MARRIAGE & FIANCÉ VISAS

United States citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) may petition for their foreign spouses to either come to the United States with the appropriate immigration status or, if their spouse is already living here, to adjust their status. United States citizens may apply for fiancé or fiancée visas before they marry. Although the process of getting a spouse or fiancé(e) visa may seem easy, there are obstacles to overcome in the family-based immigration system. The best way to avoid them is by hiring an experienced immigration attorney. Call us today for a free consultation at (419) 867-9966.

For foreign spouses abroad, the primary avenue is as follows:
  • First, the U.S. Citizen or LPR Files A Visa Petition. Citizens and permanent residents can petition for permanent green cards on behalf of their wives or husbands who desire to immigrate by filing a Form I-130 petition. U.S. citizen petitions for their spouses are called "immediate relative petitions" meaning upon approval the spouse moves on to the next step immediately and there is an immigrant visa available to them to use. LPRs are subject to preference categories meaning that there are only so many visa available for these types of filings and there is a wait list. This should not discourage LPRs from filing for their spouses and also should encourage the LPRs to file for naturalization.
  • Once the visa petition is approved and there is a visa available for the immigrant beneficiary, then the beneficiary must submit several more forms and supporting documents to the National Visa Center and then attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Upon completion of the consular interview and approval, the consulate will affix an "immigrant visa" stamp to the passport.
This is routinely called "consular processing." If the foreign national spouse was here in the U.S. and needs an immigration waiver for past violations (such as unlawful presence or criminal violations), then they would submit it at the consular interview. If the foreign national spouse needs a waiver for foreign conduct that cause the consulate to deny their visa application, then they can also submit a waiver at this time.
  • Fiancé(e) K-1 visas: Fiancé(e) visas are temporary visas available to immigrants planning to marry U.S. citizens. The process is very similar to the one above but upon entry into the U.S., the foreign national beneficiary must marry within 90 days and then file to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident. This is a separate application from the initial fiancé(e) K-1 visa petition and the NVC filings and must be filed with USCIS as soon as possible after entry and marriage.

For Spouses in the United StatesWhen a foreign national enters the United States on a non-immigrant visa, overstays that visa, and marries a U.S. citizen, that individual may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status. Even if you believe that your spouse entered the United States "illegally," they may still qualify for legal status through your marriage.

For Fiancé(e)s in the United StatesThere is no process to adjust status. You must marry to attempt to adjust status or file the K-1 visa petition, depart the U.S. and return through the consulate. Clearly this is not a viable option for most and our office does not encourage this practice.

LPR Status (and "Green Cards") for Foreign Nationals in Abusive Relationships: If you could have received U.S. immigration status based on your relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you are the victim of abuse, then you may be able to self-petition using the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows abused spouses, parents, and children and their family members to obtain permanent residency without their U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member's assistance and therefore encourages those who are at risk of physical or emotional harm to get out of harm's way without fearing they will lose their link to the U.S.

Requests for Evidence & Notices of Intent to Deny: In all family visa cases and especially those stemming from marriages, the USCIS routinely issues Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs). Applicants must respond to these within the allotted time and should seek attorney assistance. Often what seems like a simple issue requires a more complicated response than it would seem. Because a denial often cannot be overcome, it is important to get it right the first time. If you receive an RFE or NOID, it is important to seek legal assistance before responding.