If you are a U.S. citizen in a romantic relationship with someone from another country, it is understandable that you would want your partner to be able to live with you in the United States. Fortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a couple of options that can make this possible, but it is important that you understand which is best for your situation and the different requirements involved with obtaining either a fiancé or spousal visa.
A fiancé, or K-1, visa is an option in most cases where a U.S. citizen is engaged to a non-U.S. citizen who is currently living outside of the United States. To be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa, you and your partner both must be legally able to marry, you must have met each other in person within two years of your application, and you must intend to marry within 90 days after your fiancé arrives in the United States.
To start the process of obtaining a fiance visa, the U.S. citizen needs to file a Petition for Alien Fiancé, Form I-129F. If the petition is approved, the foreign fiancé will need to apply for a K-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy in his or her country of residence. After your fiancé arrives in the U.S. with a valid K-1 visa, you must marry within 90 days, after which your spouse can apply to obtain a Green Card and become a lawful permanent resident. However, if you do not marry within 90 days, your fiancé must leave the United States or risk deportation.
If you are a U.S. citizen who is already legally married to a non-U.S. citizen, you can apply for his or her Green Card and lawful permanent residency without requiring a visa. To do so, you should file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, along with documentation including your marriage certificate, proof of your citizenship, and evidence that you and your spouse are lawfully married. You may also need to submit an application for adjustment of your spouse’s status if he or she is currently living in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa.
If your application is successful, your spouse can be admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. However, the application process can take some time, and you may choose to apply for a K-3 visa that allows your spouse to live in the U.S. while the application is pending. In this case, you should follow the same steps as you would to apply for a fiancé visa.
At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we understand that the U.S. immigration system can sometimes feel like an obstacle to your family’s ability to live together, and we are committed to helping you take the necessary steps to ensure that you can legally reside and marry in the United States. Contact an Illinois immigration lawyer at 630-473-9685 to schedule a free consultation.
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