Options for Marriage Visas
When either filing a Fairfax marriage visa petition, or wishing to immigrate to the United States through a marriage visa, there are many issues to be aware of. According to Ann Buwalda, a Fairfax marriage visa attorney with Just Law International, filing for marriage visas in Fairfax is a complicated process with many variables.
A marriage visa is an immediate relative petition that is filed by a spouse who is either a US citizen or permanent resident whose spouse has neither of these distinctions. The non-resident spouse may be living in the US or abroad. If the non-resident spouse is currently living in the US, he or she must have entered lawfully with inspection. This individual should be in the US under another visa like a visitor visa, a student visa, or an employment visa. If not lawfully present, a careful analysis is needed to determine eligibility and when the non-resident spouse would become eligible. During the application process for a Fairfax marriage visa, the non-resident spouse will need to maintain the legal right to stay in the US. If this individual were to fall out of legal status, issues may arise with their application for the marriage visa. Generally, if their spouse is a US citizen, one can still become legal, even if they fell out of status.
In cases where the two individuals have not yet married, there are two options. One option would entail the two marrying abroad, and then filing for an immigrant relative petition. Another option would be to file for a fiancé visa. When the fiancé enters the US, a 90-day timeframe is given to allow the two individuals to legally marry. Upon marriage, the husband or wife would then file the applications for a green card and permanent residency.
When a permanent resident wishes to bring a spouse from abroad, country quotas will need to be met prior to the non-resident spouse being able to complete the application process. These quotas are in place due to large numbers of individuals who have come from certain countries in the past. In regards to family-based petitions or marriage petitions, individuals from Mexico and the Philippines are two major countries whose petitions are delayed due to the large numbers of immigrants who have come from these countries in the past. Quotas are not required in instances where the sponsoring spouse is a US citizen.
When applying for a marriage visa, Buwalda recommends that the filing parties “be genuine.” Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, the practice of the USCIS often is to assume marriage visa petitions are fake. Measures are taken to ensure unlawful attempts to fake the system are not successful. For instance, during the application process, evidence of “co-mingled assets” must be proven, according to Buwalda. This can include shared bank accounts (with proof of both parties using the account equally), insurance policies, utility bills, and the lease for their residence.
“Bed checks” can still be performed by Immigration, but this type of visit to the residence on record are not nearly as common as they had been in the past. A bed check is typically done early in the morning, without prior knowledge of the applicants, to see if both parties are at their stated joint residence. There can be hiccups in this process. For instance, Buwalda once had a client where one party worked the night shift, and therefore wasn’t home when the representative from Immigration came to perform the bed check. Upon the inspection, other evidence of his living there was obvious, including mail, personal belongings and toiletries.
Applicants also will have to go through interviews. These interviews will help to determine the amount of intimate knowledge each person has of the other. The questions are mostly personal and habit questions, things that someone would learn best through living together in a marriage. Both parties also need to be “completely on the same page” when it comes to questions about the marriage. Applicants may be asked to answer 7-10 pages of questionnaires regarding their relationship.
The marriage visa process is very complicated and can be difficult to navigate. Therefore, consulting with an experienced attorney is strongly urged.
Fairfax, VA 22031
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. You should not rely on this article as a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, and you should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. Publication of this article and your receipt of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship.