“Fixed Marriage” Ban Does Not Apply To Step-Children

“Fixed Marriage” Ban Does Not Apply To Step-Children

Dear Attorney Gurfinkel:

My father married a U.S. citizen, who petitioned both of us for green cards.  We were able to get our two-year conditional green cards, but when we filed to remove the conditions, tragedy struck.  At the interview, my father and his citizen wife got nervous, and their answers didn’t match.  She eventually agreed with the Officer to withdraw our petitions and even signed a confession that her marriage to my father was fixed.

I know that my father is now subject to a lifetime ban, and no petition can ever be approved for him again.  But I am now married to a U.S. citizen.  Am I also subject to that lifetime ban, or is there hope for me despite my father’s fixed marriage?


Very truly yours,



Dear DC:

U.S. immigration law (Section 204(c)) provides that “no petition shall be approved if…” an alien previously sought a green card “by reason of a marriage determined by the [USCIS] to have been entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, or the [USCIS] has determined that the alien has attempted or conspired to enter into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws”. In other words, if a person is caught in a fixed marriage, no future petition can be approved for them, whether it is through a new marriage that is truly for love or even if they now have a U.S. citizen child who is 21 years of age.  Clearly, your father is subject to Section 204(c).

However, there could be hope for you as the U.S. citizen’s “stepchild.”  Cases have held that stepchildren of the U.S. citizen petitioner are not subject to the bar under Section 204(c).  Therefore, it could be possible for you to be petitioned and for that petition to be approved.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, it could be possible for that citizen to petition you without your being subject to the lifetime ban under Section 204(c).  However, I would strongly recommend that before filing anything, you first consult with an attorney, who can evaluate the case and make sure you are eligible for benefits, you have not been placed in deportation, etc.  But the bottom line is that if a parent gets caught in a fixed marriage, their children (the petitioner’s stepchildren) are not subject to the lifetime ban.


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