Green card

Navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law can be challenging, especially for those who have overstayed their visa or engaged in unauthorized work. However, there may still be a pathway to legal residency through marriage to a U.S. citizen. In this post, we delve into this process and its intricacies.

Eligibility for Green Card Through Marriage

  1. Legal Entry and Inspection: To be eligible, you must have entered the United States legally and undergone an inspection by a U.S. immigration officer. This includes holding a valid visa upon entry and having an I-94 record.
  2. Marriage to a U.S. Citizen: A key factor is being married to a U.S. citizen. This relationship can open doors to legal residency, even if you have overstayed your visa or worked without authorization.
  3. Admissibility Factors: Your overall admissibility to the U.S. is assessed, taking into account any immigration violations or criminal history that might impede your green card application.

Understanding Overstay and Unauthorized Work Implications

  • Forgiveness Clause: In cases of visa overstay or unauthorized employment, these transgressions can be forgiven for those married to U.S. citizens, allowing them to proceed with their green card application.
  • Time Frames and Consequences: It’s important to be aware of the specific time frames related to visa overstays and their potential consequences on future immigration opportunities.

Marriage to a U.S. Permanent Resident

  • Different Rules Apply: If you are married to a U.S. permanent resident, the process differs. You must maintain nonimmigrant visa status to adjust your status within the U.S. through USCIS Form I-485.
  • Consular Processing Option: For those who have overstayed less than 180 days, consular processing outside the U.S. may be an option.
  • Transition to U.S. Citizenship: In cases of an overstay exceeding 180 days, the best course might be for your spouse to obtain U.S. citizenship before you apply for adjustment of status.

Long-Term Overstays

  • Marriage to a U.S. Citizen: Even with extended overstays, marriage to a U.S. citizen may still enable you to apply for a green card without leaving the U.S.

Working with an Immigration Lawyer

  • Legal Expertise is Key: Given the complexity and potential long-term consequences of mistakes, consulting with a qualified immigration lawyer is crucial to navigate this process effectively.


While overstaying a visa and unauthorized work can present significant challenges in the U.S. immigration system, pathways to legal residency through marriage exist. Understanding your options and seeking professional legal advice is crucial in successfully transitioning to a green card holder status.

Green Cards for Spouses

Immigrant & Non-immigrant Visa (NIV) Waivers

Additional Outside Resources

Subscribe to Our Resources Blog

Schedule a Consultation with an Immigration Lawyer

We Can Help!

You may have questions regarding U.S. immigration laws and visas. We invite you to reach out to our team at Richards and Jurusik for detailed guidance and assistance. Our goal is to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information to make your immigration process smoother and less stressful. The immigration lawyers at Richards and Jurusik have decades of experience helping people to work and live in the United States. Read some of our hundreds of 5-star client reviews! Contact us today for an assessment of your legal situation.

Contact Us

Similar Posts