In Part One of this series, we broke down a number of common situations regarding marriage and immigration. Today, we’re going to cover two more common scenarios, as well as provide important information to keep in mind during this process:
If you’re married to a U.S. permanent resident and living overseas, the procedure is begun when your spouse living in the U.S. files a visa petition on your behalf.
This is often a lengthy process, but after the USCIS approves the petition, it transfers the case to the agency that issues visas. Visas are granted based on the date the petition is filed. When a visa is about to become available, an interview is arranged for you at the U.S. consulate in your home country. If all goes well, the consulate grants the visa and, pending approval by U.S. Customs, you may enter the U.S.
If you are the U.S. Citizen and you’re petitioning for an immigrating partner, you’ll need to show that your partner will not receive welfare, and you’ll need to promise that you will support your spouse if necessary.
Below are four important principles to keep in mind as you think through this process:
Be sure you understand the regulations before you get married. For instance, it would seem to be convenient to marry in the U.S. while you’re visiting under the Visa Waiver Program, but this would generally be considered fraudulent by immigration authorities.
Expect to provide documentation to prove that your marriage is real. Immigration services will want to see proof that you and your spouse are building a life together, such as joint bank accounts, joint tax returns, joint credit card statements, rental agreements or mortgages showing that you live together, and auto registrations demonstrating that you jointly own a car. Photos of you and your spouse together are a good thing to have, especially photos that include the in-laws.
Getting married just to obtain a green card is considered fraudulent and the punishment is severe: up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Marriages where the spouses are widely different in age, income, or education level are more likely to raise eyebrows.
If you’ve been married less than two years when you receive your green card, the green card has a two-year limit. A new form will need to be to be submitted by you and your spouse before the expiration date of the two-year green card in order to get a ten-year green card. If you divorce within the first two years, you’ll need to file for a waiver of the joint-filing requirement.
If you have questions, we can help. Sometimes mistakes can make this complex process even more difficult.
Please contact us for assistance, so that you can enjoy your new marriage instead of worrying about the details of the complicated US immigration code!