TOLL-FREE 604-684-4211

US immigration, marriage and unlawful presence

Everyone who has ever been in love will know that Cupid will not be stopped, and love arrows are sometimes shot when least expected. If someone from British Columbia happens to fall in love with a U.S. citizen while on a trip south of the border, he or she might feel tempted to get married and not return to Canada. However, U.S. immigration laws require Canadians to return to their country within six months.

The Canadian citizen would be allowed to apply for a green card, but not before obtaining a waiver of the unlawful presence ban. He or she must return to Canada for the required interview for an immigrant visa. The ban for remaining in the U.S. past the 180-day mark could prevent re-entry for three years. If the unlawful presence exceeded one year, the ban could be for ten years.

With an application for a waiver of the ban, the Canadian citizen will have to prove that the spouse is a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen and that the separation would cause extreme hardship for the spouse. There is an option to apply for a waiver of the ban without returning to Canada. An application could be filed under the provisional stateside waiver program.

It will be sensible for a British Columbia citizen who falls in love and wants to marry someone on the other side of the border to comply with U.S. immigration laws from the outset. A lawyer who has experience in this field of the law can explain the requirements and assist with preparing the necessary documents. The entire process might run more smoothly with the support and guidance of legal counsel.