Marriage to a U.S. citizen does not grant legal status to anyone. There have been many cases of spouses of U.S. citizens who are trapped outside the United States for over 10 years with no waivers available to them because of the immigrant spouse’s past immigration conduct. The immigration laws can be very harsh and the fact that you have children is not a qualifying reason for waivers in most applications for immigration relief. Judges and even consular officers look at having children as a “voluntary act” and you knew what you could be getting into when you’re married to someone who is undocumented. You are deemed to have assumed the risk of being separated because of immigration down the line. I find in most circumstances, it usually better to file a case for the spouse if a spouse qualifies to at least have the petition in the system, which may buy a time and leniency with the immigration judge if the immigrant spouse is picked up walking their child home from school, shopping at a grocery store or as part of an employer worksite raid. Having a pending case in the system may even deter an immigration hold, detaining the immigrant, and referring her to immigration proceedings when someone is pulled over for a minor traffic violation and it’s discovered that there’s no immigration paperwork pending and no legal status. With a benefit pending, this could buy time to fight your case. Always talked to a qualified immigration lawyer about the pros and cons of filing your case before you go forward.