According to current immigration law, if an immigrant enters the country legally and marries a U.S. Citizen, that immigrant is allowed to become a legal resident of the United States. This is accomplished when the citizen spouse files a petition in behalf of his or her immigrant spouse who obtains a spouse visa. But what happens when an immigrant comes to the Los Angeles area in an illegal manner? Is there still a way for that person to obtain legal status after marrying a U.S. Citizen?

The answer is yes, but it can be complicated and based on the situation. One couple that is finding this out the hard way faces the possibility of deportation for one of them. The couple met, fell in love and planned to be married. Before they could tie the knot, the 29-year-old woman, a native of Nigeria, was arrested and taken to jail after failing to provide proof of legal residency during a routine traffic stop. Shortly after she was released from custody, the couple was married.

The woman came to the country as a young teenager in the hopes of being adopted by a friend of her family. When that fell through, she was on her own. Now she faces deportation from the country where she has found love. She and her husband are scheduled to appear in court in order to prove that their marriage is authentic.

This woman may benefit from speaking to an attorney who can advise her on her options toward legal residency. With new immigration reform taking place, a lawyer may be able to help her to remain in the country with the man she has fallen in love with and hopes to share her life with.

Source: The Grio, “Undocumented Nigerian woman faces deportation, separation from spouse,” Kunbi Tinuoye, Mar. 18, 2013