Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants who entered the US without inspection, or overstayed their visas, do not automatically gain US Citizenship when they marry or become engaged to an American citizen. One reason for this is the unlawful presence “Time Bar”. In the late 1990s, Congress decided to punish foreign-born people who spend time in the U.S. unlawfully without a visa, Green Card, or other official permission from the U.S. immigration authorities.
In doing so, Congress created a penalty that prevents undocumented aliens from returning to the U.S. for three (3) years or ten (10) years, depending on how long they stayed unlawfully in the country. In addition, if the immigrant spouse has a criminal record, overcoming the bars to admission may be even more difficult, if not impossible. Continue reading