Legal Guide

Sponsoring a Fiancé or Spouse for a Visa or Green Card

Navigating living arrangements as a U.S. citizen or legal resident can be a breeze when you're married to a fellow citizen or a permanent resident. However, if your spouse or fiancée is not a U.S. resident or citizen, things get a bit more complicated. 

Don't worry, though. This expert guide is here to shed light on the process of sponsoring your non-U.S. partner for a visa or green card in America. Keep reading to get all the crucial information you need to know.

The Process

Sponsoring a spouse or fiancé for a U.S. Visa or Green Card involves several steps. It is initiated by a U.S. citizen or resident hoping to bring their loved one to the U.S. through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Two primary forms are involved in this process; Form I-129F and I-130. Form I-129F, also known as the Petition for Alien Fiancé, is exclusive to U.S. citizens who wish to bring their fiancé to the U.S. On the other hand, U.S. citizens and Green Card holders can use Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to establish their familial relationship with their spouse.

One crucial distinction between these forms is that only U.S. citizens can bring their fiancé on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Non-citizens or Green Card holders can only apply for a spouse's Green Card if they are already married.

Potential Setbacks 

Annual limits exist on the number of Visas or Green Cards issued to spouses. This quota can lead to a waiting list, especially for countries with high demand. While waiting periods were not as significant in early 2023, this can change.

"Visa fraud seriously affects a person's eligibility for a Visa or Green Card. For instance, entering the U.S. on a tourist visa with the sole intent of getting married can be considered visa fraud and have severe repercussions on future immigration attempts. But, it does not mean it is illegal to want to marry if you came on a tourist visa. You only need to navigate the process a little more cautiously," says Attorney Mario Godoy of Godoy Law Office Immigration Lawyers.

Eligibility for Fiancé and Spouse Visa

For the K-1 Fiancé Visa, the eligibility criteria are quite specific. The immigrant must have genuine intentions to marry a U.S citizen and have met this person in person within the last two years. Additionally, they must be legally free to marry, meaning they should not be in an existing marital union with another person. 

The USCIS might require applicants to provide evidence to substantiate their claims, such as plane tickets, photographs together, love messages correspondence, or wedding ceremony contracts to prove an ongoing, genuine relationship and intent to marry.

For a spouse visa, the eligibility requirements include being legally married to a U.S citizen or permanent resident. The immigrant spouse should not be married to someone else in their country of origin, and concurrently, the U.S. citizen or resident should not be in another marriage. 

Proof of this marital relationship is crucial and might include documentation such as a governmental marriage certificate from their country. Additional items of proof can include joint bank statements or children's birth certificates.

A Lawyer Can Help

There are no guarantees when submitting a petition for a spouse or fiancé Visa or Green Card. Inadmissibility can result from factors such as a criminal record or communicable diseases, and there may be other reasons for denial. Hiring an immigration lawyer can help navigate these complexities and potentially increase the chances of approval for your petition.

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