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Immigration Issues/Can an F1 visa holder maintain his status after marrying a US citizen?

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Question
Hello. I am a US citizen. My fiancee is in the US on an F1 visa from Iran and has been studying here for almost two years. He intends to continue studying for another 2 years after we get married and his visa allows for this. Is it a requirement that we change his status directly after our marriage or can we wait until he has finished his studies?

He currently works through the university as a research assistant, and I am uncertain how either staying as an F1 while married or switching through a change of status will affect him. Neither of us are in any particular rush for him to gain citizenship. We are a bit reluctant to pay the fees for the application, but we can pull the money together if it is required to apply right away. Is it easier to continue his employment and studies staying as an F1 rather than switching his status?

Please let me know if there is any rule requiring that we apply to change his status immediately after marrying or if we can wait until it is more convenient to file. Also, if there are any specific rules regarding Iranians, please let me know (I believe there are some restrictions on their F1 visas). I do not want to break any rules and get either of us in trouble. I especially don't want him to get stuck outside the US away from me for a long period of time. Thank you.

Answer
Hi,

Normally the immigrant petition and adjustment of status application (along with other applications such as employment authorization and advance parole document application) are filed concurrently with the USCIS after marriage to a U.S. citizen occurs.

However, your fiance can remain in the U.S. in F1 status if you do not wish to consider filing the sponsorship paperwork after marriage. But he should not travel outside the U.S. if you do not want to consider filing the sponsorship paperwork, as F1 status does not allow for intention to immigrate to the U.S.

It is better to file the sponsorship paperwork after marriage, since he will receive employment authorization and advance parole document to allow him to work and travel independently of F1 status about 3 months after all sponsorship paperwork is filed concurrently with the USCIS, and thus we will not need to be dependent on maintaining F1 status.

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Ajay K. Arora

Expertise

I can answer your questions on employment and family-based U.S. Immigration Law. Expertise in various immigration categories includes the following: H-1B, L-1, O-1, PERM (labor certification), EB-1 to EB-3 I-140 employment-based immigrant petitions, family or fiance(e) or spousal sponsorship, visa extension or change of status, adjustment of status, naturalization (citizenship), etc.

Experience

Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

Organizations
American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) full member since 1995.

Education/Credentials
Ajay K. Arora attended Pennsylvania State University and the University of Wales at Swansea (United Kingdom), and earned his law degree at Temple University School of Law, Philadelphia, in 1993. Mr. Arora has practiced Immigration Law since graduation and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 1995.

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