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Marriage as a pathway to legal status

Colorado residents have likely heard that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is in flux. Those who are part of the program and are looking for a way to stay in the United States may have considered marrying a United States citizen. While this may make it easier to get a green card and stay in the country as a permanent resident, it may not help everyone.

For instance, someone who leaves the United States and tries to reenter may be considered undocumented even if that person participates in DACA. If a person commits a crime such a fraud after entering the program, marrying a citizen may not help his or her cause. However, those participating in DACA may have had access to advanced parole. This allows individuals to return to their country of origin and then reenter the United States at a later date.

In September 2017, advanced parole was removed as an option for DACA participants. Thus, people would also need to go through an interview process to gain a visa to enter the United States. The visa is only granted if it can be shown that a United States citizen spouse would suffer hardship if the undocumented individual was not allowed back into the country.

Those who are participating in the DACA program may have questions about their immigration status and how they may be able to become permanent residents. An immigration attorney may be able to help answer those questions. In some cases, marrying an American citizen may allow a DACA participant to begin the path toward obtaining a green card. If permanent residency is established, an individual may have increased rights such as the ability to work or have access to government benefits.

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