Marriage-Fiancé FAQ's
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Fiancé And Marriage Visa Frequently Asked Questions Posed to Arizona Immigration Lawyer John Messing

The following are frequently asked questions about fiancé and marriage immigration visas posed to Tucson Family Based Immigration & Naturalization Attorney: Messing Law Offices

Q. I am planning to marry my Romanian girlfriend. She and I are living together in Germany. We are students. Where do I begin?

A. There are a couple of ways to proceed. You can apply for a fiancé visa and if the USCIS approves your petition, your fiancé can enter the US one time only for the express purpose of a wedding ceremony in the US (and then to stay permanently). After the marriage, you can file for adjustment of status in the US for her. Another way to proceed is to marry abroad and then file for a K-3 visa, which is similar to a fiancé visa or alternatively file for an immigrant visa petition to be issued at a US consulate abroad.

Unless you are earning money or are independently wealthy, you may also run into a problem during the process of applying for permanent residency for her because you need to show assets and/or income to file an affidavit of support, which a student's limited income may make difficult to do.

If you have questions about financial obligations to bring your fiancé over or have other questions, please contact Messing Law Offices (520) 512-5432 for a free brief telephonic evaluation or to schedule an initial consultation.

Q. I want to apply for a fiancé petition. Can I get one and use it to travel to and from the United States? For how long is it good?

A. It is important to keep in mind that a fiancé visa, if granted, will allow you as the fiancé of a US citizen to enter the US strictly for the purpose of marrying. You will be allowed only one entry and cannot go back and forth. The fiancé visa  permits you to stay in the country for only 90 days and cannot be extended if the wedding ceremony is not completed during this period. It is important for your US citizen fiancé to get the timing of the visa petition right, because he or she will be the one who takes care of the paperwork at the start. You will not have any direct role in the process until after the USCIS preliminary approves the fiancé visa, which will enable you to go the US consulate in your country and request a visa appointment. At that time you will be required to submit documentation and forms in support of the visa application.

At several stages during the process, including the initial paperwork submitted to USCIS, and even at the Consulate after preliminary approval has been obtained, you should expect to be asked to provide evidence of the fiancé relationship to Government officials, including that you have met in person at least once in the last two years. There can be exceptions to this requirement in the event of extreme hardship or violation of a long-established custom or religious belief by such a preliminary  meeting. After the fiancé petition is preliminary approved in the US, processing is completed at the US embassy or consulate in foreign fiancé's country. Please take note that the preliminary approval will have an expiration date and it is important to try to have the processing completed before that date, although U.S. consular officials have the legal power to extend this deadline.

Once the wedding is completed in the US, you should apply for adjustment of status as the immediate relative of a US citizen. It is possible to obtain a travel document to travel to and from the US while the adjustment of status is pending, but such travel is generally not recommended, as each time you return to the US, a grounds of inadmissibility may be found which could jeopardize the entire process of obtaining permanent residency.

Q. I am engaged to a Mexican who crossed the border illegally and is living in the US without any papers. Will marriage to him help his situation?

A. Unfortunately, it probably won't. Unless your  fiancé had an amnesty application filed for him back in the late 1990's or in 2001, which is "grandfathered",  the traditional way to overcome the illegal entry is by way of a waiver, which is like a pardon for the fact that he entered without permission.

Waivers can be extremely hard to get and the chances greatly depend on the facts of each case.

Fortunately, in recent years it has been possible to request a provisional waiver from within the U.S., which can avoid the Catch 22 of a relative being stuck abroad without a way to return, if the waiver is not granted.

Also, if your fiancé entered before 2007, is in school or graduated high school, and meets other requirements, DACA may be an option. Persons who obtain DACA if eligible for advanced parole for travel abroad, can leave and re-enter the US. Once in the US, they can apply for adjustment of status without regard to the initial illegal entry. This however is a very tricky undertaking and should only be attempted with qualified and experienced advice from an immigration lawyer.

Please Call Messing Law Offices (520) 512-5432for assistance.

If your fiancé is placed into removal proceedings, depending on the length of time in the US and the relevant family relationships, cancellation of removal may be an option.

Because of the illegal entry, which has both criminal and immigration potential consequences, your  fiancé should only discuss the facts of his case in a private confidential attorney-client consultation. Please call Messing Law Offices (520) 512-5432for assistance.

Q. I am looking to marry my foreign long-term sweetheart, but I don't want a long drawn-out engagement. What else are my options?

A. Another option is to get married and then file a petition to obtain permanent residency for your spouse. You can marry abroad or in the US if your fiancé is already in the country in some other lawful immigration status. If you marry overseas and then file the petition to obtain permanent residency, your new spouse cannot enter the US until processing is complete, which can take time. (There is an alternative K-3 visa which may be somewhat faster but it is not that much faster than the  fiancé visa, which you don't seem to want). Most petitions to obtain permanent residency have to be filed with a USCIS office in the US, but if you are physically present in your new spouse's home country, you may be able to file this petition with a foreign USCIS office. If the petition is approved, your spouse then will need to file for an immigrant visa at the local US consulate or embassy. If your fiancé is already in the US lawfully when you marry, your spouse then will apply for adjustment of status to a legal permanent resident.

Q. I met my future partner on a website for singles. Will this hurt our chances for a visa?

A. Not necessarily. The important point is to show that the relationship is based upon real feelings and is not a sham conducted for an immigration benefit through misrepresentation. Government officials are trained to spot immigration fraud, and you should expect to be questioned about the circumstances of the way you met. Collect correspondence, including email correspondence, birthday and Valentine cards, tickets for trips to visit each other, telephone call records, photographs and any other proof you can gather about the continuing bona fides of your relationship.

Q. My wife is anxious to come and be with me in the US, and I understand obtaining permanent residency from abroad can be a long and drawn-out process. Can't she just come in as a visitor and adjust her status once she is here?

A. Entry on a visitor visa creates a presumption of non-immigrant intent. Your wife will legally be declaring that she does not intend to adjust status to the immigration officer at the border. Even if the question is never expressly put to her, there is a legal presumption that operates against her. If she files for adjustment of status after entering on a visitor's visa, she can later be denied permanent residency by the interviewing officer, on the grounds that the expression of non-immigrant intent at the time of entry was fraudulent. The officer has the discretion to overlook the discrepancy in immigrant intent at the time of entry, but there is no guarantee that this will be the result, and it is not always a recommended course of action.

A K-3 visa, which is like a K-1 fiancé visa, allows a person in your wife's position to enter the US legally with the intent to adjust status, but the K-3 visa processing times have lengthened and in some cases are equal to the wait for a permanent resident visa itself. If K-3 visa processing times are reduced, then it may be a viable option to consider a K-3 visa in these circumstances.

If you have questions about whether to seek a K-1, K-3 or other visa, please contact Messing Law Offices (520) 512-5432for a free brief telephonic evaluation or to schedule an initial consultation.

At Messing Law Offices, we provide high quality legal services and expertise to families, working men and women, and businesses. If you have a concern in the areas of family based immigration, business based immigration, employment based immigration, or naturalization and you are seeking the help of an experienced immigration lawyer, call Messing Law Offices (520) 512-5432 for professional Arizona immigration attorney assistance.