How to Bring My Fiancee to the U.S. | Immigration Law Group, LLC

How to Bring My Fiancé(e) to the U.S — A Comprehensive Couple’s Guide to U.S Immigration

Are you planning to permanently live together with your foreign fiancé(e) is the United States? Well, congratulations! But, before your spouse is allowed to enter the USA, you’ll need to help him or her to secure a K-1 visa.

Navigating through this bureaucratic process, however, is undeniably a daunting task, as it involves a lot of steps with plenty of paperwork to demonstrate whether your application is “bona fide”.  If you want to increase your chances of winning approval for a K-1 visa, it’s recommended to work with a reputable and trusted Immigration law firm.

In this our couple’s guide to U.S immigration, we’ve simplified the process by covering every facet in a step-by-step manner. There’s everything you need to know to secure permanent resident status and citizenship for your fiancé(e).

What is K-1 Visa?

Also known as a fiancée visa, a K-1 visa is basically a temporary visa, which is issued by the U.S Department of State (DOS) consular officer to the fiancé(e) of a U.S citizen for one reason — getting married within 90 days of admission to the U.S  This K-1 nonimmigrant visa is not issued to a fiancé(e) of a U.S Green Card holder. There’s the CR1 visa option, though. However, it takes time to process, typically two years or longer.

To qualify for a K-1 visa, you as the petitioner (U.S citizen) must convince the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agents of your intentions to establish a life together with your spouse. An application perceived as a strategy to obtain an immigration benefit will surely not win approval.

Without further ado, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to bring your fiancée to the U.S:

Step One: Assembling documents to demonstrate your application is “bona fide”

•  Schedule for an in-person meeting with your spouse

Before you start the K-1 visa application process, you should be able to prove that both of you have actually met in person outside the U.S at least within the last 2 years.

This rule does not only apply to couples who met over the internet and fell in love with each without making contact, but also those who have been apart for the last 2 years. And as part of the documentation, you can provide photos, hotel receipts, airline receipts, etc.

There’s an exception to this requirement if you can prove that traveling to meet your fiancé (e) oversees will simply lead to extreme hardship to you. Or, the in-person meeting will be a violation of certain strict well-known customs or religious traditions of your spouse.

•  Confirm you are both legally allowed to marry

Once you have met the in-person meeting requirement, you’ll need to have documents that prove both of you are free to get married in the U.S. If you have been in any previous marriages, a divorce decree, annulment, or death certificate can serve as a proof.

If your spouse already has kids, they may be allowed to come to the U.S only if they are under 21 and unmarried. Also, of course, if they want to come. And if that’s the case, their names should be included in the K-1 visa. But, kids will need a K-2 nonimmigrant visa in order to qualify for admission.

While your fiancé(e) and the kids may be eligible, you should be informed that the kids are not allowed to travel to the U.S before your spouse. Make sure the children travel with your spouse or they can follow to join at a later date. If they will travel later, then it should be within the validity of their K-2 visas.

•  Meet the visa income requirement

As a petitioner, you need to meet a certain minimum income requirement, depending on the state you live in and the number of aliens you are planning on sponsoring. This is a requirement by the government to reduce the likelihood that your fiancé(e) will become a ward of the state. You are required to sign an affidavit pledging your support to your fiancée, and then promise that for at least 10 years you won’t apply for public aid in order to help him or her.

Step two: Filing a K-1 visa petition

The paperwork process to bring your fiancée in the United States starts with filing a K-1 visa petition. But first, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with all the branches involved in the immigration process. There’s the USCIS, the U.S Department of State (DOS), and the Customs and Border Protection.

There are different stages involved, and their nature typically includes thoroughly verifying background and security checks on a couple. Fingerprints, biographic, or biometric data may be required to obtain the criminal history or any other information deemed necessary for visa approval.

When applying for a fiancé(e) visa, your Form 1-129F should be submitted to the USCIS center that serves the area where you live. Your form may be declined if filed at the U.S Consulate, Embassy, or USCIS office abroad.

Here is what you’ll need to do when filing for 1-129F:

•  Download the petition from the USCIS website: Be sure to carefully go through the form instructions before you start filling it out. If anything is not clear or have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult with an immigration attorney.

•  Submit the necessary list of documents to support your petition: In addition to the documents we discussed in step one above; you’ll need to provide documentary proof of your U.S citizenship. Your copies of U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate are sufficient. Another important piece of documents are the passport-style color photographs for both you and your fiancée. However, these photos must have been taken within the 30 days before filing the petition.

