SAN ANTONIO, Texas. Under the Trump administration’s new restrictions on immigration, couples who are married or those who are planning to get married who also need to apply for a marriage-based green card may find themselves facing additional challenges. Marriage-based green cards permit U.S. residents who marry nonresidents to apply for a green card and residency status on behalf of their spouse. However, for individuals who are poorer and for those who are marrying individuals with prior deportation orders, the process of applying for a marriage-based green card has gotten more complex, and more stressful.
According to NBC News, the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule could potentially impact immigrant couples who are applying for green cards. Under the new rule, individuals who earn 250 percent of the poverty line, will be favored over those with lower incomes. 250 percent of the poverty line is $41,150 for a couple and $62,750 for a family of four. Under the new rule, immigration officers can also negatively weigh a person’s use of non-monetary government benefits, such as Section 8 housing, food stamps, and Medicaid. Critics of the public charge rule say that it creates a “pay to play” system that favors the wealthy over the poor. While the “public charge” rule remains open to public comment. (Citizen spouses can make their comments about the rule here), if passed, it could create added hurdles for couples seeking family-based immigration. Under the marriage-based visa program, the citizen spouse sponsoring a non-immigrant on a family-based green card must assert that they can financially support their immigrant spouse. In order to prove this, the citizen must have some money and cannot be living on government benefits.
But finances aren’t the only hurdle that family-based immigrant green card applicants face. Under the marriage-based immigration green card system, individuals already inside the country can adjust their status when they marry. However, if a person overstayed his or her prior visa or has an order for deportation when applying for the marriage-based green card, the application could potentially risk triggering deportation proceedings. According to the New York Times, some family-based visa applicants are getting approved for the marriage-based green card, only to have ICE arrest them right after their visa is approved, or during the approval process.
Under the Obama administration, rules regarding prior deportation orders were relaxed, meaning that as long as an immigrant spouse did not have a criminal record or any other significant bar to entering or remaining in the U.S., old deportation orders could be lifted and the couple could receive the marriage visa. All of this is under threat now under the Trump administration. And there have been many reports of people getting arrested during their interviews.
So, what can you do to protect yourself if you are considering applying for a marriage-based green card or are in the process of doing so? First, consider speaking to a family visa immigration lawyer in San Antonio, Texas, like the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen. Our firm can review your circumstances and help you evaluate whether a marriage-based green card is right for you. Given the current climate, there are certainly some circumstances where it may be beneficial to avoid making contact with immigration officers.
There are many different ways to get a green card. Marriage-based visas are one way, but there are also several employment-based and skills-based options. If you are thinking of applying for a visa or green card, contact the employment-based and family-based green card lawyers at the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen in San Antonio, Texas today.