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In order to obtain a green card for your fiancĂ©(e) (herein after referred to as fiance) , if he or she is not in the United States and you would like to get married in the U.S., you must apply for a K-1 non-immigrant visa for your fiance. In this case, you would be the petitioner, and you must be a U.S. citizen with the intention to get married within 90 days of your fiance entering the U.S. Once your fiance arrives here and you get married, then your new spouse will be able to file the adjustment of status application to obtain their green card.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not necessarily that easy, considering that there is a lot of documentation required to prove that your relationship with your fiance is legitimate. An agency that is in the business of finding spouses for U.S. citizens such as an international marriage broker is not permissible and you must be able to declare that you did not meet your fiance in this manner. However, a non-profit match-making organization is acceptable. You will need to save and collect documentation such as travel tickets, phone records, photos, letters, emails and anything else that proves to establish your relationship. Consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your particular situation and to find out exactly what is required.

Another important limitation is that you once your fiance arrives in the U.S., you must get married within 90 days or else it gets a lot more complicated and costly as well. And if something should happen with the relationship resulting in your fiance no longer wishing to marry you, they must depart from the U.S. Should they wish to marry someone else, they would have to leave the U.S. and that other person would have to start a K-1 visa all over again.

Your fiance can bring his or her children to the U.S. as well, as long as the children are under 21 and unmarried. If you already have gotten married to your fiance outside of the U.S., then you can still bring him or her over on a K-3 visa. A similar process exists in both cases where you first have to file the documentation along with the visa forms, wait for the approval, then your fiance or spouse submits some more documentation to the U.S. Consular office in their home country and also attends an interview there.

Now, how long will all this take, you might ask? Generally the visa approval can take about 5 – 6 months if there are no complications and then another 3-4 months for the whole U.S. Consulate documentation and interview process. By being aware up front of what is involved, the lengthy waiting time involved to unite your family will be easier to handle for everyone. If you have truly met the person of your dreams, the wait is worth it!

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Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.