Originally published in the New York Daily News.

by Allan Wernick
It may be possible to get a green card without a spouse naturalizing, but it would mean applying abroad and getting a waiver for having been in the U.S. unlawfully.



Q: I came here as a visitor from Georgia in the former Soviet Union in 2008. I overstayed because the Russians were bombing my country. My husband is a permanent resident and we have a 3-year-old child born here. What are my chances to get permanent residence?

Name Withheld, New York

A: You can get permanent residence easily if your husband becomes a U.S. citizen. Meanwhile, in May you can apply for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). That’s the Obama program for the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. You qualify because you were here on Jan. 1, 2010, unlawful on Nov. 20, 2014, and you have a U.S. citizen child. With DAPA, you can live here safely, work and maybe even travel abroad.

You might get your green card without your husband naturalizing, but you would need apply abroad and get a waiver for having been here unlawfully. Better to wait until your husband naturalizes and apply here.


Q: My daughter is a U.S. citizen. She has a U.S. passport. How can she get a Certificate of Citizenship? I am a U.S. citizen from birth. My daughter, born abroad, acquired U.S. citizenship through me.

Rosalie, by email

A: To get your daughter a Certificate of Citizenship, file U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form N-600. The filing fee is $600 and the process takes about five months. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver. You can get the form and filing instructions at uscis.gov or by calling the USCIS form line (800) 870-3676.

A U.S. passport is proof of U.S. citizenship for all purposes. Still, some people who get U.S. citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent want a certificate. Occasionally a city, state or federal official insists on seeing a certificate for a U.S. citizen born abroad. Also, the certificate is valid forever. A passport expires after 10 years.


Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship NOW! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email toquestions@allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.


Originally published in the New York Daily News.

Skip to content