Because he entered the country on a C1-D crewman's visa, your spouse cannot remain in the country and be changed to another status. He is presently in the country illegally because his visa's validity has expired. The only method to make him lawful is for him to leave the country and re-enter on a different sort of visa, in your instance, a spousal visa based on your marriage. This could be done by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate outside of South Africa.
In addition, if your husband is granted asylum, which is a form of protection from deportation, then he would no longer be required to return to South Africa. Instead, he could apply for citizenship after residing in the United States for several years. However, this would also require that he can meet the requirements for naturalization.
It is important to understand that although your husband may not be deported, he still cannot work legally in the United States. So even if he is granted asylum, he would need to find some other way to support himself and let his wife and child join him later.
The best option for your situation would be to contact a reputable immigration attorney to discuss your case in more detail. An attorney can help you determine what kind of visa might be available to your husband and also assist with filing necessary documents to prove your marital relationship and ability to pay for an attorney.
It is not suggested that you apply for a green card if you and your spouse intend to stay outside the US forever. If you have spent more than six months outside the United States, your Green Card may be revoked at the point of entry into the country. You should therefore try to work out a solution with your spouse so that she can remain in the US.
He could join her as a permanent resident. They could go back home for good after many years. But this would require him to get a job in the United States and find his own way through the immigration process again.
There used to be a policy of "one-at-a-time", which meant that only one person could receive a green card from the Department of Homeland Security. This was changed with the creation of the Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) program in 2001. Under this program, certain young people who are related to U.S. citizens or permanent residents can be granted temporary residence permits. These permits can be extended indefinitely if the youths pursue education or employment opportunities in the United States.
The SIJ program has two main requirements. First, the youth must be under 21 years old. Second, at least one parent must be a legal resident of the United States or have been granted permanent residency status.
In any case, if you divorce after two years of marriage, you will most likely be permitted to stay in the US. Keep in mind that your divorce may have an impact on more than just your eligibility to stay in the nation. The divorce might also have an influence on visa applications for any relatives you were supporting to come to the US. You should discuss with an attorney whether or not you need to leave the country immediately following your divorce.
You must remain in the United States while your application is being processed. If you leave the United States, USCIS will consider your application to be abandoned and will refuse it. Consult your immigration attorney or ISS if you need to leave the country while your application is being processed by USCIS.
If you have been married for less than two years at the time of your interview, USCIS will grant you a conditional marriage green card. After two years of marriage, you can apply for a permanent marriage green card.