It is not uncommon for people in Miami and throughout Florida to meet someone from outside the United States and want to marry them, bringing them to the country to live and work. There are reality television programs dedicated to this process and it is fodder for web content. Still, those who are in this situation might not be fully aware of the rules regarding bringing a fiancé(e) to the U.S. legally. It can be confusing and mistakes are common. When a U.S. citizen wants to bring their fiancé(e) over, knowing the fundamentals is imperative. This can avoid unnecessary or unexpected challenges that can delay or outright end the process.
The rules and time limits for fiancé(e) immigration
For the fiancé(e) to come to the United States legally, the initial step is to get the K-1 non-immigrant visa. The couple must get married within 90 days from the time the immigrant enters the U.S. The situation will be scrutinized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to ensure that it is a “real” marriage and not one that is being used fraudulently to get a person into the U.S. with no intention of a relationship between the parties. In short, it must be a valid marriage with the couple planning a future together in a marital unit.
Once the marriage is completed in that 90-day time-frame, then the K-1 non-immigrant can seek status as a permanent resident, otherwise known as a Green Card. Some couples get married outside the U.S. This is not the same situation as those who would be trying to get a K-1 non-immigrant visa and there is a different process to bringing that spouse to the U.S. to live. In addition to the U.S. resident being a citizen, there are other rules to know. First, the marriage must be allowable under the law meaning that the non-immigrant is not already married and they have met at least once within two years prior to filing. For the latter, there can be a waiver, but it must be shown that meeting violates cultural or social practices in the fiancé(e)’s country or under their religious beliefs or it would constitute extreme hardship on the petitioner.
Other issues like children and the ability to work
A common concern is if the fiancé(e) has children. If the child is under 21, then it is possible that he or she can also come to the U.S. under a K-2 non-immigrant visa. The child cannot be married. They can either accompany the fiancé(e) or come later after the fiancé(e) has come, not before. After the marriage has taken place, the child who is in the U.S. using K-2 can apply for a Green Card, but they must be unmarried when they do. The fiancé(e) can also request permission to work. This is valid for 90 days after entering the U.S.
The non-immigrant visa expires after 90 days and if the couple has not gotten married, then the fiancé(e) could be deported and have challenges when trying to come back to the U.S. It is possible to still get married after the 90 days, but in general, the spouse cannot seek a Green Card for any reason other than the marriage to the U.S. resident.
When trying to bring a fiancé(e) to the United States legal help could be crucial
Given the state of the world today and the ongoing debate about immigration law, the entire process can be worrisome and confusing. People who are in the U.S. legally and want to bring a prospective spouse to the country should ignore the tabloid and televised information they may see and know the facts. Simple mistakes can delay or end the process, so it is wise to have professional assistance from the start. Consulting with those who understand cultural issues and speak their language can be helpful in a legal and personal way. This should be known from the start in trying to reach the desired outcome.