The process of sponsoring a fiancée is only for American citizens. It requires submitting Form I-129F to USCIS and obtaining a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. If a U.S. citizen plans to marry an alien outside the United States, or if the future spouse is already living in the United States, then a fiancée visa is not appropriate.
The petitioning couple must commit to marrying within 90 days of the alien fiancée entering the United States. Once the marriage ceremony takes place, the foreign spouse can apply for permanent residency (a green card) and remain in the United States while the government is processing the application.
U.S. citizens who are petitioning for a K-1 visa on behalf of an alien fiancée must show that the petitioner:
•Is a U.S. citizen
•Intends to marry within 90 days of the fiancée entering the United States.
•Is free to marry and so is the fiancée.
•Has met the fiancée at least once within two years before filing the petition.
If the fiancée has a child under 21 and unmarried, the child may accompany the mother to the US.
Both Fiancée and Spouse cases take about the same processing time, though for a spouse case you would have to add the time needed for you to travel to Vietnam and obtain a marriage certificate.
Would it be better to marry in Vietnam or wait to marry until the fiancée is in the U.S.? The Spouse case is usually more credible to Consuls. For a fiancée case, the Consulate would require a good reason why the couple chose not to get married in Vietnam.
Will the fiancée be able to work as soon as she enters the US? After the marriage, the couple can submit an Employment Authorization request to CIS along with the application for Green Card. Employment is usually authorized with a short time.
How long does it take for the processing of a fiancée case? It’s usually 9 to 12 months from the time the sponsor submits the forms to CIS until the fiancée arrives in the US.
Marriage or Fiancée petition? : A spouse petition is not a guarantee that the case will be approved by the Consulate, but it does make a better impression on the consular officers than a fiancée case. The spouse petition usually requires that the sponsor make two trips to Vietnam – one trip for the marriage and a second trip to get the certified marriage certificate. This is why some sponsors choose the fiancée petition.
For both the marriage and fiancée petitions, the most important thing is evidence of contact: emails, letters, photos, phone bills, trips to Vietnam. CIS sometimes requires
Copies of the sponsor’s Airplane ticket stub or boarding passes or a Copy of passport pages showing any page that has an entry or exit stamp from Viet Nam, and a Copy of credit card receipt for purchase of airline tickets to Vietnam.
Age difference: This could be a problem if the age difference is great. CIS is sure to approve the petition here in the States, but when it comes time for the visa interview at the US consulate in Saigon, it’s very possible that they would doubt the relationship and suspect that the lady is interested in marriage for immigration purposes, rather than because of love. That’s really none of their business, but that’s the way it works.
What additional evidence of relationship should be prepared for the visa interview at the American Consulate? We advise clients to bring
• A notarized Timeline of the relationship
• Dated hotel and restaurant receipts from the sponsor’s trips to Vietnam
• Phone bills (Don’t use phone calling cards because usually don’t provide proof of calls to Vietnam)
• Copies of e-mails
• Photos of engagement party
• Any other evidence to show that you have personally met each other within two years prior to the filing of the petition and that you have an on-going, genuine relationship
Both Fiancée and spouse cases require the applicant to have a thorough knowledge about the Sponsor and about his life in the U.S. That means the applicant must know as much as possible about the sponsor’s job, house, car, and relatives living in the U.S. Fiancée applicants may also be asked to give details about the planned wedding in the US.
We recently had an inquiry from a lady who came from Vietnam on a fiancée visa, got married, and then found out that her husband had been hiding many things from her. They were not suited to each other. Now she is thinking about divorce. However, she could not marry another US citizen in order to get a Green Card. In order to be eligible for a Green Card, she must still be married to the man who sponsored her fiancée visa.
If her husband is not willing to sponsor her Green Card application, there is no option. Under the law, she must leave the U.S. If she got a divorce and married another citizen, she would have to return to Vietnam and wait for him to file a spouse petition.
The lady is also worried about how her family will feel if she returns to Vietnam now.
But trying to stay in the US without a Green Card would mean a life of instability and insecurity. If she tries to hide her situation from her family, they would still find out one day. Information travels very quickly between Vietnam and the U.S.
We guess that her family would very much prefer her to return to Vietnam instead of leading a miserable life in the U.S. After all, she did nothing wrong except to believe a dishonorable man. That was not her fault.
Q.1. My wife arrived in the US as a fiancée. We have just sent in her application for a Green Card. When will she be eligible to apply for US citizenship?
A. 1. First, your wife will be a conditional permanent resident for two years. Then, a year after she gets her permanent Green Card, she can apply for citizenship. In other words, she will be able to apply for citizenship three years after her first approval as a permanent resident.
Q.2. I want to do a fiancée petition to bring my girlfriend to the U.S., but her parents want us to get married in Vietnam. What can we do?
A.2. Maybe her parents will be satisfied if you have a traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony and wedding party, without registering the marriage with the local authorities. If her parents require you to register your marriage in Vietnam, then you will not be able to file a fiancée petition for her. It will have to be a marriage petition.
Q.3. I arrived in the U.S. two months ago as a fiancée. My husband and I have not registered our marriage in the U.S. because we have some serious personal problems. Recently, I met a man I knew a long time ago in Vietnam. He is a US citizen. Can he marry me and sponsor me for a Green Card?
A.3. A fiancée can only get a Green Card by marrying the person who filed the fiancée petition for her. If you really want to marry your old friend from Vietnam, you could do that. Then you would have to go back to Vietnam and wait while he files a spouse petition for you.
ROBERT MULLINS INTERNATIONAL www.rmiodp.com www.facebook.com/rmiodp
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