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Can DACA recipients get a Green Card through marriage?

Updated: Jun 14

DACA does not provide a direct pathway to lawful permanent residency or citizenship. Despite this limitation, DACA beneficiaries who are married to an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident have an opportunity to pursue a family-based petition to obtain a green card. The eligibility for DACA recipients to obtain a green card through a family-based petition largely depends on their manner of entry into the United States and their current marital status.


married couple the man kissing the woman in her forehead

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that offers temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to eligible undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. However, it is important to understand that DACA does not provide a direct pathway to lawful permanent residency or citizenship. Despite this limitation, DACA beneficiaries who are married to an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident have an opportunity to pursue a family-based petition to obtain a green card.


Obtaining a green card, or lawful permanent residency, provides numerous migratory benefits. Green card holders have the right to live and work in the United States indefinitely. They can travel outside the country with fewer restrictions and are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting certain requirements. Additionally, green card holders have access to a broader range of job opportunities, educational resources, and legal protections.


The eligibility for DACA recipients to obtain a green card through a family-based petition largely depends on their manner of entry into the United States and their current marital status. Those who entered the country legally and are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident have a clearer path to adjusting their status. Conversely, those who entered without inspection may need to undertake additional legal steps, such as obtaining advance parole, to become eligible for a green card through their family-based petition.



How to get a Green Card if you are DACA beneficiary and are married to a U.S. Citizen?


For DACA beneficiaries married to U.S. citizens, there is a potential route to obtaining a green card through family-based petitions. This pathway depends on various factors, including how the DACA recipient entered the United States and their eligibility to adjust status without leaving the country.


The process of obtaining a green card depends on how the DACA beneficiary entered the country.


If they were admitted legally, even if they overstayed their visa, they may be eligible to adjust their status without leaving the country. This adjustment can be done through an immediate relative petition filed by their U.S. citizen spouse.


If they entered without inspection (illegally), they may need to travel abroad to their home country for consular processing.

  • Can apply for advance parole and get a travel permit, which allows them to travel outside the U.S. and return legally. This legal entry can then make them eligible for adjustment of status.

  • If they applied for DACA before turning age 18 (or 180 days after turning 18), they will have to return to their country of origin and apply for a green card through a U.S. embassy or consulate, similar to anyone living abroad who is applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.

  • If you have no travel permit and over 180 days between turning 18 and applying for DACA, you are required to leave the United States to apply for a green card at a U.S. embassy or consulate. However, this situation subjects you to a bar from re-entering the United States for up to 10 years. To avoid the years-long delay of the re-entry bar, you must first obtain a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver before leaving. This waiver requires you to prove that your U.S. citizen spouse would suffer extreme hardship if you are not allowed to live together in the United States and provide a compelling reason why you and your spouse cannot live together in your country of origin.

  • If you have entered the United States illegally more than once, you may face a permanent bar from re-entering the United States with no possibility of a waiver.

In summary, while DACA recipients married to U.S. citizens can pursue a green card, the path may require additional steps such as obtaining advance parole or applying for waivers. Each case is unique, and legal guidance is recommended to successfully navigate the process.



How can a DACA recipients get a green card if married to a Lawful Permanent Resident?

For DACA beneficiaries married to lawful permanent residents (green card holders), obtaining a green card involves a different process.


If you are married to a green card holder, you cannot apply for a green card from inside the United States. However, if you applied for DACA before turning 18 (or within 180 days after turning 18), you can return to your country of origin and apply for a green card through a U.S. embassy or consulate, similar to applying from abroad for marriage-based green cards.


The process for spouses of green card holders takes longer than for spouses of U.S. citizens. This is because you must wait for a visa to become available in the visa bulletin before the final processing of your green card application can be completed in your country of origin.


If you spent more than 180 days between turning 18 and applying for DACA, you must leave the United States to apply for a green card at a U.S. embassy or consulate. However, you will also be subject to a bar from re-entering the United States for up to 10 years. To avoid this delay, you must obtain a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (Form I-601A) before leaving, similar to the process for spouses of U.S. citizens.


If you have entered the United States illegally more than once, you may face a permanent bar from re-entering the country, with no possibility of a waiver.


It is essential to seek legal advice for navigating the complexities of each of these processes. At Legal en USA, we are ready to assist you in obtaining your Green Card. Just give us a call at +1 305-446-8686, and our team will guide you through the steps and provide the necessary support to achieve your immigration goals.

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