Marriage Green Cards and K1 visas: 3 minutes read
When it comes to immigrating to the United States, you may wonder “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Actually, if you’re interested in bringing your romantic partner, fiance, or spouse to the United States from another country–love matters a lot. There are special circumstances for American citizens seeking to petition for their other half to come to the United States, and this method is typically faster than other visa types that the U.S. government offers.
However, as with all visas and immigration processes, there are certain nuances and rules to be aware of as you begin to consider this path for you and your loved one. Remember, this information is meant to be general and is not considered legal counsel–you’ll need to contact one of our licensed attorneys for legal advice.
Make it official
Before petitioning for your romantic partner to come to the United States, you’ll need to make it official by either being engaged or legally married. For couples who are married abroad, the US citizen petitioning for their spouse must fill out an I-130 petition to continue moving the process forward. This is a direct application for a green card for the foreign spouse.
While a marriage is a more direct application process, the fiance visa (also called a K-1 visa) is an option for couples who intend to get married and have not yet but can demonstrate a serious relationship together. This is valid when a US citizen is petitioning for a fiance who will arrive in the US from abroad.
If you are not married yet, you will need to show significant intent towards marriage so that your fiance can retain legal status, in fact, within 90 days of entering the United States to be exact you’ll have to legally get married. That’s because the U.S. government recognizes marriage partners as the only possible recipients of the marriage green card. If the couple fails to marry, the visiting fiance will have to leave the United States and return to their home country.
Gather your memories
On either path, you will be asked to show extensive proof of your relationship together, from photographs to letters of mutual friends and family who can attest your love is real and valid. Organizing your mementos in an album can serve as a nice and clear timeline of your relationship, making it simple for a homeland security officer, green card attorney, and other relevant third parties to see the history and validity of your relationship. Photos of you as a couple with other friends and family is also a great way to show how you are a key part of each others lives.
When you get to the interview stage of the marriage green card process, this can be a powerful resource for you to bring to your appointments. Also remember to remain calm, tell the truth, and let your authentic love shine.
Regardless of the path you choose, keep in mind that these processes can take upwards of many months, sometimes closer to a few years depending on the case load with USCIS. While some pretty quick timelines exist for the K-1 visa to get married (90 days!), the processes that follow can take upwards of a year, sometimes two to result in a temporary marriage green card.
Love takes time
Speaking of temporary, the first step for all partners interested in a marriage green card will have to stay married for several years to see this process through. Specifically, once your partner has received a green card based on your relationship, keep in mind that there are conditions attached, as the first one issued will be temporary. Following two years as a temporary green card holder, your spouse can file a petition I-751 for a permanent green card and have the conditions removed. As you can imagine, getting divorced during this process can bring complications to the process or bring it to a halt entirely. As each case is unique, it is best examined by an immigration attorney who can assess and advise on the best path forward in your individual case.
Not sure which path is right for you, or how to get started? Contact our green card attorneys and learn how love can bring your partner here to the United States.
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