Thank you for taking the time to read this e-book. If you are like most people you are probably a bit apprehensive about the fiancé visa process. You have probably spoken to some friends and done some research online about the fiancé visa process. I trust that this e-book will help you understand how the fiancé visa process really works.
There are some twists and turns in the road when you apply for a fiancé visa. Nearly every case I have handled over the past 25 years has had a problem issue or area that needed to be resolved either prior to or during the fiance visa case. If you handle potential problems correctly, prior to filing your fiance visa case, and you are otherwise qualified then you should have your fiancé here within 7-9 months.
This e-book will give you a general overview of the fiance visa process. This includes: the requirements for a fiancé visa, the exact timeline for a fiancé visa, the documents you will need and the questions your fiancé will be asked at the interview. It also covers other issues which will help you more fully understand the fiancé visa process.
However, it does not cover everything. It cannot as every case is different. The fiance visa process is typically an 8 month process. Prior to filing any documents with USCIS you need to make sure that any problem areas are resolved. You do not want to file a case, wait 8 months, have your interview and then have your case denied due to something which could have been fixed prior to filing.
There are many people who believe that obtaining a fiancé visa is as easy as filing some paperwork with the U.S. government and then simply waiting for their loved one to arrive in the United States one day. Ah, if it were just that easy. Unfortunately, the process is quite a bit more involved. You will learn that obtaining a fiancé visa is really a process which has 3 parts. You will deal with USCIS, the National Visa Center and a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. At the end of the process an interview of your fiancé will be held. (The questions that your fiancé will be asked are listed below.) If all goes well at the interview your fiancé should receive her fiancé visa in about a week after her interview.
Once your fiancé arrives in the United States you will have 90 days to marry her. If this is not done for some reason you need to consult with an immigration attorney immediately
Before you file for a fiancé visa you should review your situation with a competent Immigration Attorney. You do not want to prepare and file your case, handle all the documentation during the process, and then have your case denied due to something which should have been corrected prior to filing your case. A good immigration attorney can help you fix any potential problems before you file your case. Also, a good immigration attorney can review other options with you. Perhaps it makes better sense in your situation to go to your fiancé’s home country, marry her, and then apply for her green card when you return to the United States. Your attorney can help you evaluate your options.
Remember only Attorneys can give legal advice. I receive many calls from people who relied on non-attorneys for advice and have paid a price in lost time (8 months or longer), lost money , and heartache. These cases would have gone much better had the clients consulted with our office prior to filing their case. My office is always willing to talk to you, FREE of charge, about your options.
You may reach us at 888-801-6558 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
View our video on the fiancé visa process:
Table of Contents
1) Requirements for a fiancé visa
2) Timeline for a fiancé Visa
3) Bringing children with you on your K visa.
4) Fiance visa Interview Questions
5) What to do if your case is delayed.
6) Choosing between a fiancé visa and a marriage green card
7) How to choose the right Immigration Attorney
REQUIREMENTS FOR A FIANCE VISA
In order to apply for a Fiance Visa you must meet these requirements:
1. You must be a U.S. Citizen. You, as the one filing the petition with USCIS , must be a US Citizen. A person who is a only a green card holder cannot successfully file a Fiancé Visa Petition. Therefore, if you only have a green card and you are eligible to apply for Citizenship you should apply to become a U.S. Citizen.
However, keep in mind, that a green card holder who applies for citizenship does put his or her green card on the line. This means that you can lose your green card if your citizenship case does not go well. The most likely reason is that the US Citizenship applicant has criminal issues which have come up since he or she obtained a green card. Many times USCIS is not aware of any criminal issues you have had since obtaining your green card until you apply for Naturalization. Once they find out about these problems they may take your green card from you.
Not all past criminal problems will cause you problems if you were to apply for U.S. Citizenship. We can let you know if you will have a problem applying for U.S. Citizenship.
You will prove that you are a U.S. Citizen by supplying USCIS a copy of your U.S. Passport. If this is not available you may supply a copy of your U.S. birth certificate or your Certificate of Naturalization.
2. You must intend to marry each other. You must be able to show USCIS that you and your fiancé intend to marry each other. If this is not your intent then this is not the right type of non-immigrant visa to use. USCIS will require both you and your fiance to sign affidavits under oath. These affidavits will state that you intend to marry each other within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States. In addition, you will also explain how you met each other and how your relationship has developed. You should also provide phone bills, wedding announcements, other invoices showing that you are making wedding arrangements (contracts for flowers, wedding cake, catering etc.)
3. You will also need to prove that you have a bona fide fiancé relationship with each other. This is generally shown through email correspondence, evidence of gifts, receipts and photos of the engagement ring(s), evidence of trips you have taken together, affidavits from family members and friends etc.
In addition, you can help prove the bona fides of your relationship by showing Facebook posts from friends and family congratulating you on your engagement. (Yes, USCIS does know how to use Facebook and they do use it, and other social media sites and other sites (think Google, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) at times, when investigating cases.) Therefore, as an aside, be very careful about what you post on Facebook and other social media sites.
USCIS can use these sites to help make a determination in your case (without you being aware that they are doing this). USCIS believes that these sites give it an excellent vantage point to determine the validity of your relationship.
You must also show USCIS that you are treating your engagement like a typical engagement in your fiancée’s home country. If, for example, in your fiancée’s home country it is typical to have a formal engagement party then you should have one. You need to make sure you comply with the cultural customs of your fiancée’s home country. If this is not done then your case can be denied.
4. You Must Meet Your Fiance-in Person- within 2 years of filing the K1 fiance visa petition. You must have met your fiancée face to face (not via Skype or over the computer) within the last two years. If you were childhood friends but have not seen each other in the past 2 years then you will not meet this requirement.
If you are coming up to the 2 year mark since you last saw your fiance then you should take immediate action.
I recently heard about a case where the two parties had lived together abroad but the U.S. Citizen had moved back to the United States for work. It had been almost 2 years since he had seen his fiance. The case was successfully filed because it could be proved that they had seen each other, in person, within 2 years of the case being filed. (By the time of the interview the 2 year mark had been passed. However, USCIS only cared about the 2 year mark going back from the date the case had been filed.)
In certain instances waivers to the in-person meeting requirement may be available. However, these are not easy to obtain. For example, you may be able to get a waiver to this face to face requirement based on medical or religious reasons. Not being able to afford to visit your fiancé in person is not an acceptable reason for a waiver to this requirement to be granted.
You can prove to USCIS that you have met in person by showing:
Date stamped photos of the two of you together (if your camera does not put the date stamp on the photo automatically then write the date on the back);
Photocopies of dated plane tickets, restaurant receipts, hotel receipts;
Passport pages showing entry stamps to the foreign country where the 2 of you met; and
Signed affidavits by family and friends attesting, under oath, that you have met each other.
Have an immigration attorney review your evidence to make sure it will be strong enough for you to obtain your fiancé visa.
If your evidence is not strong enough it can and should be made stronger prior to filing the case. It is much better to wait an extra 30 days, obtain more evidence and file a much stronger case then it is to file a weaker case early.
5. The U.S. Citizen will have to show that he has sufficient income to support his fiance when she arrives in the United States. The poverty guidelines are promulgated by the federal government and they change every year. It is a rare case when our office cannot figure out a way for you to meet this requirement. Simply call us, free of charge about this issue. We can help.
The income requirement is not very high and it varies based on the size of your household. Your income must be at least 100% of the federal poverty line for your new household size.
For example: In 2018 your income will need to be $16,4600 or higher, at the fiancé visa stage, if your new family size will consist of only you and your fiancé. (At the fiancé visa stage your income will need to be at least 100% of the federal poverty line. However, after you marry your fiancé and apply for the green card in the United States, your income will need to be at least 125% of the federal poverty line for your new household size.) You can check the federal poverty guidelines for your new household size to determine the amount of income you need in order to meet the income requirement.
If you do not meet the income requirement you MAY (or may not be-it depends on the country) be able to use assets which you own to meet the requirements. Generally USCIS will accept 33% of the value of certain assets as the same as income in order for you to meet the income requirement. For example: Suppose you have a home with $100,000 in equity or a bank account with a $100,000 balance. USCIS will likely allow you to claim 33% of this for the income requirement. If the income requirement is only $18,000 and you have no job but $100,000 in the bank (of which USCIS will credit you $33,000) then you will meet the income requirement. These rules change and may not be accurate at the time you are filing your case.
Please speak to an Immigration Attorney before you file your affidavit of support.
If you are unable to meet the income requirement you MAY (not always) be able to get a co-sponsor to help you. (Although at the fiance visa level the certain consulates may not allow you to use a co-sponsor—check with the consulate through your attorney.)
Usually co-sponsors consist of close relatives and very good friends. This is because they will have liability to the U.S. government should your fiance become a public charge (goes on welfare etc.) in any way. The co-sponsor may not have liability to the U.S. Government when filing Form I-134 (though they should check with their own Immigration Attorney to make sure) but a co-sponsor will have liability under an affidavit of support should they file one in support of a green card application. This liability can change but at a minimum will extend for several years.
At the fiancé visa consular processing stage you will be filing Form I-134. You will also need to provide supporting evidence. We can help you prepare your supporting evidence.
6. You must both be Free to Marry. You and your fiancée must both be free to get married (meaning that you are both eligible to get married) at the time you file your petition. Do not file a fiancé visa petition with USCIS if you or your fiancé has a pending divorce. This will not save you any time. On the contrary it will make your case take longer. My advice would be to review any previous annulments or divorces with a family law attorney to ensure that you and your fiancé are, in fact free to marry each other. (Believe it or not some people believe that their divorce has been finalized when in fact it hasn’t been finalized. As a result they are still married to their “previous” spouse.)
It is much better to wait until you know, for sure, that your divorce is final, then to file your case prematurely and have it denied. If your case is denied do not expect to appeal the decision. Rather, you will need to start the whole process all over again.
1. Previous Fiance Visa Cases Can be a Problem. The U.S. Citizen must not have filed more than two fiancée visas in the past nor had an approved fiancée petition in the last two years. If this is your case then your current fiance visa petition will likely not be granted. Once again, a waiver is available but there is no guarantee that it will be granted.
USCIS will notify the person receiving the fiancé visa if the U.S. Citizen fiancé has had 2 previous fiancé visas or marriage visas approved in the past 10 years. If this is your case then you should notify your fiancé of your prior petitions. She needs to be completely aware of your past attempts to bring other fiancés or spouses into the United States. If she is not aware of these past petitions she should be made aware. If she learns of these past petitions at the interview it will look like you do not trust her with the information. The Immigration Officer will not be impressed. It can mean a case denial.
2. The U.S. Citizen cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. USCIS will be looking at the criminal background of the US citizen. The US Citizen must not have been convicted of a variety of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, dating violence, stalking, controlled substance violations and homicide. Just to be safe, if you have had any crime in your past then an immigration attorney should review the matter prior to you filing your fiance visa case. It is better to take the time in the beginning to clear up any criminal issues then to have them come up during the case. You should never lie to
USCIS and you should expect them to know about your criminal history.
Also, your fiancé should be told about your criminal past. It will really hurt your case if, at the interview, your fiancé has no idea that you were convicted of the crime in question. It will really make your relationship seem less bona fide and can lead to your case being denied.
3. There is a 90 day Rule Concerning Marriage. Within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States you will need to get married. Your fiancée will only be able to marry you. She or he will not be able to marry someone else on the fiancé visa if someone else comes along.
If she enters the United States on a fiancée visa and does not marry you within 90 days then she will be expected to return to her home country. Therefore, do not put the marriage off. Marry her within the 90 day period so your fiancé remains in legal status. If you do not get married within the 90 day period then you should consult with an immigration visa attorney immediately. You may still be able to get married and obtain a green card for your fiance in the United States.
