In previous articles I have written about the various immigration processes in existence that depend on your personal or family status. Many of these processes require sponsorship from another individual or an organization for an immigrant to be able to obtain a visa or adjust status to that of a legal permanent resident.
Although there are several visas available through employers, by far the most common method is through family. Family reunification has been a primary guiding principal underlying U.S. immigration law for many years. Family-based immigration allows for close relatives of U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) to rejoin their families here in America. Immigrants here are admitted to the U.S. either as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or through the family preference system for LPRs.
Under the family-based system of adjusting status, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has created two different paths: Immediate Relatives (IRs) and family-based preferences. The status of the relative and the immigrant’s relationship to that relative is what determines the proper path for an applicant. Many of you may already be familiar with the family-based immigration processes either from experience or after reading some of my articles. If so, then you already know the value of the process as it relates to immigration.
As a refresher, you can help other family members immigrate into the US depending on your legal status. Your ability to sponsor family is as follows: Citizens can sponsor their spouses, unmarried and married sons and daughters as well as their brothers and sisters. A LPR can sponsor their spouses and unmarried sons and daughters (married children of permanent residents do not qualify for any immigration benefits).
With many of my clients, I have discussed the value of getting married to their citizen or legal permanent resident girlfriend/boyfriend as it relates to immigration since the new relationship can be used almost immediately to adjust their status. For some, this prospect is the only way they can obtain a visa to live in the US legally. Unfortunately, many of these people would already be married if they thought they could do so without risking their immigration status or if they could afford to leave the country to do so. Like many areas of law, these people did not know that getting married in the US is legal and much easier than they thought.
Many of you may be surprised to hear that there is no need to leave the country to legitimize your relationship and that you do not have to be a citizen or permanent resident to get married in the US. In fact, you do not even need to marry a citizen or green card holder in order to take advantage of marriage laws in Michigan. It is completely legal for visitors and even undocumented individuals to marry as long as they have the right paperwork and assistance to do so.
As an immigration attorney and a clergy member, I have a unique ability to assist individuals who want to get married without the risk of going to the courthouse to do so. With my expertise, I can help you navigate the complicated legal process and perform your marriage without risking your immigration status. It is also important to remind people that this process is available under current law and they should take advantage of this process as soon as possible. It is possible that the immigration reforms may change certain aspects of the family immigration process and how marriage is treated.