Keep in mind USCIS agents may require that some documents be submitted in their original copies, especially original signed forms or letters. But don’t send originals if you are not requested to, otherwise, you risk losing your important documents.

•  Confirm the filing fee: When you’ve completed your petition, you should ensure that your check or money order is the exact amount of the required fee. 

•  Mail your documents: Assemble all the documents and be sure to double check before submitting. When satisfied, you can mail your package to USCIS.

After a petition is submitted, USCIS may mail you a notice acknowledging receipt or requesting additional evidence and information to supplement your petition.

If the documents are convincing enough to establish eligibility, the agents will approve your application. If unfortunately, your form is rejected, then you’ll receive a notification with the reasons for rejection

An approved Form 1-129F will be forwarded to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC), which is responsible for transferring the file to the U.S Embassy or Consulate in your foreign-born fiancée place of residence. You, the U.S citizen, will also receive a case number from NVC.

Step three: Applying for a visa

As soon as you receive a mail from NVC upon approval, you should inform your fiancé(e) to proceed with the K-1 nonimmigrant visa application process and follow the additional instructions such as completing the online application and sending additional required documents. You’ll also be notified of the exact date when your fiancé(e) will be required for the visa interview.

During the scheduled interview with a DOS consular officer, your spouse overseas applying for K-1 visa will need to present the following forms and documents:

•  A valid travel passport: The passport to the United States must be valid for not less than 6 months beyond the anticipated period your spouse will stay in the U.S.

•  Death, divorce, or birth certificates: Include copies of the U.S citizen petitioner as well as the fiancé(e).

•  Medical examinations: The medical examinations are mandatory, regardless of age. Such tests are performed only by panel physician authorized by the U.S Embassy or Consulate.

•  Proof of relationship: Although you had provided this in the first step of the K-1 visa application, your fiancée will also need to do the same to prove that your relationship is indeed genuine.

•  Police reports or certificates: The certificates needed must be from your fiancée’s country of residence. Police reports or certificate from the other countries where she has lived for at least 6 months can also count. This requirement is also applicable to children at least 16 years old.

•  A duly completed Form DS-160: The under 21 children of a K-1 visa applicant may be eligible to apply for K-2 visas. Both your fiancée and the kids will be required to complete Form DS-160. What they’ll need to present during the interview is a printed DS-160 confirmation page.

•  Proof of financial support: Evidence to prove that your spouse will be able to support herself/himself and not become a public charge in the U.S.

It is important to note that these are not all the requirements. The consular officer may require additional information and evidence to make a decision whether your spouse and children qualify for the K-1 and K-2 visa.

Step four: Lawful entry into the U.S (Inspection at a Port of Entry)

While a valid visa issued by DOS consular officer will enable your fiancée to travel to the US port of entry, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll be permitted to enter into the U.S. Your spouse will be required to comply with the U.S Customs and Border Protection rules and regulations.

When he or she arrives at the port of entry, they should provide the documents as asked by the CBP officers. The nature of the process typically involves presenting a traveling passport with visa. If your fiancé(e) has a sealed packet containing documents, the officers have a right to check it and make the ultimate decision.

To avoid surprises at a port of entry, it’s generally recommended for all travelers planning to enter the U.S to visit the official CBP website under travel to check out the key information in regards to admission and entry requirements.  

Step five: Getting Married

After your spouse is admitted to the US, you’ll have a 90 day period to plan and fully legalize your relationship by getting married. It’s best to make this happen as soon as possible because the marriage certificate you receive will be required when applying for a Green Card. Unfortunately, though, this specific period cannot be extended for any reason.

If by the end of this period you have not yet been married, then the temporary K-1 and K-2 visa will automatically expire. This could mean your foreign spouse together with the kids will need to depart from the United States. Failure to do this will be treated as a violation of immigration law, which could affect future eligibility.

Step six: Adjusting of Status (AOS)

With a marriage visa, your spouse is considered eligible to apply for a Green Card. They’ll need to file Form 1-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The children admitted as K-2 immigrants can also apply for a Green Card. Although, they are required to remain unmarried, otherwise, they’ll lose their eligibility.

After filling the application, your wife or husband should check their email regularly. It is because USCIS may mail them a request for additional information or an appointment notification requiring a couple to attend an interview. The interviews will not take much of your time, as they last for about 30 – 45 minutes.

USCIS usually schedules for interviews during the adjustment of status, because they want to fully confirm the documents and information that a couple had submitted on the application.

Interviews also provide the officers in charge of the application an opportunity to see whether circumstances have changed, rendering you ineligible for an adjustment of status.

While each case is different, the AOS process may take 6-8 months. And if at the time of approval the length of your marriage is less than 2 years, your spouse will receive a Green Card with a conditional permanent resident status for 2 years which must be renewed in 90-day window prior to 2 year anniversary of green card issuance.  In all cases, notifications of these immigration benefits are made in writing.

To secure permanent resident status as a conditional resident, your spouse must file Form 1-751 within the last 90 days before their Green Card becomes invalid.

If you have been married to your spouse over 2 years at the time of green card issuance, your spouse will obtain a 10-year unconditional green card.

There you have it! Contact us today or please call us with any fiancee visa questions at (866)691-9894.

Bringing partner to America Visa

How do I remove conditions (I-751) on my 2-year conditional Green Card?

First, check the expiration date on your 2-year conditional green card. You may not file Form I-751 to remove conditions until you are within 90 days of the green card’s expiration date. Both you and your spouse are Joint Petitioners of the application this time around. What this means is that both of you must sign and certify in the Form I-751 that you have still been living together in a genuine marital relationship since you first received the initial 2-year marriage-based green card.  You will need to remember where you lived together for the past 2 years, the application will also allow you to include any new members of the family such as your new-born baby!

What info do I need to complete Form I-751?

You must complete Form I-751 which will ask for your biographic information and your residence history since you last applied.  You will also be asked for your petitioning spouse’s biographic information as well as listing any children you have together.  If you have many addresses to list, there is an addendum to the form where you can list the complete addresses and dates of the additional addresses.  The form is relatively straight-forward to complete.  However, an attorney who can review the form or prepare it on your behalf will ensure you check the correct eligibility category and make sure the application is done right the first time around.

What other documents do I need to prepare for the I-751?

The documents needed are similar to the joint documents you included in your I-485 application a few years ago.  You will need to prove you and your spouse was living together for the past two years since you received your green card.  These documents can include your lease agreement, jointly filed tax returns, joint bank statements, joint billing statements, joint insurance policies, photos together spanning the past 2 years.  When including photos, it is a good idea to also include a caption for each photo that lists the date, event, and location.  For example, 02/14/2019, Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Portland City Grill, in Portland, Oregon.  Also, when including monthly statements, each statement should be provided from the time you received your initial green card to present time.  You can also request letters of support from family or friends who can attest to their knowledge that you and your spouse have been in a legitimate marital relationship for the past two years.

What is the expected wait time for me to receive my 10-year unconditional green card?

Currently, the wait time for your green card to arrive can be 18 months time. In fact, after mailing out your initial I-751, the receipt notice will indicate that you have received an 18-month extension.  During this time, you will be able to continue to work and travel as you would when you had your unexpired initial green card. However, the receipt notice for the I-751 acts as a substitute for your green card. The receipt notice automatically extends your permanent resident status as you await a final decision on the pending I-751. Therefore, you can show this original receipt notice to any prospective employer, or agency that needs to verify your lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.

Can I apply for U.S. citizenship if my I-751 is still pending?

Yes, you can! If your I-751 has been pending for a year, and you are still living together with your petitioning spouse, more likely than not, you will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizen based on marriage for at least three years as a permanent resident. However, you can apply even sooner through the 90-day rule which allows you to apply as soon as 2 years and 9 months from the date your green card was issued. This means that often times, while the I-751 is pending, you can prepare to file the form N-400 for citizenship. Once you are able to attend the citizenship interview, the officer will see that the I-751 is still pending and be able to adjudicate both applications at the same time. This will allow you to continue to process your applications despite the increased delays in I-751 petition processing.

If you have any questions regarding the I-751 application process, call us today at  866 691 9894 to set up a consultation.

Couple near ocean getting married overseas

How to get a Marriage Visa for my Spouse?

You made the leap and married your spouse overseas! Now you are back in the U.S. and want to get your spouse into the U.S. on a marriage visa so she can reunite with you. How do you sponsor your husband/wife and bring them into the U.S.? How long will the process take? What requirements are there and do you earn enough to sponsor your spouse? This post will answer these questions for you.

