Marriage-Based Immigration Lawyers in Inland Empire

Providing Sound Legal Advice For Clients Applying for a Fiance Visa to the U.S.

Getting married is an important and exciting life event for many people. But when your significant other is a foreign citizen, marriage involves much more than picking out a wedding venue or deciding on the color of your bridesmaids’ dresses. U.S. laws give American citizens and their foreign fiances a very small window of opportunity to get married and start their lives as a new couple, meaning the foreign spouse will not only be going through the major life event of getting married but will also be starting their life in a completely different country as a new immigrant.

The attorneys at Espinoza Law Group explain how marriage-based green cards work in the United States and the steps you can take to bring your significant other to the country in order to get married and start a life together. For advice concerning your specific case, contact the immigration lawyers at the Espinoza Law Group by calling 213-667-0701 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case.

How Can a U.S. Citizen Bring a Foreign Fiance to the United States?

The process that allows a U.S. citizen to bring a foreign-born individual as their fiance to the United States is very specific and requires the U.S. citizen to petition for their alien fiance in order for that person to receive a K-1 visa. A K-1 visa is not a green card nor an immigrant visa; it is actually a special category of nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign citizen to enter the United States with the single purpose of getting married to a U.S. citizen.

The foreign fiance will typically receive the K-1 visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country of origin. Before they are allowed to receive the K-1 visa, they must undergo a lengthy application process that typically requires the submission of a variety of documents, a medical exam, and an in-person interview with a consular officer. Once the K-1 visa is granted, the foreign citizen is allowed to travel to the United States.

What Happens After You Receive a K-1 Visa?

After you receive the K-1 visa through your home country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you are allowed to travel to the United States and enter the country as a nonimmigrant. Once you are admitted, you will have up to 90 days to get married to your U.S. citizen fiance. If you do not get married during this time, you must leave the country or be subject to removal proceedings, as a K-1 visa does not allow you to file for adjustment of status on any grounds other than marriage to a U.S. citizen.

If you do have a marriage ceremony during the 90-day period, you are considered an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen spouse and may apply for a green card through a process called adjustment of status. This requires the submission of form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with a significant list of additional documents and supporting evidence showing that you have entered into a bona fide marriage with a U.S. citizen. If your application is approved, you will receive a green card with a conditional status, meaning it usually is valid for two years. After that period, you will need to apply to remove the conditional status of your green card and receive a permanent green card.

 Can a Foreigner With a K-1 Visa Bring Their Family Members to the USA?

If you are getting married to a U.S. citizen and are applying for a K-1 visa, you may bring your unmarried children to the country by applying for a K-2 visa. A K-2 visa holder is a derivative applicant, meaning their eligibility for a green card depends on their parent getting married to a U.S. citizen.

K-2 visa holders are considered nonimmigrants and are also subject to a 90-day maximum period after being admitted to the United States. In order to obtain a green card, the parent of the K-2 visa holder must marry a U.S. citizen within the 90-day period. After that, both the K-1 visa holder and their children with a K-2 visa may apply for an adjustment of status and be granted a conditional green card at the same time.

 Will You Lose Your Permanent Resident Status if You Get a Divorce?

If you obtained a green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, getting a divorce may not necessarily affect your ability to continue as a lawful permanent resident. If you already have a permanent resident card valid for ten years (meaning you have successfully removed your conditional status), filing for divorce should not affect your immigration status.

However, if you file for divorce during the first two years of your marriage, you are still considered a conditional permanent resident. That means the USCIS is still evaluating whether you have entered into a bona fide marriage or whether your marriage was fraudulent and took place only to allow you to obtain a green card illegally. While it is possible for a legitimate marriage to fall apart within the first two years of the relationship, the USCIS may place additional scrutiny on your status as a permanent resident. You may need to provide sufficient evidence to show that your marriage was legitimate before the relationship ended. You may want to consult an immigration attorney to learn more about how divorce may affect your status as a conditional permanent resident.

How Do I Obtain a Green Card for My Spouse?

The K-1 visa process applies to unmarried couples who wish to get married in the United States. If you and your spouse are already lawfully married in another country, the process to obtain a green card for your spouse is different. Both U.S. citizens and permanent residents may petition to bring their spouses to the United States.

If your spouse is currently lawfully present in the United States, you will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, at the same time. If your spouse is still in your home country, you will first need to submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once the petition is received, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country will handle the processing of your spouse’s visa.

Why Should I Speak to an Immigration Lawyer About My Case?

Bringing your significant other to the United States is a major decision, and the process of obtaining a green card requires extensive documentation and multiple steps. By working with a skilled immigration attorney, you can maximize your chances of success and ensure your case goes smoothly. If you or your future spouse wish to obtain a marriage-based green card, contact the Espinoza Law Group at 213-667-0701 for a consultation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can help.