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Immigrating Through Marriage

Lawful Permanent Residency through the marriage to a U.S. citizen is the most common way for immigrants to achieve citizenship. The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986 allows immigration officials to criticize cases for marriage in depth. They ask for extensive amounts of documents before granting fiancée(s) marriage visas. The repercussions for marriages that deemed fraudulent can vary from monetary fine, criminal prosecution, permanent visa restrictions, and possible deportation.

A petition must be filed for US citizens wishing to marry a fiancée outside the US to get a visa approved. The U.S. citizen has to provide documentation that he/she has been in a relationship with the fiancé(e) for a least last two years before the filing. Generally, the longer the couple has been together, the stronger the cases will be. Relationships developed through the internet are intensely scrutinized.

The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act requires foreign fiancée to disclose all of their criminal backgrounds. The fiancé(e) or spouse will be questioned about the US citizen’s criminal record outside the presence of the US citizens spouse to demonstrate that there has been full transparency. The case will most generally be disregarded if the alien fiancée or spouse is not aware of the US citizens criminal background.

If the case is approved the fiancé(e) will obtain a K-1 visa or a K-3 visa to enter the US. The fiancé(e)s must marry within 90 days of arrival into the US and then very soon after, apply for his/her Green Card. If the couple divorces before the Green Card application is received, the application cannot be transferred to another spouse.

The immigration process in the US can place a unique strain on marriages that can often lead to divorce. Nonetheless, the immigrant spouse, until he/she receives authorization for employment and a social security card, is and will be dependent on the U.S. citizen spouse.

by: Urban Thier & Federer, P.A.

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