Fiancé Visas, Spouse Visas and Marriage Visas (K-1 Visa & K-3 Visa)
If you are engaged to or married to a foreign citizen, there are several ways you can bring your loved one to the United States. For many people, it makes sense to work with a San Francisco immigration attorney who understands U.S. immigration law and who can answer your questions, fill out and file your paperwork, and be with you every step of the way.
About the Marriage Visa, Spouse Visa and Fiancé Visa
The United States government provides several avenues for people to bring their loved ones into the country to share their lives. If you are an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, we may be able to help you get a fiancé visa, a spouse visa or a green card for your partner.
K-1 Visas for Fiancés
If you are an American citizen, you may be able to petition the United States government to bring your fiancé to travel to the United States to get married. In order to qualify for a fiancé visa (K-1), you must show the government that you and your fiancé intend to get married within 90 days of your fiancé arriving in the United States. You must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a United States citizen
- You and your fiancé must intend to get married within 90 days of their arrival in the U.S.
- Both of you must be legally free to marry (which means you have documentation that shows you’ve legally ended any prior marriages, such as divorce decrees or death certificates)
- You must have met each other in person at least one time in the past two years, unless meeting would violate your culture’s social norms or would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen involved in the process
This type of visa is ideal for people who wish to get married in the United States and already have plans in place (or intend to make wedding plans). however, for some people, it makes more sense to get married outside the United States and then apply directly for a green card for the foreign spouse. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, you should talk to a San Francisco immigration attorney who can give you the guidance you need.
CR1 or IR1 Visas for Spouses U.S. Citizens
If you’re a U.S. citizen who is already married, but your spouse is located outside the United States, You can petition the government for a CR1 or IR1 visa for your loved one. This visa enables your spouse to enter the United States. (After your spouse arrives, they will be eligible for lawful permanent residency, which gets them a green card.)
A CR1 visa is for people who have been married for fewer than two years, while an IR visa is for people who have been married for more than two years. (CR means conditional resident, and IR means immediate relative.)
K3 Visas for People Who Are Already Married
K-3 visas aren’t the right choice for everyone. These visas are for foreign spouses of United States citizens who don’t wish to be separated any longer than they have to be. These visas are only for people who are waiting for a green card.
However, there are a number of better alternatives for many people. That’s because processing time for this visa takes between six and nine months; there’s also a filing fee associated with it. Often, it ends up being an unnecessary step that simply costs you more money.
Please note that it is important that the application for the K-3 visa must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa has been issued, the spouse can travel to the United States to later begin the processing of the immigrant visa case which results in the green card. Two petitions are required.
About Visas for Fiancés and Spouses of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents
Immediate relative visas are available to spouses, unmarried children under 21, adopted children, and parents of children who are at least 21 years old. Find out more about IR and other family visas here.
It’s important to know that visas enable someone to enter the country. Visas expire, and they don’t offer any special benefits such as lawful permanent residence. After your spouse has a visa, they can enter the country – but you’ll still have to apply for a green card on their behalf so that they can live and work anywhere in the United States.
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How to Get a Marriage Visa, Spouse Visa or Fiancé Visa
To start the process of obtaining a marriage or fiancé visa, contact Warren Law Firm to schedule a consultation. By preparing your marriage documentation in advance, you can make the most of our consultation time. We will evaluate your case and let you know what steps you need to take moving forward but they generally look similar to this:
Your attorney can fill out and file the appropriate paperwork with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for you. Usually, you need Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative, to kick off the process of obtaining a visa for your loved one. If you’re in the United States, your petition stays with USCIS.
If you’re located outside the United States, USCIS will forward your petition to the National Visa Center, or NVC, which is part of the U.S. Department of States.
The NVC will evaluate the petition after you pay your processing fees. Then, you’ll complete an affidavit of support and a number of other documents. Don’t worry, though: your attorney can fill out all the necessary paperwork to get the process rolling. You just have to provide information that helps your lawyer and makes your case to the United States government. Your attorney will be with you every step of the way, too, answering all your questions and ensuring you know what to expect next.
What About Green Cards?
After your spouse arrives in the United States, you can begin the process of helping them obtain a green card. A green card enables your loved one to live and work anywhere in the United States, without restriction. If you have been married for less than two years, your spouse will receive a conditional green card; that means they cannot apply for United States citizenship just yet. However, if you’ve been married for more than two years, your spouse’s green card will not be conditional, and they can apply for citizenship. Applying for green cards and citizenship are two separate processes.
How Do You Get a Marriage-Based Green Card?
Getting a marriage based green card is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Only a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident can petition for a spousal green card. That means the foreign spouse cannot petition the government for themselves (except in very limited circumstances, such as when they are victims of abuse). The person filing the petition for a green card with the United States government is called the sponsor or petitioner. The foreign spouse is called the beneficiary or green card applicant.
For the United States government to approve a green card application based on a marriage, USCIS will attempt to ensure that you are not engaged in a fraudulent marriage – that is, a marriage that you entered just so that someone could get immigration benefits.
To do that, USCIS will ask for a significant amount of documentation that proves your marriage is real. That may include things like joint leases, bank statements from accounts that you share, kids’ birth certificates, shared utility bills, and even wedding invitations and photos from your wedding.
You and your spouse will also have to participate in a green card interview. During this interview, a USCIS official will attempt to verify everything on your application. You and your spouse will be required to answer questions about your marriage, such as where you met, who sleeps on which side of the bed, what activities you enjoy participating in together, and even how your household chores are divided. After you have convinced the USCIS official that your marriage is genuine, the green card application can proceed.
It can take up to 36 months for a marriage based green card to go through the process with USCIS. That means it’s in your best interest to apply as soon as possible after your marriage. Many people choose to work with an attorney during the green card application process. Generally, people find it easier to have a lawyer answer their questions, fill out and file their paperwork with USCIS, and explain each step of the process as it happens.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Obtaining a Marriage or Fiancé Visa for Your Loved One?
Although obtaining a marriage visa or fiancée visa can be fairly straightforward, using an experienced immigration attorney can help improve your chances of approval. The entire marriage visa process can take several months to complete.
To take the first steps in obtaining a marriage, spouse or fiancé visa, like a K-1, K-3 or IR visa, contact Warren Law Firm to schedule a consultation. Our team is always here to answer your questions and provide you with the legal guidance you need to begin moving forward. Whether you are interested in bringing your fiancé to the United States so you can get married or you’re already married and want to bring your spouse home, our law firm can help you and your spouse begin your lives together.
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