While previous administrations focused on deporting only those immigrants who commit serious crimes, the Trump administration has made clear that anyone in the United States without proper authorization is fair game for deportation. Furthermore, immigration agents will arrest unauthorized immigrants wherever it finds them.
One place it is easy to find immigrants is at meetings and interviews with immigration authorities -- including marriage interviews. Unfortunately, arresting immigrants at their marriage interviews is increasingly common.
Even receiving approval of the marriage from the USCIS may not be enough to prevent arrest and deportation if an immigrant is subject to an old deportation order. The New York Times recently published an article with several examples where immigrants received that approval but were nevertheless arrested at their marriage interviews.
Applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S citizen has long been a significant challenge for people in the U.S. without authorization. Until 2013, such immigrants could marry, but the only way to qualify for a green card was to go back to their country of origin and apply from there. The wait time could be as long as a decade.
In 2013, the Obama administration created a waiver for people in legitimate marriages with deportation orders on their record. Naturally, the immigrant would have to pass vetting and security checks. They also had to demonstrate that their deportation would cause significant hardship for their U.S. citizen spouse and/or children. Finally, they had to pass the marriage interview.
Assuming the marriage was approved, the immigrant would have a fair shot at a green card. Those with existing deportation orders could petition to have that order lifted and then move forward with their green card applications.
According to some immigration advocates, the USCIS has long notified ICE when a marriage applicant had an old deportation order. However, other than in a few isolated cases, ICE only began arresting these applicants since President Trump took office.
As a result, some immigration attorneys are advising clients not to go to marriage interviews. That often means the immigrant must give up on months or years of progress toward obtaining a green card. It also leaves the immigrant without the ability to get a joint credit card, buy things like car insurance, or fly to a honeymoon destination.
At Yew Immigration Law Group, we know your immigration situation is of the utmost importance to you. If you are seeking a way to live in the U.S. but an old deportation order is standing in your way, we can evaluate your individual situation and advise you on your best way forward. That may include attending an interview with immigration authorities -- or it may not.