Family immigration

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Immigration through marriage

You can immigrate to the United States through marriage. For this, you need to create a family with an American citizen or a green cardholder. This process is called family immigration. 

If there are children from a current or previous marriage, they have the right to move with their parents to the United States immediately. Moreover, it makes no difference whether they are family or adopted children. But there is an important nuance – they must be under 21 years old.

For convenience, here will be an example of immigration through marriage for a couple — an American husband and a foreign wife. But for husbands, betrothed from other countries, or same-sex couples, the process is similar. Same-sex couples can get married in any state of the United States, even with a tourist visa.

There are three ways to immigrate to America through marriage:

1. If the marriage has already been contracted (in another country or the United States), but the wife is abroad, the American husband must petition his foreign spouse to obtain a K-3 wife visa at the US consulate. Using it, the wife can enter the United States and receive a green card.

2. If the wife is already in America, for example, has arrived on a tourist visa, you can apply for a change of status and a green card based on a marriage with a US citizen. To do this, the husband fills out the I-130 petition. At the same time, the wife does not need to travel outside the borders of America. If she has broken immigration laws before, additional actions of a lawyer will be required.

3. If the legal marriage has not yet been concluded, the fiancee can come to America on a K-1 fiancee visa. In this case, the couple must marry within 90 days of arrival. If the couple have never met in reality before, then such a visa will not be issued. Video chats and correspondence do not count.

Immigrant fiancee visa

The “fiancee visa” is often referred to as the K-1 visa. But in the same way, it can be a “fiance visa,” that is, in the case when the bride is a US citizen, and her husband is a citizen of another country, and she invites him to America. But further, for convenience, we will describe the process of obtaining a visa for a fiancee. For a foreign fiance, everything will be the same.

How to get a fiancee visa

1. The US citizen betrothed submits a package of documents to Immigration Services for his fiancee to receive a visa.

2. When they are approved, the documents are transferred to the US Embassy, located in the fiancee’s country of residence.

3. For her part, the fiancee fills out an application for a fiancee visa. She also undergoes a medical examination.

4. The fiancee must undergo an interview at the consulate, during which a decision will be made whether to issue her a visa or not.

5. After the fiancee arrives in the United States, the couple has 90 days to marry legally. If the couple does not do this, the fiancee must leave back for her country.

6. If the couple get married, then the spouses submit a package of documents to the immigration service to change their status.

7. The two of them are invited to the immigration office for an interview. They will ask many questions to find out if this is a real marriage and not a fictitious one.

8. After that, the wife is given a temporary green card.

Requirements for the fiancee and visa nuances

• The betrothed must have American citizenship.

• It must be confirmed that over the past two years, the fiancee and betrothed met in reality. Video chats and correspondence — don’t count.

• Both should not be married.


• The betrothed’s income must meet the minimum requirements.

• Together with the fiancee, her children under the age of 21 can immigrate to the United States.

Fiancee visa application — how long to wait?

 The process will take 8-10 months on average.

For K-1 visa in the United States, there are the following requirements:

• The couple must formalize a legal marriage and register it officially. A religious marriage (for example, a Muslim nikah) or a civil marriage (that is, cohabitation) is not suitable.

• During an interview at the consulate, you need to prove to the immigration officer that your marriage is real and not fictitious.

• Both spouses must not be married to anyone else. First, a divorce from the previous spouse is formalized, and then a new marriage is registered.

The first green card for immigration to the United States will be issued conditionally. The status of “conditional US resident” will also be assigned. The green card and status will be valid for two years.

After two years, documents are submitted for a permanent green card. If the couple managed to divorce during this time, you can still get a permanent green card and then citizenship. The most important thing is to prove that the relationship did not work out, and the marriage itself was real and not fictitious for immigration.

If the outcome is positive, USCIS will immediately issue a permanent green card.