in 3 years , my question is if we got married now , and in the time bien she still lives with her family can her parents or brother know that she is married to me ? does it show on any citizenship papers?

    • First of all, please understand that by marrying a green-card holder, you still have at least a four-year wait before a visa number is available. So you cannot adjust your status to green card (not change of status, there’s a difference) until then. Even if she applies for citizenship in 3 years that will take another six months to a year before she’s approved and sworn in, so it’ll be a four-year wait, also. In the meantime, for the next four years at least, you’ll have to maintain status on the F-1 by continuing to be a student, or change status to another nonimmigrant visa if you’re eligible. What is a nonimmigrant visa? Well, the student visa is one kind. I blogged about this here. It’s unlikely but theoretically you could still be exposed to potential removal (deportation) if you don’t maintain status.

      As far as her parents knowing, if you guys don’t tell them they won’t know. However, if they happen to see immigration correspondences addressed to her at the house accidentally, they might find out.


      • Dear Guru , I am married and now trying to get F-1 visa, but my husband is Green Card holder. How his GC can stay on the way to get my F-1? Can it be a reason for refusal and what to do if it’s so? How can i prove that i do not intent to immigrate?

        • “How can i prove that i do not intent to immigrate?” Have strong evidence that you have property, money, family ties, and connections to your country, the Ukraine, so that you will return to your country at the end of your studies in the U.S. If your husband is a green-card holder but lives in the Ukraine, that should not matter so much. If he is living in the U.S., then yes, it will seem you’re applying for the F-1 with the intent to actually immigrate to the U.S. to be with him, but if that is the case, if you have strong evidence that you do not intend to abandon your residence in Ukraine, your F-1 visa could still be approved.

          Guru Larry

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