How do I sponsor my husband/wife to come to the U.S.?

How to get a Marriage Visa for my Spouse? First, you need to be either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident “Green card” holder and already married to your foreign beneficiary spouse. If you married abroad, immigration law recognizes marriages from outside the U.S. so long as you have proof it was registered with the appropriate civil authority. You will need to provide a copy of the marriage certificate and include a certified translation of the certificate before filing your paperwork to USCIS. You will then need to file with the USCIS, form I-130 petition along with the required I-130A for a spouse beneficiary. If it is difficult for your spouse to sign the forms, they are not required to sign I-130A if currently living overseas. However, they will need to provide you two passport-sized photos of themselves that will need to be submitted with the I-130 petition.  Your spouse overseas should also provide a copy of their birth certificate (with certified English translation) and copy of the biographic page of their passport, as well as visa, stamped pages.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you would need to include proof of your citizenship which would be a copy of your U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship. If you are a permanent resident, you would need to provide a copy of your green card. As a permanent resident sponsoring your spouse, the process can take about a year and a half long because you would need to wait until the priority date is current (the date you filed your initial I-130 petition vs. the current date the petitions are being processed listed on the Department of State monthly bulletin).  The filing fee for the petition is currently $535. This petition is sent to USCIS for processing. Thereafter, the immigrant visa processing fee of $325 and the affidavit of support fee of $120 is due online prior to scheduling the interview. After approval, there is another $220 green card production fee.

How Long will the process take to bring my spouse to the U.S.?

Sponsoring your wife or husband from overseas generally can take about a year to complete. After filing the initial I-130 petition at USCIS, expect a wait time of around 8 to 10 months for the decision. Upon approval, the petition is then transferred to the National Visa Center which takes a month. Thereafter, you will need to submit the required immigrant visa processing fee, affidavit of support fee, and submit additional documents and forms such as the I-864 affidavit of support and the DS-260 immigrant visa online application. Your spouse will also be required to take a medical examination testing for any communicable diseases or illnesses. This process can take several months until the interview is scheduled.

What other requirements are there and do I earn enough to sponsor my spouse?

In addition to the required identity documents and marriage certificate, you will also need to provide documents proving you have been in a marital relationship with your spouse even if they are overseas.  These documents can include photos together, travel itinerary, letters of support from family and friends, and even screenshots of chat messages between you and your spouse. If your spouse had any previous immigration violations or criminal history, that can play a major role in determining their chances of getting a green card at the time of interview. Often times, the officer after the interview will request a waiver to overcome certain grounds of inadmissibility. Having a consultation with an Immigration Lawyer near you in Portland, OR will help you determine if any ineligibilities could risk your spouse beneficiary’s chance of approval.

If you are a two-person household, meaning just you living by yourself and your spouse to join you is a household of two. Current federal poverty guidelines indicate that a 2 person household needs to earn at least $20,575. If you do not earn enough income you can ask a co-sponsor to help so long as they independently meet the minimum salary and are a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident and they would also need to provide the proof of legal status as well as three years tax return and w2 statements.

Our firm has helped reunite hundreds of long-distance international couples. For questions about marriage, visas feel free to contact us online or call us at (866)691-9894.

How to apply for Marriage Green Card in the U.S. | Immigration Law Group, LLC

Your Complete Guide to Marriage Green Card in the U.S.

How to apply for Marriage Green Card in the U.S.? When deciding to apply for marriage green card in the U.S., also known as “adjustment of status”, if your husband/wife is a U.S. citizen, and you entered the U.S. legally (generally on a visa), you should be able to file both the I-130 petition and I-485 application at the same time. This post will be your comprehensive guide to applying for a marriage-based green card while you are in the U.S.

Collect Certificates:

You will need to submit copies of your marriage certificate, your birth certificate (with certified English translation), your passport biographic page and all visa stamped pages, your husband/wife’s proof of U.S. citizenship (U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport biographic page, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship).  If you were a student on an F-1 visa, include your I-20 received from your designated school official.  If you were approved by USCIS for a change of status or extension of status since you were in the U.S., you should also provide copies of those documents as well.  You will also be required to provide your I-94 arrival/departure record which will either be retrieved online if you came into the U.S. recently, or you may have a paper I-94 from a long time ago attached to your passport, or one recently issued by USCIS based on a change of status or extension of status approval.

