I married a US citizen in the US on the 4th month while I was vacationing - holding a tourist visa. My I-94 states that I can stay for 6 mos. Can I stay in the US with him even after the 6 mos? What do we need to do next? How long will it take for me to get a legal status? Can I stay in US while everything is in process? Thanks!
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QUESTION: Can I stay in the US with him even after the 6 mos?
ANSWER: BEing married to a US citizen, alone, does not guarantee you any protections in the US, nor does it stop the clock for unlawful presence and illegal stay. However if you do stay past the 6 months, and the immigrant petition and green card application are received by the USCIS, then you are safe from removal from the US, during the time the petition and application are in process.
QUESTION: What do we need to do next?
ANSWER: Here is how to begin the green card process. It includes information on employment authorization. The US citizen spouse must submit the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and the alien must submit the I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, after they are married. They should be submitted together, in the same envelope, to the same address. Both parties must submit form G-325A (Biographic) with the I-130, and the alien must submit I-693 (Medical Examination) with the I-485. You can find the I-130 and its instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextoid=c67c7f9ded54d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD. You can find the I-485 and its instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3faf2c1a6855d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. You can find the G-325A and instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=d7c84154d7b3d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. You can find the I-693 and instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=eb1f3591ec04d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. If the alien wants to work while waiting for the green card approval, they can submit the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. If they want to travel while waiting for the green card, they can submit the I-131, Application for Travel Document. Each of these takes anywhere from 3-5 months for approval. NOTE: If the alien has ACCRUED UNLAWFUL PRESENCE, THEY SHOULD NOT LEAVE THE US UNTIL THEY HAVE AN APPROVED GREEN CARD, even if they have an approved I-131. Leaving the US before approval of the green card may trigger a 3 or 10-year ban from entering the US.) You can find the I-765 and its instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=73ddd59cb7a5d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD&vgnextchannel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD. You can find the I-131 and its instructions here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=b11747a55773d010VgnVCM10000048f3d6a1RCRD.
QUESTION: How long will it take for me to get a legal status?
ANSWER: It can take up to 1 year to complete this process and get your green card, barring any complications.
QUESTION: Can I stay in US while everything is in process?
ANSWER: Yes, as long as the petition and application are received by the USCIS, you are safe to stay in the US while this is in process.
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