What are the Three Main Immigration Options to Be with My Fiancé or Spouse in the U.S.?


[The following is the full transcript of the blog video: What are the Three Main Immigration Options to Be with My Fiancé or Spouse in the U.S.?]

Hello, this is Erick Widman, I’m an Immigration Lawyer. And in this video, we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite topics, one of the most commonly asked questions I get, and that is, how can I be in my special someone who’s from another country be together for the long term. So how can a foreign national be together with a US citizen in the US, so I like to break it down in three main categories. First option, we’ll call it is the fiancé visa option. Second option is the adjustment of status option following entry as a visitor, lots of caveats, and that one, and the third option is an immigrant visa for your spouse. So if you’re already married, the last two options are the ones open to you. If you only have a fiancé, you can do the fiancé visa, but after you’re married, you can’t do the fiancé visa. Okay, so option number one, you have a significant other, and you want to be together and you’re planning to get married. So a solid option for you to consider is the fiancé visa, for your foreign national fiancé. You have to be a US citizen petitioning for your girlfriend or boyfriend for your fiancé. There’s a number of other key requirements. But in this broad overview, I just want to emphasize that the processing time is typically a little faster. For the K one visa for years and years, it used to be nine months, as opposed to 12 months, which is more like now with COVID. And some other difficulties with the current administration, you’re looking at, we’re telling our clients about a year to get the initial k one Fiancé Visa approved. And then your fiancé is able to use that visa to come on into the US and get married to you within 90 days has to get married to you no one else. There really no exceptions to allowing a person to stay here in the US if she or he does not get married to you. So that has to happen. And then you will proceed your foreign national spouse you’re just married, we’ll go ahead and adjust status in the US, which is actually if you’ll notice, the second option, Adjustment of Status. So the fiancé visa is the more expensive of the three options overall in terms of filing fees, it also takes longer on a pathway to a green card, because you’ve got to do the fiancé visa petition and get a visa first. And then you’ve got to move forward, your new spouse has to move forward with adjusting status and filing more paperwork within the US to get his or her green card. Okay, that’s the fiancé visa option for being together with your special someone. Option two is Adjustment of Status after entry as a visitor. Now, this has a number of legal pitfalls you got to watch out for, because you’re effectively cutting out step number one, and going straight to the Green Card process, which saves time and money and don’t have to wait up to a year being away from your fiancé. But the adjustment of status option is not available to those who have the intent to adjust status. So you got to watch out, you would commit visa fraud if you plan this ahead of time. This Adjustment of Status following entry as a visitor visa is only available if you genuinely didn’t have immigrant intent coming in. But you truly changed your mind you move from non immigrant intent to immigrant intent. After being here, it could be changed circumstances your fiancé could propose. But it has to be a genuine change or you’re going to get in big trouble. And you could be banned for years from the US and you won’t get your green card. But it’s a great option for those who are married to a US citizen and enter on the Visa Waiver Program. That’s possible to do adjust status if you have a US citizen spouse, or you enter as a visitor on a visitor visa. Okay, in this broad overview, let’s get on to option number three and that is an immigrant visa for your spouse. This option also takes about a year similar to the current processing time for a K one visa. But one nice benefit of this approach is that compared to the fiancé visa where someone only comes in to get married to you and doesn’t have work authorization immediately. Once a foreign national comes in on an immigrant visa for special She or he immediately has work authorization. They come in, they get a green card stamp in their passport. And even though the plastic green card will show up three to four weeks later, your new green card holding spouse, the permanent resident status spouse has the ability to work immediately and immediately becomes a permanent resident upon entry into the US. Very nice, very convenient. But it’s a long wait time to be away from your spouse. So it can be a miserable experience to get married, only to be separated for a year or more. It’s very difficult to travel with a pending immigrant visa for spouse petition out there with us cis because they know your foreign national spouse does have immigrant intent and so it’s difficult to overcome that barrier that issue with CBP at the border. So there’s an overview of the three main ways to be with your special someone.

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