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Marriage and Immigration Status

Students who marry U.S. citizens may have questions about their immigration status.

Changing Status to Permanent Residency

Students who marry U.S. citizens may want to file paperwork to request permanent residency.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has excellent information on its website. We suggest that you read the following pages:

Read this information, then write down your questions. You should also review all of the instructions for the forms you must submit. The instructions include important information not found elsewhere about how to complete each form as well as the numerous supporting documents you will be required to submit with some of the forms. Be sure to write down any questions you have about the forms or the documents you must submit with the forms.

If you hold J status and are subject to the two-year home residency requirement, you must fulfill that requirement or obtain a waiver before you can file for permanent residence.

If you are approved for a change of status, please submit a Immigration Status Update request in MyISSS.

Maintaining my F-1 or J-1 Visa

Marrying a U.S. citizen does not require you to change your status. Some students may have scholarships or other opportunities tied to their immigration status that require them to maintain a nonimmigration student visa.

Travel Issues

Once you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may have difficulties returning to the United States because the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP) may think you have the intent to immigrate to the United States to be with your U.S. citizen spouse. This is not permitted for individuals in F-1 or J-1 status.

Also, if you chose to file paperwork to become a permanent resident while in the United States (Adjustment of Status), you cannot travel on your F or J visa. Doing so would cause your I-485 Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident to be abandoned and denied. Instead, you will need to file an I-131 Application for Advance Parole and wait for it to be approved. You can travel freely during the validity period of your Advance Parole document.

If you have any problems with your F or J status, you should speak with an immigration attorney before filing any applications or before traveling abroad.