Here are some important things that I want to share with people who are considering immigration options...
Legal Permanent Residents ("Green Card" holders)
Once upon a time, "Legal Permanent Resident" (LPR) meant you were allowed to stay in the United States permanently (as long as you did not commit serious crimes). The old "green cards" did not have any expiration date. Now, the newer "green card" (which is no longer green in color) expires in 10 years. And you must renew your green card before it expires.
However, since "Legal Permanent Residents" are considered "aliens," they can be deported any time they violate immigration laws. Therefore, in a sense, it is a temporary status with a 10-year duration.
You can easily lose your LPR status if you stay outside the United States for a considerable time. If you plan to reside outside the U.S. for more than six months, consult with an immigration attorney.
Unlike U.S. citizens, LPR's can be deported for many reasons, usually crime related issues. For example, multiple drunken driving charges can result in a removal proceeding. Multiple DWI/DUI charges can result in a felony charge. However, depending on the severity of the DWI charge, only one bad incident of DWI can lead to deportation.
Green Card Through Marriage
Many people falsely believe that marrying a United States citizen will automatically legalize their immigration status. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE AND DANGEROUS.
The most important part is that the marital relationship must be truthful.
1. You must not pay or get paid to seek immigration benefits.
2. You must not get married to "help" a friend. You must marry this person to live and maintain a normal marital relationship. You should never "help" a friend because you feel sorry for their situation. You may find yourself being charged with "fraud" even though your intentions were good.
* One of the observations that I made is that those who marry a foreign national may doubt the sincerity of their new spouse. "Is this person trying to take advantage of me because of the immigration problems?" These doubts can escalate and surface when the couple has arguments. A foreign national who marries for the right reasons may get tired of his/her USC (United States Citizen) spouse's accusations and doubts. Sometimes, this doubt can trigger anger and frustration. Sometimes the USC spouse may manipulate or abuse the foreign spouse based on his/her "power" over the foreign national spouse. TRUST, which is the most valuable trait of a successful marriage, is broken between the couple. Therefore, no couple should enter a sacred union when there is any doubt regarding the intention. It can be destructive for both parties.
3. As for any other immigration cases, if you do not have a legal way to legalize your status, don't do anything. It is better not to seek any immigration benefit rather than commit fraud.
4. You must marry a person for the right reasons. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, so do not take advanatage of anyone. The right way is that you marry a person because you love the person and he/she happens to be a United States citizen. The United States citizen spouse should petition for his/her foreign spouse because it is a necessary step to stay together. If any other reason or intention exists, the couple should never enter into a marriage.
5. Marrying a United States citizen spouse may not be a solution for all your immigration violations. Unlike many beliefs that just marrying a United States citizen will get you green card, a foreign national must also fulfill all the eligibility requirements to become a legal permanent resident.