How can someone from another country become a US citizen?
In some limited situations, persons who are married to U.S. citizens or can qualify for permanent resident status can avoid deportation. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 were passed to deter fraudulent marriages entered into for immigration-related reasons. Its major provision declares that aliens whose immigrant status is based on a marriage of less than two years are conditional immigrants. To remove their conditional status the immigrants must apply at an U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office during the 90-day period before their second-year anniversary of receiving conditional status. If the aliens can't prove the validity of their marriage, their conditional immigrant status may be terminated and they may become deportable.
The special circumstances that might allow a person to avoid removal are highly technical. An experienced immigration attorney should be consulted.Deportation is a complex issue that many immigrants cannot understand, especially if they are expected to gain all the necessary knowledge through a relatively small window of opportunity. Finding an immigration lawyer or service is probably the best step anyone facing deportation can take. In larger cities with significant immigration populations, there may be organizations in place to help immigrants. Contacting local bar associations may be a useful first step in finding lawyers who specialize in immigration law, including those who charge reduced fees or no fees at all.
Among the ways to avoid deportation are the following:
In certain cases, immigrants can apply for waivers from deportation if they can prove that deporting them would pose an undue hardship (the government uses the phrase "extreme hardship") to his or her spouse, children, or parents. (This assumes that these relatives are either U.S. citizens or LPRs). The granting of a waiver depends on the reason for deportation, and immigration officials have considerable leeway in making a decision.
* Cancellation of Removal.
If someone who is already an LPR is targeted for deportation, he or she can apply for a cancellation of removal from the United States. The individual must have been a resident of the United States for at least seven years and an LPR for at least five and cannot have committed any serious crimes (called "aggravated felonies" by the government). It is helpful if the person has family ties to the United States, has a good employment history or owns a business, has engaged in community service, has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and has no criminal record (or has been rehabilitated if a criminal record exists). In short, if the person displays "good moral character," it weighs in his or her favor. Non-permanent residents can also apply for cancellation of removal, but they must have been in the United States for a minimum of 10 years. (This is done in part to prevent illegal aliens from marrying American citizens simply to stay in the United States.)
* Suspension of Deportation.
This is another means by which an illegal alien can apply not only to remain in the United States but also obtain LPR status. Again, family ties, good moral character, and the threat of hardship are key factors. (The United States only issues 4,000 cancellation of removal and suspension of deportation grants per year.).
If an alien is allowed to stay in the United States on any of these grounds, the deportation order will be canceled and the case will be closed.