Today, thousands of students from across the world study in the United States and fall in love with a US Citizen and get married. Understandably, the loving couple want to stay together. This can be accomplished.
Most students arrive on either a J1 or F1 Student visa. Depending on the type of visa originally granted to the foreign student, there are a few alternative procedures that apply to a student who wishes to gain Legal Permanent Residency or their Green Card after getting married to a US Citizen.
Students with J-1 Visa
J-1 Visas are issued to Exchange Visitors who are participating in an established J Exchange program pre-approved by the State Department.
Certain classes of J-1 Visa holders are subject to a two year residency requirement after the completion of their studies. This means that after the completion of their studies, a J-1 Visa holder must return to his or her home country for at least two years before he or she may obtain an adjustment of status based on Marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident. Under certain circumstances, a J-1 Visa holder may be able to waive the two year residency requirement.
Its important to check your J1 Visa to see whether it is subjected to the two year residency requirement. If not, you can proceed with your application for a Legal Permanent Residency or Green Card without any delay.
Students with F-1 Visa
F-1 Visas are issued to students who wish to enter the United States to study at academic high schools, conservatories, colleges, universities, and institutions with language training programs. Issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), F-1 Visas are generally valid for the time period of study, including a brief grace period after the completion of the visa holder’s course of study. Unlike holders of a J-1 Visa, F-1 Visa holders are not subject to the two year residency requirement upon completion of their studies. F1 Visa holders can marry while in school and apply for a Change of Status without seeking a waiver. Under such circumstances, the foreign student can remain in the United States.
One option to keep in mind is that the foreign students can always voluntarily return home and then apply for a K1 Fiance or CR1/IR1 Marriage Visa. In the case of a J-1 Visa holder who does not successfully seek a waiver, the two year residency requirement will still apply.
If you have any questions about how to apply for Legal Permanent Residency or a Green Card through marriage to a US Citizen, please feel to give me a call. I am always happy to consult on such matters. You can reach me toll free at 1-888-515-3529.
Attorney Jeff Pettys