Can a DACA Recipient Get a Green Card Through Marriage? 

Can a DACA Recipient Get a Green Card Through Marriage? 



Can a DACA Recipient Get a Green Card Through Marriage? 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, introduced in 2012, provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to eligible immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. As of now, there are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients in the U.S. One common question among DACA recipients is whether they can obtain a green card, specifically through marriage.

Pathways to Green Card: The Role of Marriage

A DACA recipient can potentially obtain a green card through marriage if they’re married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. However, the process and requirements vary depending on several factors, including the immigration status of the spouse and the manner of the DACA recipient’s entry into the U.S.

If the DACA recipient entered the U.S. lawfully – that is, they were inspected by an immigration officer when they entered – they can apply for a green card from within the U.S., a process known as “adjustment of status.” Lawful entry can be achieved through entering with inspection or through the Visa Waiver Program. This also applies to DACA recipients who became undocumented by overstaying a valid visa, provided they haven’t left the U.S. since their initial lawful entry.

Overcoming Obstacles: Unlawful Entry and Re-Entry Bars

DACA recipients who entered the U.S. unlawfully face additional challenges. They must apply for a green card from outside the U.S. using “consular processing” and meet the legal entry requirement. This can be done by applying for Advance Parole, which allows DACA recipients to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad for specific purposes.

However, a DACA recipient who applied for DACA more than 180 days after their 18th birthday and has never traveled on Advance Parole may face re-entry bars of three or ten years. They can avoid these bars by obtaining a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, which requires demonstrating extreme hardship if unable to re-enter the U.S.

Regrettably, DACA recipients who entered the U.S. unlawfully more than once are permanently barred from re-entering the country and cannot apply for a waiver to undo this bar.

Application Process: Steps, Timeline, and Potential Delays

The first step in the process of applying for a marriage green card is for the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse to file Form I-130. Depending on the location of the application, additional forms such as Form I-485 or Form DS-260 may need to be filed. The process of obtaining a marriage green card typically takes 8-14 months.

If the spouse is a permanent resident, the DACA recipient must wait for the I-130 request to be approved before filing Form I-485. If applying from abroad, Form DS-260 is filed with the State Department’s National Visa Center after the I-130 filing is approved, adding an extra 4-8 months to the process. A Form I-601A waiver application may be necessary to cure an unlawful entry and takes 4-6 months to process.

Contact An Immigration Law Firm For Help

While obtaining a green card through marriage is possible for DACA recipients, the process is complex and varies significantly based on individual circumstances. It’s critical to seek professional legal advice to navigate this process successfully. At the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates, P.C., we’re committed to helping you understand your options and guide you through each step of the immigration process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable immigration attorney.


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