Perhaps you recently married someone who was born in another country or just celebrated your latest anniversary. If you are wondering whether your spouse can be removed, or deported, from the United States despite your marriage, the answer may be “yes.”
There are several instances when a married foreign national is subject to deportation:
You or your spouse entered the U.S. illegally and are therefore undocumented
Illegal entry disqualifies the individual from obtaining a green card through marriage, but it is possible to file a 601A waiver. Doing so “allows certain immigrant visa applicants” related to lawful residents or U.S. citizens to request a waiver regarding a several-year bar for “unlawful presence.” Applying for this waiver lets the individual remain in the U.S. while their application is processed instead of having to leave the country and their family.
You or your spouse does not meet the criteria necessary for a green card
To legally obtain a green card, the foreign spouse must have entered the country lawfully and passed the related medical exam. Certain diseases result in exam failure because they can potentially affect other people.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) desires immigrants who will not be financial burdens on American taxpayers or public charges. A public charge is a person who is “primarily dependent on the Government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense.” A green card applicant must subsequently provide proof of income that satisfies the related affidavit of support.
Green card application success requires proving to the USCIS that the marriage is “bona fide,” or real. Validating a citizenship marriage subsequently involves several rounds of interviews concerning the couple’s married life. The marriage must also be at least three years old before the date of the green card application, of which at least 18 months were spent in the U.S. Additional requirements include being at least 18 years old, being able to read and write English and therefore pass the civics test, and residing continually in the United States during the application process and until citizenship is provided.
You or your spouse is convicted of a crime
The truth of the matter is that any crime – a misdemeanor, a felony, even a traffic ticket – could put you or your loved one at risk of deportation, depending on the circumstances. Aggravated felonies are regarded as “deportable offenses” and are grounds for removal. Examples of such felonies include, but are not limited to:
- Drug trafficking
- Treason, spying, or sabotage
- Child pornography
- Human smuggling
- Firearms trafficking
- Terrorist activities
However, the USCIS also recognizes “crimes of moral turpitude” as deportable offenses. The law states:
Any alien who
- is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255(j) of this title) after the date of admission, and
- is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed,
Crimes of moral turpitude can include all of the above listed felonies, but also drunk driving, petty theft, most acts of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, and bribery.
Controlled substance crimes can result in deportation as well, which includes drug possession beyond “a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana.” People with substance abuse issues can subsequently be deported.
Illegal activities can cause both illegal immigrants and lawful permanent residents to get deported. Conditional permanent residents include those who have green card marriages.
Protecting yourself or your spouse from removal
To prevent your spouse from being deported, you must prove that your marriage is legitimate and furnish the individual’s proof of income. Your spouse must also pass the aforementioned medical exam and have entered the country legally, or with a legitimate visa. If your partner entered the U.S. unlawfully, consult a Knoxville immigration attorney to discuss whether filing a 601A waiver is the best option. This waiver does not guarantee that your spouse’s green card application will be accepted.
Once your spouse has resided in the United States for five consecutive years with a green card, they can apply to become a permanent resident. In addition to residing for five years, your spouse must meet the following eligibility requirements to apply:
- Be at least 18 years of age at the time of the application
- Be able to read, speak, and write basic English
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. laws and history
- Show that they have been “physically present” in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the filing
- Demonstrate a good moral character
- Indicate an “attachment” to the ideals and principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution
- Show that they have resided in a USCIS district or state where the application took place for a minimum of three months
To complete the naturalization process, your spouse must submit Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), take the country’s Oath of Allegiance, complete the citizenship interview, complete the fingerprinting, or biometrics, appointment, and know what their rights and responsibilities as an American citizen entails.
If you need to speak with an immigration lawyer regarding your spouse’s citizenship, do not hesitate to make the call. An experienced attorney is a valuable asset who will help you with deportation and any other immigration issues, such as appeals and bonds, and asylum claims. You and your family will enjoy greater peace of mind during immigration processes, because you know we are here to help however we can.
For immigration assistance, contact LaFevor & Slaughter in Knoxville, TN. Our lawyers are here to navigate immigration processes with you. Call us today or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.
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