What do I put for my husband's address on Form I-130 when he's in the U.S. illegally?

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Question:

I recently married a man from South Africa, who I met in school. We've both graduated, but he hasn't gone home like he was supposed to. I'm a U.S. citizen, and am trying to fill out a visa petition for him on Form I-130. But what do I put for his address? He lives here with me, but if I put that down, won't I be basically telling the immigration police to come and get him? Should we just put his parents' address in South Africa?

Answer:

First of all, using his parents' address amounts to fraud if he's no longer based there, and using fraud could destroy your husband's chances of ever qualifying for a green card -- or later qualifying for U.S. citizenship, if they figure it out then (in which case he could be deported). But the good news is that, so far, putting an address on the I-130 hasn't been used by the enforcement arm of the immigration service. (They're known, menacingly enough, as "ICE," or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

The other important thing to realize is that because you two are now "immediate relatives" and your husband entered the U.S. legally (we presume, on a student visa), you don't have to send the I-130 in separately and wait for a reply. You can submit it in one package with your husband's full green card application -- and as soon as that's turned in, your husband has a legal right to stay in the United States, and can get a work permit, while the application is being decided on. For more information, see How to File a Green Card Application  and Fiance and Marriage Visas: A Couple's Guide to U.S. Immigration, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).

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