What Happens When an Asylum Seeker Is Marrying a U.S. Citizen?

What Happens When an Asylum Seeker Is Marrying a U.S. Citizen?

What happens if I get married while my asylum case is pending?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, an immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, and Washington DC.

In our law firm, we’ve seen a couple of situations lately where asylum clients of ours, people who have raised their hand and asked for sanctuary in the United States through the asylum process, have gotten married or are planning on marrying a U.S. Citizen. They wonder what happens in those situations.


Well, the fact is, asylum cases take a really long time. Asylum will sometimes take two, three, or four years, sometimes even longer. It takes a long time to get your interview. It takes a long time for the asylum office to decide the case. En Español.

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How Does Marrying a U.S. Citizen Help an Asylum Seeker’s Case?

Sometimes while people are here in the United States with a pending asylum case, they fall in love and get married. If that happens, in most situations, the person can get a green card based on that marriage if it is a valid marriage.

That’s, of course, the number one thing, the marriage has to be valid. It has to be legitimate. It has to be based on love and nothing else, not on getting any kind of immigration benefit.

I would say that these marriages are probably held to a higher standard that the immigration officers are going to want to look at it more closely. But if the person was inspected before they applied for asylum.

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Do You Need to Be Physically Present in the U.S. to Apply for Asylum?

So, you know, people who apply for asylum just have to be physically present in the United States.

Those people can be divided into two groups:

  1. Who entered with inspection
  2. Who entered without inspection.

So what I mean by entering without inspection that means coming across the border. But if you came on an immigration visa and overstayed, or you came on a visa, and eventually the visa expired, and then you applied for asylum, then you will have been properly inspected, and you’ll be eligible to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent resident

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Green Card Application Process

Marrying a US citizen can be a big help. You would then go through the normal process to get your green card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Here’s how it’ll go. 

1. Keep asylum case pending

What we would do is we would keep the case pending. We don’t want to undo the asylum case because you never know what’s gonna happen with the marriage.

2. File for an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative

Assuming that the asylum case has not been decided, you can go ahead and file for an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, where the US citizen says, “I want to sponsor the asylum seeker and my spouse for a green card.”

3. File for adjustment

Then, you file for adjustment so you can proceed to be a green card holder. You go through the process normally.

4. Check the entire asylum application

Now, one other thing besides making sure that there’s no fraud and that it is a valid marriage, I think there also is a good chance that they’re going to go back and look at the asylum application.

The immigration officer’s going to make sure that it wasn’t a frivolous asylum application. That would probably involve sort of a bare-bones analysis as to whether or not there was a valid claim for asylum.

5. Get your green card

Short of that, you should be good to go. You should be able to adjust and get your green card. However, it’s best to talk to your immigration attorney to help you in the whole process.

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Contact Our St Louis Asylum Lawyer Today

If you have any questions about how this process works or how you can go from being an asylum applicant to an adjustment of a status applicant based on marriage to a US citizen, make sure to call us at (314) 961-8200. You can also email us at [email protected].

We have a lot of asylum information on our website. Additionally, we’d be happy to talk to you if you have questions. If you like this video, please make sure to click “like” below and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re alerted whenever we shoot new videos. 

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.