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Law Office of Bobby C. Chung


HOW DO I HELP MY FIANCEE OR SPOUSE IMMIGRATE TO THE UNITED STATES?


To consult an immigration lawyer, please call us at (626) 642-8066 or email us at info@bccvisalaw.com. An attorney in our office would be happy to assist you.

How Do I Help My Fiancee or Spouse Become a US Permanent Resident (i.e., Green Card Holder)?

A US citizen who decides to marry a foreign national can take different paths to help his or her fiancee get permanent residence. One option is to marry overseas. If you marry overseas, you can then file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative for your new husband or wife. If you choose this option, when the petition is approved, your new husband or wife will be processed for an immigrant visa by the US Embassy or Consulate, and will then enter the US as a permanent resident.

In certain situations, while you are physically overseas, you may be able to file the petition with a US Consulate or overseas USCIS office rather than with a USCIS office in the US. Check with the US Consulate in each specific country for more information. Another option is if your fiancee is already in the US in another lawful temporary status and you want to get married in the US. While you may marry and file the Immigrant Petition for him or her, there may be additional requirements that he or she will have to meet before being able to adjust status to permanent residence in the US.

One other option is the fiancee visa, if your fiancee is overseas and you want to get married in the US, or he or she is in the US and wants to depart the US and return to get married. This visa acts as a bridge to permanent residence for your fiancee—it lets him or her enter the US for 90 days so your marriage ceremony can take place here. Once you are married, your new spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the US while the USCIS processes the application. If you choose this option, the US citizen spouse needs to file a Fiancee Petition with the USCIS. If you choose this option and if the USCIS approves the petition, the USCIS will send the approved petition to the US Embassy or Consulate nearest your fiancee’s foreign place of residence. The Consulate will then invite him or her to apply for the actual fiancee visa.

What are the basic eligibility requirements for a fiancee petition?

Only a US citizen can file a fiancee petition. In your petition you must prove that:

• You are a US citizen;

• You and your fiancee intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancee arrival in the US;

• You are both free to marry; and

• You have met each other in person within 2 years before you file this petition unless:

1. The requirement to meet your fiancee in person would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancee’s foreign culture or social practice; or

2. You prove that the requirement to personally meet your fiancée would result in extreme hardship to you.

What if my fiancee is already in the US in another status and we decide to get married now?

A fiancee visa is only available to a person who is outside the US, or will be leaving the US and then returning as a fiancee. If your fiancee is in the US and entered using a visa other than a fiancee visa, and you marry, then you may file an Immigrant Petition for him or her as your husband or wife. He or she may be able to apply for permanent residence (i.e., green card), along with your petition.

If your fiancee is in the US and entered unlawfully, while you can get married and file the Immigrant Petition for him or her, in most cases he or she will not be able to apply for a marriage green card while in the US. In this situation, he or she will have to pursue an immigrant visa at a US Consulate overseas. Keep in mind that foreign citizens that accrue 180 days or more of unlawful presence in the US are generally prohibited from returning to the US for 3 to 10 years upon departure regardless of being married to a US citizen.

What if we are engaged but have not yet decided to marry?

The fiancee visa is a temporary visa that simply lets your fiancee enter the US so the two of you may marry here. It is not a way for you to bring a person here so you can get to know one another, or spend more time together to decide whether you want to get married.

If we choose the fiancee visa option, how does my fiancee get permanent resident status?

First, your fiancee will enter the US with a fiancee visa. Next the two of you marry. You will need to get married within the 90-days that his or her status lasts. As soon as you get married, your new husband or wife may apply for a marriage green card.

What happens if we do not get married within 90 days?

Fiancee status automatically expires after 90 days. It cannot be extended for any reason. Your fiancee must leave the US at the end of the 90 days if you do not get married. If he or she does not depart, he or she will be in violation of his or her immigration status. This can affect future eligibility for immigration benefits.

We want to make plans for our wedding. How long will this process take?

The USCIS cannot guarantee a processing time. Every case is different and the number of cases the government receive varies. To be fair to all applicants, the USCIS processes fiancee cases in the order they receive them. The USCIS cannot pull a case out of order to accommodate wedding plans. In addition, once the USCIS completes processing, the US Consulate must process your fiancee for a visa; so factor this into your plans.

My fiancee has a child. May the child come to the US with my fiancee?

If the child is less than 21 years old and is not married, a K2 visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of your fiancee’s children on your fiancee petition.

Can my fiancee work in the US while here on a fiancee visa?

Your fiancee may apply for a temporary work permit after he or she is admitted to the US based on the fiancee visa. However, it will expire when status expires 90 days after entry. As a practical matter, it usually makes more sense to marry and include an application for work permit with the permanent residence application. Your fiancee can apply for permanent residence as soon as you marry.

What if my fiancee uses a different kind of visa, or enters as a visitor without visa, to come here so we can get married?

There could be serious consequences. Attempting to get a visa or enter the US by saying one thing when you intend another may be considered immigration fraud, for which there are severe penalties. Those penalties include restricting a person’s ability to get immigration benefits, including permanent residence, as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years. It is not appropriate for your fiancee to enter the US as a visitor with the intent to marry you and remain to try to become a permanent resident. It is appropriate, however, to enter as a visitor to have the wedding in the US and then return to a foreign residence for further processing for US immigration as a spouse. You should come prepared with proof of your clear intentions in this regard.

What are the marriage requirements in foreign countries?

  • Marriage in China

  • Marriage in France

  • Marriage in Hong Kong

  • Marriage in Indonesia

  • Marriage in Italy

  • Marriage in Japan

  • Marriage in Malaysia

  • Marriage in Philippines

  • Marriage in Poland

  • Marriage in Russia

  • Marriage in Singapore

  • Marriage in Spain

  • Marriage in South Korea

  • Marriage in Taiwan

  • Marriage in Thailand

  • Marriage in Vietnam




  • THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE IS NOT TO BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. SUCH INFORMATION IS INTENDED TO EDUCATE MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC GENERALLY AND IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS TO INDIVIDUAL PROBLEMS. READERS ARE CAUTIONED NOT TO ATTEMPT TO SOLVE INDIVIDUAL PROBLEMS ON THE BASIS OF INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN AND ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO SEEK ADVICE FROM AN EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION LAWYER REGARDING SPECIFIC CASE SITUATIONS.

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