Marriage/Fiancé Petitions

Marriage/Fiancé Petitions

Marriage/Fiance Petitions

Getting married is a wonderful life experience and for those with immigrant spouses or fiancés, this is a great opportunity to help your other half obtain a green card. Determining how to proceed can be complicated and there are many considerations to bear in mind. There are three ways to get from engagement to green card.

Fiancé Visa + Adjustment of Status in the U.S.

This process is available when a U.S. citizen has a foreign fiancé and the couple has plans to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.

Pros: the foreign spouse is able to come to the U.S. and quickly obtain work authorization.

Cons: The foreign spouse cannot leave the country while the adjustment petition is pending (except for exceptional circumstances and securing advanced parole to travel).

Also, the foreign fiancé may encounter difficulties at Customs and Border Protection when trying to visit their U.S. citizen fiancé, because officers may not let them enter the U.S. if the officer believes they have an intent to stay in the U.S. permanently. Though there are ways to lessen this risk, it is a risk to consider.

Eligibility

  • One fiancé (the petitioner) must be a U.S. citizen;
  • You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé entering the U.S.
  • You both must be free to marry and any previous marriage must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • You must have met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petitions, with some exceptions.

Cost

K1 fiancé visa filing fee: $535

Visa processing fee: $160

I-485 adjustment of status: $1,140

Biometrics: $85

I-765 application for work permit: $0

Legal fees: $3,500

Porcess

1. File Form 129F Petition for Alien Fiancé K1 visa.

2. Your fiancé is eligible to apply for work authorization
immediately after entering the U.S.

3. You must marry within 90 days and then can apply for
adjustment of status.
and civics test.

4. If approved, the spouse will be able to get a green card.

5. After three years of marriage, the foreign spouse is
eligible to naturalize.

Time

The current processing times are subject to change. Presently, K1 visas are taking 5 months, another few months for visa processing. Then, work permits take about 90 days, and I-485 adjustment of status petitions based on K1 approval are taking 11 months. For the entire process, expect it to take 16-19 months.

One-step Marriage Petition + Adjustment of Status in the U.S.

This process is available when a U.S. citizen or an LPR has a foreign born spouse who is in the United States and has lawful immigration status.

Pros: The beneficiary does not need to leave the United States to adjust status and can apply for work authorization while the petition is pending. Also, if the beneficiary’s visa is going to run out in the near future, a pending adjustment application stops the unlawful presence clock. This is important because when someone has been unlawfully present in the U.S. for more than 180 days they are subject to a 3 year bar before reentering the U.S. If the person is unlawfully present for more than 1 year, the bar is 10 years.

Cons: While the adjustment application is pending, the foreign spouse cannot leave the United States. If an applicant leaves while this petition is pending, they abandon their petition and have to restart the process.

Eligibility

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    (LPR);
  • The beneficiary spouse must be admissible to the United States;
    and.
  • The marriage must be bona fide.

Cost

I-485 adjustment of status: $1,140

I-130 marriage petition: $535

Biometrics: $85

I-765: $0

I-131: $0

Legal fees: $3,000

Porcess

1. File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-485
Applicant for Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent
Resident, I-765 Application for Employment Authorization,
and if needed, I-131 Application for Travel Document
(if needed).

2. In most instances (unless the couple has children
together), the couple will have an interview with USCIS
about the bona fides of the marriage.

3. Receive a decision on the case.

Time

The current processing times are subject to change. Presently the; processing time is 10 months.

Marriage Petition + Consular Processing

This process is required when a U.S. citizen or LPR is married to a foreign spouse who is living abroad. This is also an option for foreign spouses living in the United States with lawful immigration status.

Pros: Consular processing is a much shorter process and higher approval rates.

Cons: If denied, there is no process to appeal it and there are additional travel.

Eligibility

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR); and
  • The beneficiary spouse must be admissible to the United States.

Cost

I-130 filing fee: $535

I-864 Affidavit of Support for DOS fee: $120

NVC visa processing fee: $325

Legal fees: $4,000

Time

The current processing times are subject to change.

Presently, I-130s are taking about 5 months. It takes another 6-8 weeks to transfer the case from USCIS to the NVC and then to the consulate. Then, it takes 1-10 days to complete the consular processing.

Porcess

1. File Form -130 Petition for Alien Relative.

2. Wait for a decision on your petition. If approved, it will be
sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center
(NVC).

3. The NVC will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when
the petition is received and will send an invoice for “fee
bills.”

4. The consular office will schedule the applicant for an
interview. The consular office will process and decide
the case.

5. If the visa is granted, the consulate will provide the
applicant with a “visa packet.”

6. Upon arrival in the United States, you will give the
unopened visa packet to the Customs and Border
Protection officer at the port of entry. You will be
examined by the officer and if found admissible, you
will be admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident.

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