What is a Marriage Visa?
A U.S. spousal visa is a family-based visa for foreigners whose spouse is a U.S. citizen or U.S. green card holder. While the green card application is in the process of completion, the spouse of a U.S. citizen can be granted “conditional permanent residence.” At a future date, your spouse may apply for U.S. citizenship. You may be prohibited or unqualified to apply for a marriage visa due to a past criminal record, terrorism, breaking certain immigration laws or having a contagious disease. In order to qualify for a marriage visa, you must possess a marriage certificate from a governmental office and have the ability to prove that the marriage is not a sham with the sole intention of obtaining a green card.
Am I eligible for a spousal visa?
Foreigners are typically eligible for spousal visas if married to U.S. citizens or U.S. green card holders. A foreigner will not be eligible if under any of the following circumstances:
- The married couple were not physically together at the ceremony
- The foreign spouse married solely for the purpose of obtaining entrance into the U.S.
- The U.S. spouse received his or her green card through a past marriage OR
- The U.S. spouse was in the U.S. unlawfully
There is no annual limit to the number of spousal visas the U.S. issues annually issues to spouses of U.S. citizens, but there is a limit on the number of spousal visas the U.S. issues to spouses of legal permanent residents.
Is my foreign newlywed eligible for a visa?
The U.S. generally require 2 or more years of marriage in order to obtain a spousal visa. Yet, spousal visas may be given to those married for less than 2 years on a conditional basis.
What is the application process for a spousal visa in California?
If applying for a U.S. spousal visa, one must under that foreigners do not apply for spousal visas themselves, but rather, their U.S. spouses petition to “sponsor” them.
First, the U.S spouse must submit a Form I-130 with USCIS for the foreign spouse. If the foreign spouse is in the U.S. at the time of application, the U.S. spouse must submit a Form I-485 in addition to the Form I-130.
After submitting the proper forms, the foreign spouse will receive instructions on how to complete the application process. More often than not, the foreign spouse must appear for an interview with immigration officials.
At this interview, the foreign spouse must present proper documents to the immigration officials to demonstrate that the marriage is not solely for immigration purposes. These documents include the following:
- The civil marriage certificate
- The completed Form G-325A
- Passport-style photos of both the American and foreign spouse
How long does it take to get a spousal visa?
Spousal visas take up to one year to process.
How much does a spousal visa cost?
A spousal visa costs $535, although additional charges may be added, depending on the circumstances.
Is/are my foreign spouse’s child/children eligible to come to the U.S. as well?
A foreign spouse’s child or children may be eligible to come to the U.S. on a K-4 visa.
What is Fraudulent Marriage?
A marriage is considered legitimate if you and your spouse got married with the intention of creating a life together. However, a marriage will be considered fraud if your decision to marry your partner was made on the basis of attaining a green card.
There are ways for the USCIS to decide whether or not a marriage is legitimate; If a couple has been married for less than two years since receiving a green card or since immigrating to the U.S., USCIS will test the couple for up until two years to make sure that the couple is not committing marriage fraud. USCIS may interview the couple or their friends and request that they submit documentation proving that they live together.
USCIS seeks the following characteristics when determining whether the marriage is fraudulent:
- The age difference between spouses is ten years or more
- A spouse has married outside of his or her religious and/or ethnic background
- The couple lives in California and has requested that the marriage remain confidential
- The American spouse has previously married an alien who sought permanent residency or acquired their citizenship through marriage to a U.S. Citizen
- The spouses have different addresses
Do I need an immigration attorney?
You may need an immigration attorney if you are unsure about the requirements and whether or not they are met. USCIC processes complete applications faster so getting an immigration attorney may help speed up the process of receiving your visa. The immigration attorneys in Pride Legal’s trusted network are here to help you through the process and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
If you or a loved one has any questions or concerns regarding obtaining a marriage visa, contact a Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Immigration Attorney today for a free case consultation.
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