Spousal Sponsorship to the United States
An individual who is married or engaged to a US citizen may be eligible to immigrate to the United States on the basis of that relationship. In these cases, however, it is important that the relationship is valid and that the couple can prove it to be valid. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which false relationships are forged for the sole purpose of immigration. For this reason, it can become difficult to get these petitions approved when there is not solid evidence of a true relationship. Therefore, an individual seeking to sponsor a sponsor a spouse, partner, or fiancé(e) to the United States must ensure they are going through the process as effectively as possible by following the right steps . Hiring an immigration lawyer can often be a helpful tool.
How to Sponsor a Spouse to the US
In order for a US citizen to sponsor a foreign spouse to the US, the citizen must prove the validity of the relationship, as well as prove they are financially stable enough to support their spouse in the US. Minor children of the sponsored individual may also accompany their parent.
The two ways in which a citizen may sponsor their spouse are:
- filing the IR1 or CR1 Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative (form I-130), or
- Filing the non-immigrant visa for spouse, the K-3
The IR1 (and CR1) is the Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative that is an immigrant visa for the spouse of a US citizen. The K-3 is a nonimmigrant visa that must be filed and issued in the country where the marriage took place. Once the visa is processed and issued, the spouse may come to the US as a non-immigrant while they await the processing of the immigrant visa. This process will include filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) and the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (Form I-129F).
Same-Sex Sponsorship to the US
US Citizenship and IMmigration Services (USCIS) is charged with reviewing immigration visa petitions “filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse” (uscis.gov). The same goes for sponsoring a same-sex fiancé(e) to the United States. You will need to file the same forms, provide the same proof of relationship, and be reviewed in the same way an opposite-sex marriage or engagement would.
Sponsoring a Fiancé(e) to the United States
In order to bring a foreign fiancé(e)to the United States to live and marry, the US citizen must sponsor them through the K-1 nonimmigrant fiancé(e)visa. This requires filing the I-129F fiancé(e) petition. Once the foreign fiancé(e) arrives in the US, they must marry their US citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. They will then be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to a legal permanent resident with USCIS under the Department of Homeland Security. The individual must also meet the typical immigrant visa requirements. Eligible children of the K-1 beneficiary may accompany their parent with the K-2 visa.
In order for this process to be successful, the couple must fit the definition of fiancé(e). They must both have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and remained so until the present. The marriage must be “legally possible according to the laws of the US state in which the marriage will take place” (travel.state.gov). Finally, the foreign fiancé(e) and US citizen sponsor must have met in person within the last two years. Exception to this requirement may be granted by USCIS if extreme hardship or extenuating circumstances prevented the couple from meeting.
Processing Time For Spousal Sponsorship
The wait time for a US spousal visa varies on a case to case basis. Due to high demand, an individual could be placed on a waitlist for about 4 years. However, it is important to note that this number is variable.
If you would like to sponsor a foreign spouse or fiancé(e) to the United States, it may be helpful to hire an immigration lawyer. We can ensure the process and application materials are completed as efficiently as possible, and work to guarantee the best chances of success. If you are interested in hiring an immigration lawyer, we encourage you to fill out our online assessment, so that we may better understand your case and schedule a consultation. If you already know you would like to enlist the help of an immigration lawyer, you can book a consultation today!
Getting started is easy. All you need to do is fill out our free eligibility online assessment form here and then one of our immigration professionals will get back to you with your results within one business day.
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