EU citizen applying for a Green card under ESTA


I am a French citizen and my husband is a US citizen. I am quite confused about the green card application process, any insight and advise would be extremely appreciated!

Here is our story:

I met my husband 5 years ago on a J1 student visa. After my visa expired, I went back to France to finish my studies while traveling back and forth during vacation times with an ESTA. After graduating, I came back in the US under a new J1 visa for an internship. Then COVID happened, (and this is where it gets complicated), to avoid travelling during the pandemic, I applied for a J1 visa extension, that USCIS declined after 1 year, so I went back to France as soon as I received the rejection letter. My bf (now husband) came to France and surprise me with a proposal this summer. I have now joined him in NYC under an ESTA and we got married.

Therefore, here are the questions;

  1. Is it considered a complicated case, based on the fact that I overstayed in the US while I was waiting to hear back from my J1 visa extension response, (which has been declined after 1 year)?
  2. Can I apply for a Green Card while on a ESTA?
  3. Do I need to hire a lawyer or can I proceed with an online third party such as Simple Citizen?

Thank you so much for your help!

submitted by /u/Bellaxl
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