F1 Student: Options after graduation? Marriage to American citizen?

Asked over 5 years ago - Phoenix, AZ

Hi, I am an F1 student, about to graduate. My visa expires in a few months. I have been looking at my options for staying in the US.

I am interested in OPT, but am concerned that I may struggle to find a job in this economy and in my field (geology).

My partner (a US citizen) and I are planning on marrying, but have no date set. If we marry, what happens with my visa? Do I need to go home (UK) and apply for a new one? Or am I automatically allowed to stay in the US - if so, what is my status? Is it best to marry before my F1 expires, or can we do it after, during the grace period?

And finally, what do we have to do?! (i.e. sending in forms, etc).
Any advice would be appreciated!

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Evgenia M. Waczewski

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . The best thing to do would be to get married before your F-1 expires, then file I-130 package together with I-485 package and for employment authorization, all at the same time. This way you will make sure that you have no gaps in your immigration status and that all your paperwork is done on time. I-130 and I-485 filed together will give you "pending I-485" status. Plus, you can also file for employment authorization, which you should get within 90 days after filing and then you will be able to work in the US. All this can be done without leaving the country.
    Overall, even if you overstay your F1, with marriage petition this will be forgiven, however, if marriage is anyway a decision you already made, it is best not to fall out of status.
    I-130 package:

    1. Payment as required by USCIS.
    2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-130), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet.
    3. Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
    4. Copy of the full Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen's passport. This is used to establish citizenship.
    5. A copy of petitioner's proof of naturalization. (If applicable)
    6. A copy of petitioner's proof of permanent residency. (If applicable)
    7. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate and/or passport along with English translation. (If in any language other than English)
    8. A copy of your marriage certificate (If not inEnglish then again get a translation)
    9. If either you or your spouse were previously married, submit copies of documents showing that all prior marriages were legally terminated (court certified copies of the petitioner's and/or intending immigrant's divorce documents).
    10. A copy of a prior spouse's death certificate. (If one or both of you were married before, and the prior spouse died)
    11. G-325A (all four pages) filled out by the US Citizen signed and dated
    12. One passport-type photo (see specification) of the petitioner. Write the full name on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
    13. G-325A (all four pages) filled out by the non-US Citzen spouse signed and dated
    14. One passport-type photo (see specification) of the non-US Citzen spouse. Write the full name of the beneficiary on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of (insert name) ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
    15. Evidence of a bonafide marriage

    I-485 package:
    1.Payment(s) as required by USCIS. Be sure to include the payment for both the I-485 and the biometrics fee*. 2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-485), a table of contents. If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet.
    3. Form I-485: Petition for Alien Relative
    4. Copy of the non US Citizen Spouses Passport.
    5. Copy of the non US Citizen Spouses valid I-94 (front and back copies)
    6. A copy of the immigrant's birth certificate along with English translation. (If in any language other than English)
    7. A certified copy of your marriage certificate. (If filing for your spouse)
    8. Two passport-type photos of the Non US Citizen Spouse. Write the full name on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
    9. G-325A (all four pages) filled out,signed and I-693 Medical examination

    You can get all the forms at www.uscis.gov
    Good luck!

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