H1B to Marriage Green Card?

Right now uncertainty is a part of life. Will I stay healthy? Will the people I love stay healthy? Will I keep my job?

For people in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas tied to their employment, this is an especially uncertain time. For example, individuals in the US on H1B visas must keep their employment in order to keep their H1B status and lawfully remain in the US. What should you do if your H1B employment may be at risk?

Every week I meet couples made up of a US citizen and an H1B holder. They are in love and they plan to get married, but they are not sure when or where they will get married. Usually by the time they are in my office, they are getting closer to getting married, and a talk with me sometimes is all is takes for people to take the final step to tie the knot. It’s a fun part of my job!

Some people worry about getting married “just for a green card.” Correct–that is not allowed and I won’t help you with your case if the marriage is “just for the green card.” However, getting married now, instead of this summer or next year, because you need to maintain immigration status is not getting married “just for the green card.” It is making a decision for your future based on what is going on right now.

I give couples the example of healthcare. What if immigration status were not an issue? What if you were in a serious relationship with someone who has healthcare through employment but then loses the employment and therefore will lose healthcare soon? What if your partner needs prescription medication? Care for chronic illnesses? Or, an emergency? With these uncertainties, you and your partner decide to get married so that your partner can get healthcare through your employment-based healthcare plan. That is not getting married “just for the health insurance.” It is doing what you need to do to protect someone you love.

That’s the way to look at getting married now so that you can protect your partner’s ability to remain lawfully in the US.

If you or your partner risk losing H1B status in this uncertain time, you should consult with an immigration attorney to find out if there are ways to help you or your loved one stay living and working in the U.S.