Once you get married you can then file for adjustment of status so that she may get her green card. At the same time she can apply for work authorization. At the present time it takes approximately 90 days to receive the work authorization card. Therefore, if you are sure you are going to get married don’t wait until the last minute. Get married and start the green card process so that you can obtain the work authorization card sooner. Many couples decide to do a simple civil wedding as soon as possible in order to apply for a green card. They then plan a more formal wedding with a reception (if they have one) later.
At the present time it is taking about 5 months or so to adjust status from a fiance visa holder to a green card holder in the United States. However, once your fiance applies for her green card she should obtain her work authorization card in about 3 months.
There will be another interview for the green card. If all goes well your fiance will receive a conditional green card. This conditional green card is valid for 2 years. When it is getting close to the 2 year period and the green card is about to expire you will both file a joint petition to remove the conditions on the green card. If you are successful then the green card holder will then receive a permanent green card. If this is not done in a timely manner then your spouse can not only lose her green card she can be removed (deported) from the United States.
4. Your fiancé will also have other requirements with USCIS. Your fiancé cannot be any of the following: a person who is likely to go on welfare; a person with a communicable disease, or a person with a dangerous physical or mental disorder. He or she cannot have committed very serious criminal acts (including prostitution or drug trafficking). These are things you likely want to know before you get married.
5. Past Immigration violations. Your fiancée must not have violated U.S. immigration laws. He or she cannot have used fraud or any other illegal means to enter US in the past. He or she cannot have used fraud or other illegal means to enter the United States. In addition past immigration violations by the non- citizen fiancé can put the K1 fiancé visa process in jeopardy. These would include: violating student visa rules; entering the U.S. without a visa; overstaying a visa; working in the United States without work authorization. You can have our firm review the Immigration history of your fiancé to make sure there will not be any issues in your fiancé visa case. It is much better to deal with these issues prior to filing the fiancé visa.
TIMELINE FOR A FIANCE VISA
This section deals with how the fiance visa process actually works. This is a general guidee to the fiance visa process. This section does not cover every document which will need to be filed in a fiance visa case.
File a Petition with USCIS
This is the first step in the process. The U.S. Citizen will file the petition. (Remember, only United States Citizens, not green card holders can apply for a K-1 fiancé visa. If you are not a United States citizen but would like to become one then click here for information on becoming a United States Citizen)
The form is Form I-129F. It is called the petition for alien fiancee. This form needs to be correctly completed and then it has to be submitted to the correct USCIS local office. You should receive a receipt or a notice of action within about 30 days from USCIS stating that your packet has been received. You will receive a case number.
Then, when USCIS approves the petition, it will then be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). You will receive an approval notice from USCIS that will let you know that your file has been forwarded to the NVC for further processing. You will receive a new case number.
The National Visa Center will then forward it to the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate. After the US Embassy or Consulate receives the petition, your fiancé will be contacted. (You must make sure that your fiance’s correct address is on file.) She should be scheduled for an interview within 2 months and, if all goes well, will be able to receive her K-1 non-immigrant visa.
The consulate will proceed to process the case. Just because the case was approved at an earlier stage does not mean it will be approved at this stage. Each consulate has its own rules and procedures for processing fiancé visa cases. When it is ready to process the case it will forward a set of forms and instructions to your fiancé . The consulate will want several more pieces of evidence (including, but not limited to a medical examination for your fiancé) and its forms to be completed. Make sure this is done correctly and in a timely manner.The documents which will be required can be viewed on the applicable US Consulate website.
You can view these requirements yourself or you can enlist the help of an experiened immigration attorney. You will likely need to provide:
a) a valid passport which will allow for travel to the United States;
b) a divorce or death certificate for any and all previous spouses for the applicant (the US citizen will also need divorce or death certificates for any and all previous spouses).
c) Your fiancé will need to obtain police certificates from countries she previously lived in for over 6 months starting from the age of 16,
d) 2 passport photographs (make sure that these photographs comply with the rules); and
e) Evidence of the relationship between the two of you.
