Legal Question in Immigration Law in Illinois

How does one become naturalized?

I have a scenario with my boyfriend who will be an illegal alien shortly when his visa expires. He plans to stay in the states because he has an important job as a manager. The company knows that he will be illegal and has taken the measurements to keep him with the business despite this. However, the business is also taking advantage of this because they know that he would not be able to change jobs when not being a citizen, which will take place in a a matter of a few weeks. They have cut his pay dramatically. Is there any way that he can get naturalization? I have considered marriage as an option for us but we don't live together and I understand that this process is actually quite difficult and if they think that there is any foul play he could be deported back to Mexico and I could be incarcerated. I also wanted to inquire about what the penalties of marriage (and petitioning for citizenship) when he is illegal.

Asked on 8/09/00, 8:13 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Larry L. Doan Law Office of Larry L. Doan

Re: How does one become naturalized?

To clarify, one cannot become naturalized as a US citizen unless he is first a permanent resident (green card status) for 5 years. So, the question is how can he get his green card. But first, what kind of visa does he have now since he's working as a manager? If he came in on a work visa such as an H-1, L-1 or NAFTA, or something like that, he might be able to get that visa extended. Then he's good to go for a few more years. I suspect that your boyfriend has an H-1B visa and he was petitioned for by this company to come and work for them. That visa can be extended for a length of 3 years with a maximum of 6 years. If he is here on a tourist visa, he's not supposed to work in the first place.

As for the permanent residence application, since his current company won't help him, maybe he can get another company to sponsor him for another position. This process currently takes quite a few years of waiting through the backlog before he could even get a green card.

A real marriage between you and an illegal alien is never unlawful. You can petition for his green card (not citizenship) right away after you're married. If the marriage is real and you can demonstrate that you two have a genuine life together, the process is not difficult at all. Yes, the INS might be suspicious and scrutinize it carefully, but it's not too difficult with good professional help. Please contact my office for this.

Liem Doan, Esq.

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Answered on 9/14/00, 1:14 am

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