There are multiple visas that someone from another country might use to come to the United States. Individuals who may have initially come into the country with a visa could find that they are unsure what to do when the visa runs out and they have fallen out-of-status. This situation could arise in multiple situations including when someone initially entered the U.S. on an F-1 international student visa.
It is possible that those individuals could feel afraid of what could happen to them should their situation be discovered by authorities. The good news is those who find themselves in this situation may have options. This is particularly true if they are planning to marry a citizen of the U.S.
Someone who is in this situation could find they qualify for permanent residency. This would be accomplished via an "adjustment of status." After marrying a U.S. citizen, someone who was admitted at entry after an inspection, should qualify for a green card since he or she would be an "immediate relative" of his or her spouse.
Other individuals who have fallen out of status may qualify for this same adjustment of status such as the parents of someone who is a U.S. citizen, or children under the age of 21 who are unmarried.
Those who do not qualify will need to return to their home country to undergo an immigrant visa interview.
The specifics tied to adjustment of status are not always clear. It is possible that someone may be eligible without even realizing it. Accordingly, working with an immigration lawyer is often a good idea.
Source: New York Daily News, "Immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens who fall 'out-of-status' can still interview for a green card," Allan Wernick, Aug. 11, 2014