In addition, a medical examination is required for any applicant for the fiancé visa. It does not matter how old the applicant is at the time of the process. The medical examination can be done only by a paneled USCIS approved medical doctor. Your fiancé may also need to obtain vaccinations in order to obtain the visa.
You must be able to prove that you can support your fiancé financially when she enters the United States. This will come up during the interview. You are basically showing the immigration officer that your fiance will not need to receive public benefits in the United States. You are showing that you are able to financially support your fiancee.
The affidavit of support that you will prepare is Form I-134. This form must be turned in with additional evidence, including:
1) (at least the last year’s tax return (maybe the last 3 years of tax returns);
2) W-2s for the years in question;
3) a letter from the U.S. citizen’s bank indicating when your bank account was opened, the amount deposited over the past year, and the current balance;
4) a letter from the U.S. citizen’s employer stating how long he has worked at the employer’s company, his salary, that the job is permanent, and that the chances for continued employment are excellent; and
5) information on the assets of the U.S. citizen).
Finally your fiance will also need to demonstrate that the relationship with you is valid. This can be shown with pictures, e-mails and other evidence. If this is not done properly, even if all of your other paperwork is in order, your case will not be approved. Therefore, take special care in preparing this evidence. You should start gathering this evidence when you first decide to proceed with a fiancé visa.
Bringing Children with you on your K Visa
Children may come with you to the United States but they will be entering the United States with K-2 visas and not a K-1 visa. If your children are eligible then they can travel to the United States with their K-2 visa with you or within one year of when your K-1 fiance visa was issued to you.
This area can be complicated and it is very important that you speak to an immigration attorney to make sure you do not do anything that can cause the children to not be able to come to the United States or NOT be able to STAY in the United States. If children are involved, PRIOR TO FILING ANYTHING definitely enlist the help of an experienced immigration lawyer.
K-1 Fiance Visa Interview Questions.
Your fiance should be thoroughly prepared for the questions that are asked at the K1 fiance visa interview. During the interview the Consular Officer will be asking interview questions. The length of time of the interview will vary based on the strength of the case. If your case is being filed in a high fraud area (e.g. certain African countries and many areas in Asia) or your case is not very strong (e.g. a big age discrepancy, not spending a lot of time together, or a weakly documented case (not a good idea) or if there are other reasons for the officer to be suspicious of your case then the interview will last longer.
The officer will try to assess the following:
1) Whether your fiancé has complete information about her US citizen fiancé and his life. This includes information about his past relationships, family, employment, etc. Basically the Immigration Officer is trying to determine if your fiancé knows things about you which the typical person who would be marrying you should know.
2) Whether your fiance is serious about marrying you. Is this relationship bona fide?
3) Whether your fiance should be inadmissible based on U.S. Immigration Law
The Consular Officer’s primary responsibility is to make sure that a bona fide relationship exists between the US citizen and his fiancé. The questions are designed such that the necessary information can be extracted from the applicants. The best way to pass this interview is to be thoroughly prepared. Your fiancé should know all about you. You should also both go over any and all documents which were filed in your case. You want to make sure you know everything that your interviewing officer is looking at in your case. You want to make sure you know about your fiance’s current employment, marital history, family, residence, and education.
You should bring a complete copy of everything which was filed in the case and any other evidence you have gathered about your relationship since you filed your K1 visa to the interview. Also review the letter which will be sent to you concerning the interview. Be sure to bring everything requested in the letter.
The U.S. Citizen will not be required to attend the interview. If the U.S. Citizen wishes to attend then he should inquire to determine if he will be allowed to attend.
If all goes well then your fiancé visa will be approved. You should receive the fiancé visa within 2 weeks of it being approved. Although some posts will issue the fiancé immediately. Your fiancé will also be given a sealed envelope to give to the U.S. Immigration officials at the port of entry.
