San Diego Immigration Attorney for Marrying A Foreign National

Love is blind. It does not see borders, citizenship, or nationality. While you are free to marry a foreign national, if you want your new spouse to live and work in the United States legally, you must follow U.S. immigration law to secure the appropriate visa or green card for your partner.

First and foremost,  in order to sponsor your husband or wife for permanent residency, you yourself must hold either a green card or U.S. citizenship.

Understanding Marriage-Based Green Cards

If you are a U.S. citizen already married to a foreign national, you may sponsor your spouse for a green card. There are two different procedures for sponsoring a spouse depending on whether they are physically present in the U.S. or residing abroad.  Either way, the first step is the same, which is filing the Form I-130 and supporting documentation with USCIS.

If both you and your spouse are present in the United States, then your spouse will go through a process call Adjustment of Status. This involves filing several other forms with the I-130. While the application is pending your spouse will typically get a work and travel permit 60-90 days after the petition is received. And shortly thereafter both of you will attend an interview with an immigration officer.

If your spouse is overseas, then your spouse can process their application for permanent residency at a U.S. consulate abroad. First, the I-130 is filed with USCIS. After it is approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center, and they will schedule your spouse for an interview. After a successful interview, your spouse will receive an immigrant visa, and they can then enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.

Documentation for gaining green card status for your spouse includes:

  • Complete petition for alien relative (Form I-130).
  • Two biographic information forms.
  • A copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Divorce or death certificates for past spouses, if any.
  • Evidence of any past name changes, if any.
  • Proof of the sponsor’s citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Proof of the good faith relationship
  • Two passport-sized photographs.
  • Other supporting evidence as needed.
  • Filing fees.

You will also have to prove during this process that your marriage is not fraudulent. To do this, you must provide substantial documentation that your marriage is valid and your lives are intermingled. This proof could include but is not limited to love letters, photos of the two of you, proof of joint accounts, trips together, or the birth certificates of your children. You will probably also have to go through an interview with an immigration officer to demonstrate that you have a good faith marriage.

Three years after obtaining a green card, your spouse can apply for United States citizenship. If you are a permanent resident, you may also sponsor your spouse to obtain a green card. However, the wait for this type of family-based visa can be much longer and varies by country.

If you are not yet married, and your spouse is overseas, there is also the K-1 Fiancé visa.

Understanding the K-1 Fiancé Visa

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can bring your partner to the United States on a K-1 fiancé visa. This visa, which is valid for 90 days, is a possible choice if your partner doesn’t currently live in the United States, if you have met your partner in person within the last two years, and if both parties are legally able to marry. During the 90-day period after your partner enters the U.S. on a K-1 visa, you must marry your partner. Your spouse can then apply for a green card with you as sponsor.

The K-1 visa requires the following documents:

  • A completed non-immigrant visa application (Form DS-160).
  • A valid passport.
  • Divorce or death certificates for past spouses, if any.
  • Police clearance certificates.
  • Medical examination papers.
  • Evidence of financial support.
  • Two passport-sized photographs.
  • Filing fees.


Other Marriage Green Card Issues

You may have issues obtaining a green card for your spouse if:

  • Your spouse is or has been in the country illegally.
  • You married your spouse in the U.S. while he or she held a tourist visa.
  • You or your spouse is legally married to someone else.
  • You do not provide enough evidence that your marriage is valid.
  • You did not complete the application process correctly.
  • You did not prove that your spouse will be supported financially.

In these cases, it is advisable to seek assistance from a knowledgeable immigration attorney to discuss your rights and your legal options.

Seek Help From A Skilled California Immigration Lawyer

At Feldman Feldman & Associates, we can help you understand all of the immigration legal issues involving your fiancé or spouse. We will assist you with the entire process from completing the forms, to providing the correct supporting documentation, and advising on what to do if your spouse originally entered the country illegally.  Call our offices today or fill out our short electronic contact form on this page to schedule an appointment, learn more about our legal services, or ask a question about your case.