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Helping You Make Your American Dream Come True

Helping You Make Your American Dream Come True

DACA recipients and marriage green cards

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is one of the more controversial programs in the federal immigration system. The citizenship rules regarding marriage throw another confusing wrinkle into the process. Marriage provides a layer of protection for New Jersey DACA recipients, but it is not a simple pathway to citizenship or green card status by any means.

DACA and marriage

The protections afforded by DACA are confusing because DACA is an executive action related to enforcement rather than a statutory protection. It is a status that pushes people who came to the United States as children to the back of the processing and potential deportation line. But the protection does apply to other parts of the immigration process including marriage.

When DACA recipients marry American citizens, they are able to apply for legal status like legal green card holders. They are also able to apply for legal status if they marry green card holders but then wait in their country of origin. The process often takes less than a year.


The process gets significantly more complicated for those who waited past the 180-day cutoff to apply for DACA protection. These individuals are sometimes barred from entering the United States for ten years if they crossed over the border illegally and did not take proper steps to apply for full DACA protection.

They may also be barred permanently if they leave and re-enter the United States multiple times illegally. But in some of these cases, spouses can claim that they would face an extreme hardship if their spouse was kept out of the country. This “extreme hardship” exemption shows that there are often multiple potential pathways to legal status for those illegal arrivals who are trying to legally be with their spouse in the United States.