Your fiancé needs to make sure she brings both with her when she comes to the United States. The K1 visa will allow your fiancé to attempt to enter the United States as a non-immigrant. Your fiancé can still be denied entry at the U.S. border even with a valid fiancé visa.
The fiancé visa is a one entry visa. Your fiancé will not be allowed to leave the United States and return with the same visa. Your fiancé should marry you and apply for her green card as soon as you both are ready. The green card process is currently taking only about 4 months to complete. Once she has her green card she may travel outside of the country.
If your fiancé absolutely needs to leave the United States for some reason prior to receiving her green card (e.g. a medical emergency of some sort) then you should speak to an Immigration Attorney about your options. Perhaps the Immigration Attorney can obtain an expedited advance parole document for your fiancé which would allow her to return to the United States after the emergency is resolved without going through the entire fiancé visa process again.
General Overview of Fiance Visa vs. CR1 (Marrying your fiancé in her home country and then applying for her green card while she is in her home country) Options.
Why the Fiance Visa Process is Better
The fiancé visa is a faster way to bring your loved one into the United States. The current fiancé visa waiting time, from start to finish is between 6-9 months with 8 months being the most likely amount of time to wait. The fiancé visa should allow your loved one to arrive 3-5 months sooner than if you do a CR1 case. However, the fiancé visa process is a 2 case process. Once your loved one enters with a fiancé visa, you will have 90 days to marry her and then you will need to file for her green card in the United States. The fiancé visa is the preferred way to go if you wish for your loved one to be in the U.S. sooner (even though it will likely cost more overall as you are filing 2 cases); you do not know your loved one as well or your loved one has never been to the U.S. and you are concerned that they may not like living here; or if you wish to have a prenuptial agreement prepared prior to marriage.
Eligibility: You must be a U.S. Citizen, you must be able to marry (not currently going through a divorce); you must have met face to face in the past 2 years; you must be able to financially support your fiancé (and any children involved in the case).
Why the CR1 case is Better
The CR1 (marriage green card when your spouse is out of the country) case will take longer to obtain than a fiancé visa. Generally the wait is an extra 3-5 months. However, if you get married to your loved one and pursue this route there are some benefits. The first one is that you do not need to file for a green card once your spouse arrives in the U.S. as he will arrive with a green card. As you are only doing 1 case, instead of 2 as you are with a fiancé visa, the should be quite a bit less. In addition, with a CR1 your spouse will be able to start working upon arriving in the U.S. With a Fiance visa your spouse may not be able to start working for 3-5 months.
Eligibility: You must be married to each other at the time of filing the case; you can do this case if you are a permanent resident (green card holder); You must be able to financially support your spouse (and any children involved in the case).
These are the main points to consider between the two options. Obviously, if you choose the CR1 option you must, get married, and comply with the laws concerning marriage of the country in which you marry. Be sure to talk to our office before making the decision as to which option would work the best in your situation.
Fiance Visa vs. Green Card (More to Consider)
So you are in love and can’t wait to spend the rest of the life with that special someone. The only problem is that she lives in another country. Should you file a fiancé visa in the United States (and apply for the green card within 90 days of her arrival on the fiancé visa) or instead of applying for the fiancé visa, go back and marry her and bring her into the United States with a green card? This is the question everyone who is considering applying for a fiancé visa should ask themselves. A good attorney can help you balance the pros and the cons of your situation and help you determine which route you should take.
The factors below are some you should consider when making your decision.
While every situation is different, here are ten factors to consider:
1. Does your romantic interest have children who will come with her to the United States?
If she does, it is important to note that children under twenty-one can come to the US as derivatives (K-2) of a fiancé visa (K-1) but that if you get married you have to file the children separately and that you can’t file for step-children if you married the parent after the children were eighteen. By contrast children who enter as K-2’s can file their separate adjustment of status application until they are twenty-one.
2. Are you a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident?
Only US citizens can file both a fiancé visa and a marriage visa. Lawful Permanent Residents (also known as green card holders) may file for a marriage visa only. However, this process generally takes several years to process. It may make more sense, if you only have a green card to obtain US citizenship and then choose between the two options.
