How to help your spouse or fiancé immigrate to the United States
US citizens and legal permanent residents or green card holders can petition to bring their husband, wife, or fiancé into the United States. A common miss belief is that if you are married or engaged, you can bring your fiancé or spouse into the US and they will automatically receive a green card. However, spouses and fiancés must follow a process similar to that of any family member that you are sponsoring on an immigration petition. The immigration process for spouses and fiancé’s can be just as complicated as other immigration processes, but the approval process may be faster than that of most family-based preference categories.
Immigration for your spouse or fiancé is a multistep process that starts by your immigration attorney preparing and submitting the proper forms and supporting documentation. If you are a US citizen, your fiancé will need to use immigration form I – 129F. Only United States citizens may petition for their fiancées. A green card holder or US citizen may petition for their spouse to immigrate to the United States. They would use immigration form I – 130 along with the other required forms and documentation to petition for their spouse to immigrate to the United States. In either event, you, as the petitioner, will need to demonstrate that you qualify as an immigration sponsor for your spouse or fiancé and you will need to be prepared to prove the existence of a bona fide relationship between your fiancé or spouse to the United States Customs and Immigration Service.
Your spouse or fiancé will not be able to enter the United States until their petition is approved by immigration officials. Working with an experienced immigration attorney is the best way to ensure that you will be reunited with your loved one as quickly as possible.
Fiancés of green card holders
United States immigration law currently does not allow green card holders or legal permanent residents to petition for their fiancés. Unfortunately, this means that you must wait until you are married before filing an immigration petition for your betrothed. Even after you are married, your spouse will likely be subject to a wait time based on their immigration preference category. In many cases, green card holders will wait several years before being reunited with their spouse.
Green card holders petitioning for their spouse should be prepared for a long wait. This weight can be made even longer if the immigration petitioner does not properly complete the immigration forms and supply all of the required documentation to the USCIS. As with most United States immigration processes, spouses and fiancés will go through several stages and must subject themselves to medical examinations, fingerprinting, personal immigration interviews, in addition to, submitting all of the required forms and documentation and receiving approval from multiple United States government agencies.
A word about immigration fraud
immigration fraud is a serious crime in the United States. Not only can you end up being deported, but you can also end up spending years in prison if you’re caught committing immigration fraud. This is another important reason why you should work with an immigration attorney to bring your fiancé or spouse to the United States legally.
A common form of immigration fraud is when the immigrant uses a tourist or other temporary visa to enter the United States with the primary purpose of getting married to a US citizen or green card holder. If immigration officials find fraud, your green card will be denied at a minimum. So, do not use this technique to shortcut the immigration process. It is perfectly fine to use a tourist visa to come to the United States to visit your spouse or future husband or wife, but don’t do it just so you can be married in the United States while you are here.
Another common form of immigration fraud is to marry someone who is a US citizen or sometimes a green card holder for the purposes of gaining legal status in the United States only. Never give or
A passport with the American flag in the background take money in exchange for a promise to marry someone for a green card.
Eligibility for marriage or fiancé visas
The requirements to obtain a fiancé visa in the United States are different from that of a marriage visa.
Fiancé Visa Eligibility
To qualify for a fiancé visa, the immigrant must:
- intend to marry a U.S. citizen
- have met the citizen in person within the last two years, and
- be legally able to marry.
The immigrant must also be coming from another country. Fiancé visas are not issued to people who are already in the United States.
During the fiancé visa application process, you will need to prove your actual intention to marry your fiancé. Usually, a statement signed by both future husband and wife is enough, but sometimes you will be asked to supply specific details about your wedding plans. You should also expect and plan for proving that you have a bona fide relationship with your fiancé to United States immigration officials. This means that you will have to supply records of telephone conversations, emails, love letters, photographs, and other documents proving that you have a relationship with your future husband or wife prior to your immigration petition is approved.
One of the primary requirements to receive a fiancé immigration visa is that you prove that you have met your fiancé within the last two years. This means that you will have to show things like plane tickets, hotel receipts, dated photographs, and other documents proving that you met your fiancé face-to-face sometime within the last 24 months. For some couples, this can be a big problem. If you cannot afford to travel to see your fiancé or if there are other circumstances that have prevented you from meeting your fiancé within the past two years, immigration officials will likely deny your petition without regard to why you could not meet your fiancé. In some cases, with the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney, you may be able to show extreme hardship or a cultural custom as a reason for you not meeting your fiancé within the required time period.
Marriage-Based Visa (Green Card) Eligibility
To be eligible for an immigrant visa, or green card, based on marriage, the immigrant must be:
- legally married (it doesn’t matter in what country) to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- not married to someone else at the same time, and
- not married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who already has another wife or husband.
Additionally, immigration officials will ensure that it is not a sham marriage. You will have to prove that it is a bona fide marriage. The first step in doing that is to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. This can create problems for some couples because US immigration officials will usually demand that the marriage certificate be from a governmental agency and not from a church or other religious organization that performed the ceremony.
Even if you have an official government marriage certificate, you should be prepared to prove your marriage in other ways. Some examples of how to do that are, statements from a joint checking account or other banking statements, joint investment accounts, joint property deeds, birth certificates of children born of the marriage, photos or videos of your wedding ceremony, emails, love letters, and telephone records.
Are you admissible to the United States?
Another reason to consider working with an immigration attorney is that they can determine whether you are admissible or not to the United States on an immigration visa. In some cases, an immigration attorney can help you overcome reasons why you may be inadmissible to the United States. A couple of common reasons why you would be inadmissible to the United States is that you have a criminal record, a communicable disease, or you have passed US immigration violations.
The green card application process
Once you’ve worked with your immigration attorney to overcome the initial stages of the fiancé visa or marriage visa application process, you will need to apply for a green card or adjustment of status. Most green cards issued as a result of a fiancé visa or marriage visa application will come with conditions imposed by United States immigration officials. Typically, there is a two-year period in which those conditions are imposed after which you may request that the conditions be removed from your green card. In some cases, such as where spousal abuse is present, the conditions can be removed even though the marriage was dissolved before the two-year period elapsed.
Working with an immigration attorney
Working with an immigration attorney is generally the best way to ensure that your immigration petition will be handled properly, quickly, and cost-effectively. If your goal is to be reunited with your loved one in the United States as husband and wife, an experienced Tustin, CA marriage & fiancé visa attorneys gives you the best chance of that happening without running into serious problems. Our Tustin CA immigration attorneys help people solve immigration problems from North Carolina to California and worldwide, we are here to help. Call us today.