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Married on Student Visa

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What are my options for a green card if I get married while on a student visa? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

Today’s question comes from one of our live chat sessions. It was in the chat section of our Facebook Live and YouTube Live show that we do on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 to 01:00. You can join that by joining Immigrant Home, the Facebook group, or subscribing to our YouTube channel. And the question comes from Urkel. Now, I don’t think this is Steve Urkel from Family Matters. This is just Urkel, Urkel. And Urkel wants to know, “I’m on a student visa. My I-20 is good for another year and I’m married to a US citizen. What should I do? Or what are my options?”

Now for Urkel, if you’re married to a US citizen, they could file an I-130 Petition for you. And they could do that now. They don’t have to wait for you to graduate. You don’t have to wait to graduate. They could do that now. And it would save you a little bit of money on the backend, because if you don’t do that and you want to stay in the United States and perhaps do optional practical training, you’re going to have to file an I-765 around the time of graduation, but you’d already get one of those and hopefully your green card if you apply now.

Now, sometimes people don’t want to do that. Sometimes people want to let the marriage settle down and I get that, and there are benefits to waiting. If you waited say a year or a year and a half to apply and maintained your status, then when you get your green card, you’re going to get a 10-year green card because you’ll probably be married for more than two years at the time of your receiving the green card, which is a good thing. Then you can save money later on down the line on the I-751.

But my advice would be if you’re married, Urkel, to a US citizen in your invalid F1 status, I would go ahead and get the process started. You want to start building your case, working towards your green card, and that’s going to make your immigration life a whole lot easier. It’s going to make things easier when you graduate and it’s just going to streamline the whole process. So I don’t see a reason to wait, Urkel. If you do have a reason to wait, then I think you could, but you always want to take advantage of an immigration benefit as fast as you can. That’s my position. If you can apply for a benefit and you’re eligible for it, you should do that sooner rather than later. So Urkel, that’s my answer. I hope it helps. If not, hop back on the call Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 to 01:00 on YouTube and in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home.

If you have questions about this, give us a call (314) 961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in that Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and that you subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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