3. Where do you want your wedding to take place?
This is an important issue. Your romantic interest or your romantic interest’s family may wish to have the wedding in their home country. If you get married before your romantic interest enters the United States then you cannot use the fiancé visa process. You must do the green card process.
4. Is your romantic interest still in school and do they want to finish school before migrating to the United States?
A marriage case allows you to have more control of the time frame in which your romantic interest will come to the United States. The time constraints are tighter on a fiancé visa and so in this situation a marriage case would be preferable.
5. Does your romantic interest have a “good job”?
If your romantic interest enters on a fiancé visa there will be a longer period of time before they are authorized to work. When someone enters the US after being petitioned as a spouse they enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident and only need to obtain a social security number to work. A fiancé has to enter the US get married and then file for work authorization which takes approximately three months. So if your romantic interest is anxious to work in the United States than a marriage case is probably the better route to take.
6. Have you committed certain crimes in the past?
A fiancé petition specifically asks if the petitioner (you) have committed certain crimes such as domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. If you committed one of these crimes it is very difficult to obtain a waiver and have a fiancé visa approved. These questions are not on the paperwork (petition) in a marriage case.
7. How many times have you met your romantic interest?
You want to show the consular officer who will be adjudicating your case that you have a serious and committed relationship, if you only met briefly on one occasion that is harder to do. In situations like that it is better to return and visit again and then consider filing the fiancé visa or get married while you are there and process the green card .
8. Which process is the quickest to make your romantic interest a lawful permanent resident?
While both ways are about equal in time to enter the United States, a fiancé case can be a little faster (maybe a month or so). However, a fiancé case requires further adjudication in the US that makes the total time frame for a fiancé to become a lawful permanent resident longer (generally, by a few months).
9. Which process is more expensive?
While the government frequently changes the fees required in these types of cases, currently processing for the green card as a marriage case is currently cheaper by approximately five hundred dollars in filing fees to the US Government.
The green card process can also be less expensive as you will only be going through one process. With a fiancé visa you will be going through the fiancé visa process in order to bring your fiancé into the United States and then you will go through the green card process in the United States. Therefore, the fiancé visa process may be more expensive.
However, if you have already met your fiancé the fiancé visa could end up being less expensive as you do not have to fly to your fiance’s home country in order to get married. Basically, you will be saving the airfare and possibly hotel and other fees.
10. Can I just lie to the government and have my fiancé come in as a tourist and marry in the US?
While such an option is tempting, particularly for people from visa waiver countries, it is a bad idea. The people who work for the government are not stupid. If someone who enters as a tourist gets married within a few weeks of entering the United States the officer adjudicating the case will know that they entered the country with preconceived intent to get married and they will deny the Adjustment of Status application forcing the applicant to return to their home country to process the application. In addition, you could be accused of visa fraud and denied entry into the United States for years.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CASE IS DELAYED?
USCIS will let you know how long your petition should take to be processed. If your case is taking longer than expected your Immigration Attorney should be in contact with USCIS. IF you do not have an attorney then you may wish to go online and schedule an INFOPASS appointment at your local USCIS office. There you can talk to a live person about the status of the case and why it is being delayed. Generally an appointment can be had within a few days of making the appointment. If you send a letter to USCIS you will probably not receive a response. Therefore, the INFOPASS method is a better way to go.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY
You Can Always Represent Yourself. The first thing you should know is that USCIS does not require you to hire an Immigration lawyer to process your case. You can always represent yourself in your case.
There are plenty of people who represent themselves in Immigration cases. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not. However, if you represent yourself in an immigration case and the case does not go well then there can be very serious consequences. Depending on the case, the consequence could include removal from the United States (otherwise known as deportation).
Sometimes individuals represent themselves by filing their own paperwork with USCIS and the paperwork is not completed or it is completed incorrectly. In this case, an otherwise acceptable case can be delayed by months or even years. We have been contacted by some very smart people over the years (e.g. engineers, teachers, business people) who filed their own paperwork, made minor errors, and have had their cases significantly delayed due to errors in their paperwork.
