The Toughest Question On The I-485 For Marriage Green Cards (And How To Answer It)
Have you ever violated the terms and conditions of your non-immigrant status? That’s the question that I’m going to deal with today.
I’m Josh Goldstein, an immigration lawyer, and I help people just like you get work visas, green cards, and citizenship.
You’ll find this question on form I-45, part 8, question 17. And it is a real bugaboo. It blows my clients’ minds, and it trips people up. They get all twisted into a pretzel over this, and I have lengthy conversations with them about it.
About that question…
It often comes into play for people who are getting green cards through marriage. Let’s say you have a husband or a wife who is a U.S. citizen, and you’re going through the marriage-based green card process in the United States. When you’re filling out form I-45, you have to answer all the questions on that application. And one of the questions is whether you’ve violated the terms of your non-immigrant status.
The answer doesn’t matter
And the answer is that it doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s a yes or no question, but the answer doesn’t matter. Let me explain why. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, whether you violated the terms of your non-immigrant status is irrelevant.
In other words, if you came in as a visitor and you worked without authorization, or you stayed in the United States beyond the authorized time for you to be in the United States, you violated the terms of your non-immigrant visa status. But it doesn’t matter. You can still get approved for a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen because it’s not going to be a derogatory factor at all.
The challenge with answering that question
The problem is that my clients don’t know that, and they’re not convinced of that. So, if they’ve worked without authorization or they’ve been in the United States, and they haven’t maintained their non-immigrant visa status, they’re very reluctant to answer, “yes” to that question.
But actually, the bigger threat to their immigration case is giving false information to USCIS. So, if they’ve worked without proper permission and they say “no” to the question about violating the terms of their non-immigrant visa status, that answer is not accurate. And they could get tagged for misrepresentation.
How to handle that question
Most of my clients have worked without authorization. Most of them have failed to maintain their non-immigrant visa status. Answering, “yes,” to that question is accurate. It’s not going to be a problem for you. Don’t fear it, and just embrace it. Go with the “yes.”
Say, “Look, I worked before my work permit came in.” You won’t have any difficult questions about this at your green card interview. And the answer is usually true or accurate, at least for many of my clients.
If you’re applying for an employment-based green card…
There’s one more thing I have to say about this. If you’re applying for a green card based on something other than marriage to a U.S. citizen, failing to maintain your non-immigrant visa status could be a huge deal. So if you have an employment-based case, it could affect your eligibility for a green card.
What you should do
But if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, then my concern is making sure that you accurately answer that question. And I would encourage you to consult with your lawyer about whether the answer to that question really should be “yes,” because that might be the correct answer for you.
I hope this is helpful. If you have questions about this aspect of the marriage green card process or any other questions, I want you to get in touch with me. You can ask a question in the comments below, or you can email or message me and get in touch with me that way. I’ll be happy to help you out.
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