If you or your spouse were previously divorced, you will also want to include certified copies of the divorce decrees, and if the divorce happened outside the U.S., you will also need to include a certified English translation. If your spouse’s previous marriage ended by spouse’s former spouse passing away, they will also need to provide the death certificate.

Collect Joint Documents:

You and your spouse should include all documents that have both your names and same address on it including joint bank statements, billing statements, insurance statements, car payments, utility bills, lease agreement, and copies of your state ID cards/licenses. You can also ask your family and friends to write letters of support that affirm your legitimate marital relationship together.  Include photos together with you, your spouse, and family and friends. This is because of the more people in your photos, the more proof that more people know about your relationship.

Medical Examination (Form I-693):

You must also complete a medical examination and have your certified civil surgeon (doctor designated in your area to administer these USCIS required exams), sign the form I-693. They will seal the results in an envelope marked specifically for USCIS and you will attach this to your application before submitting to USCIS. One tip is you can submit the application without the medical exam results initially and wait until you get your interview scheduled about 6-8 months after filing and obtain it prior to the interview then bring the results on the day of the interview.

Collect Financial Support Documents:

Your spouse is required to sign a financial sponsorship form known as the I-864. They must show that their current annual income is more than the Federal Poverty guidelines for the current year 2019.  Currently, if it is just you and your spouse living together in a 2-person household, your spouse would need to earn at least $20,575 per year to be considered earning enough to sponsor you. You will need to provide your spouse’s most recent tax return including W-2 statement as well as reference the total income from the previous two years before that to list on the Form I-864.

Complete the I-130 Petition & I-485 Application Forms and Mail to USCIS:

Once you have all the documents ready, it is time to complete all the application forms.  The two required application forms are the Form I-130 and Form I-485. Form I-130 is the petition for you that your spouse signs as the U.S. Citizen Petitioner, and you are the Beneficiary. However, as a Spouse Beneficiary, you will be required to complete and sign Form I-130A. This step is typically done first, but in a green card application based on marriage, you can also file the I-485 concurrently (at the same time) as the I-130 petition, cutting your wait time in half. Once you complete the I-485, you can also complete optional form I-765 (work authorization request) and form I-131 (advance parole request) which will allow you to get a temporary work/travel combo card in the mail in about 5 months after filing your application.

As mentioned above, you will also need to have your spouse complete and sign the Form I-864 which will detail his/her past three years income earned and current income including employer information. Once all forms are completed you can put them together attaching them with the copies of documents you collected and include a cover letter describing all the documents that are included in the packet. You must also attach the required filing fees of $535 for I-130 fee, and $1,225 for I-485 fee. You must also provide 2 passport-sized photos of you and your spouse.  Include the form I-693 medical exam results in a sealed envelope. You will then mail it to the required USCIS mailing address that is listed on the government site at uscis.gov. Location may vary based on where you currently reside.

Receive Receipt Notices, Biometrics Appointment and Respond to any RFE:

After mailing out the application, you should receive receipt notices in the mail in a few weeks. Then a few weeks after that, you will get biometrics (fingerprint) appointment notice which schedules you to go to your local USCIS field office to take your electronic fingerprints and photo. This is to get a background check on you prior to the application continuing to process. If your application is missing any required information or the application was not all completed, you may get a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) in the mail asking you to submit the required documents in order for the application to resume processing. If you fail to respond or respond with insufficient evidence, then the application will be denied.

Attend Interview, then wait for the decision:

If you are able to process the application successfully, you should be getting your work permit/advance parole combo card in about 5 months time. Thereafter, it is currently taking USCIS about 6-7 months to schedule interviews for married couples to attend. Once you receive your interview notice, you should then prepare for the documents listed on the notice, such as your IDs, original birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, divorce decrees (if applicable), along with updated joint documents such as jointly filed tax returns, copies of joint banking and billing statements, and photos together since wedding date to current time. Your interviewing officer will ask you questions on your form I-130 and form I-485 and both you and your spouse will be asked about how you met, how you proposed, how you married, and about your marital relationship. For more information see our article about preparing for the marriage-based interview.

If you have any additional questions about this process, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with our Portland immigration lawyer.

Request for Immigration File | Immigration Law Group, LLC

When you or your family member applying for immigration benefits, want to be sure what is on your record from USCIS or the border, our firm can help you request those records.  Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), you are entitled to requesting…