If you end up deciding to represent yourself in an Immigration case please realize that a case you consider to be straight-forward, may not, in reality be a straight-forward case. There are traps for the unwary in immigration law.
I receive calls in my office every month from people who tried to handle cases themselves (or hired non-lawyers to help them) who are facing very serious consequences for themselves or loved ones. You should at least consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing any immigration paperwork with USCIS.
Also, please do not rely on the advice of Immigration information officers. (Although you would think that you would always get good advice from USCIS unfortunately, this is not always the case). There are many good and knowledgeable Immigration information officers. However, Immigration information officers are not attorneys and are not in the business of representing you and your interests. They are not experts in Immigration law. More importantly, if you do get bad advice USCIS does not take any responsibility for any incorrect advice you may have received. You will likely be stuck with the consequences of any decisions you make based on relying on any information you receive from immigration information officers. Be very careful in this area.
You can hire a non-attorney to type your paperwork. You can save some money by hiring a non-attorney to type your paperwork. However, you need to remember that every document you file with USCIS, even those that seem harmless, can have legal consequences. You will need to ask yourself whether it is in your best interests to be filing paperwork with the U.S. government, under penalty of perjury, which could affect your family’s future, with the help of a non-attorney. Also, do you really want to turn over your birth certificate , tax return, social security number etc. to individuals who may not be licensed regulated or insured? In our office only licensed and insured attorneys have access to your sensitive information.
Not All Immigration Attorneys have the same level of expertise. Just because an attorney has been licensed to practice in your state does not mean they have the level of expertise to handle your case. Your case is very important and should be handled by an experienced Immigration Attorney. You should ask the attorney questions to determine if they have the experience necessary to handle your case.
What Questions Should You Ask the Prospective Attorney? Before you hire anyone you should ask the attorney these questions:
How long has he been a lawyer? (Some attorneys although they look distinguished, may be fresh out of law school and lacking in practical experience. Generally, although not always, the longer the attorney has been an attorney the better.)
Exactly how long has she been working in the immigration law arena? (Just because an attorney has been practicing law for 30 years does not mean that the attorney has been practicing immigration law that long. Your case may be her first immigration case. You do not want to be a guinea pig).
Is their practice limited to Immigration law or do they handle other areas as well? (Many attorneys handle one or two areas of law. That is fine. I would have concerns, however, if your attorney is handling several areas of law and immigration. It is difficult to stay on top of developments in one area of the law (especially an area which changes as much as immigration law does) let alone several areas at one time. You want an attorney who is handling immigration cases day in and day out.
How many cases like yours has she handled this year?
Was he unsuccessful in any of the cases? Why? (Was it because the client lied or misled him? Or was it due to incompetence?)
You should also ask the attorney for their bar number. You can then contact your state’s bar association and find out if they have had any disciplinary actions filed against them.
How Difficult Will It be to Reach Your Attorney? You should ask the attorney at your first meeting how difficult it will be to reach him if you have any questions. Generally, you can get a good idea by how quickly he has responded to you at this point. Also, factor in how long you have had to wait (and others have had to wait) in order to see the attorney. It is a good sign if the office appears to be run smoothly and the attorney seems to know his clients and their cases. However, if there are files all over the place, the receptionists or secretaries are rude, the attorney does not seem to know what is going on in his practice, or he has not returned your calls promptly so far then he is probably not the most organized attorney and this may not be a good fit for you.
Our office has a 24 hour rule. We try to return phone calls within 24 hours (at the latest). Almost always phone calls are returned the same business day. E-mail responses are done even sooner. We know our clients and are thankful for their business. They are always welcome to call us or to make an appointment to come and see us.
We would be happy to talk to you about your Immigration case. I have over 20 years of experience handling Immigration cases and I practice Immigration law every day. My office would be happy to give you a free, confidential consultation. Please call us at 888-801-6558.
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