Bringing Couples Together
Modern technology and more accessible international travel have meant that people all over the world can interact and potentially form relationships. While living together certainly isn’t a requirement for marriage, it can be difficult to be separated from your spouse for months or even years because they aren’t able to come live in the United States permanently. However, there are visa options for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens.
Getting approved for a marriage visa can mean that you are able to reunite with your spouse and start planning a future together that isn’t complicated by distance. If you need help with a marriage visa, whether that’s choosing the right one or understanding the process of proving your marriage is legitimate, call the attorneys at Badmus & Associates.
How Does a Marriage Visa Work?
A marriage visa is generally for the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen. This could be someone who is a natural-born U.S. citizen or someone who has gone through the process of becoming a naturalized citizen. There are three main marriage visas:
- IR1: The IR1 visa stands for Immediate Relative. If you are approved for this visa, you are given a Green Card, which means you have lawful permanent resident status. This visa is good for 10 years.
- CR1: The CR1 visa is a Conditional Resident visa. It requires that the foreign spouse live in the United States for 2 years before they can become permanent residents.
- K-3: This is a non-immigrant visa, which means that it is temporary. However, it does allow a spouse to come to the United States while they wait for an immigrant visa.
If you are only engaged but intend to get married and continue living in the United States, the K-1 visa — also known as the fiance visa — may be an option.
How Do You Prove a Marriage Is Genuine?
Simply being legally married isn’t enough to get a marriage visa approved. Marriage visas require that the marriage be bona fide, which means that it is a legitimate relationship-based marriage and not just a marriage for immigration purposes. In general, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office is looking for proof that you live together, have children together, have combined finances, and have shared life experiences, such as going on vacation together or attending events and holidays together.
It can be more difficult for couples who don’t live together to prove that their marriage is genuine, but it’s not impossible. If you can show that you have joint finances and have made each other beneficiaries for life insurance and estate planning purposes, this can help. Being able to show phone and text records of consistent communication or getting affidavits from friends and family members can also help strengthen your case.
What Will They Ask in the Interview?
The interview process is standard when you apply for a marriage visa. Whether you attend as a couple or only the person applying for the visa attends depends on where the person seeking the visa lives. If they are outside of the United States, they attend alone. If they are inside the United States, both people attend.
The interviewer will ask questions about your relationships, such as how you met and how long you’ve been together, but they’re also allowed to ask more sensitive questions. For example, they may ask whether you can identify any birthmarks on your spouse’s body or what marital issues you’ve experienced. They may also ask questions to see how well you know the other person, such as where they went to high school or what their relationship with their family is like.
Can You Become a U.S. Citizen With a Marriage Visa?
Getting a Green Card through a marriage visa can provide a pathway to eventually becoming a naturalized citizen. You will need to have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of 3 years and must also have been married for at least 3 of those years. To be eligible for naturalization, you must be at least 18 years old and able to pass a basic English proficiency test and a U.S. civics test. You must also be able to demonstrate that you have acted with good moral character and be willing to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Making the decision to become a U.S. citizen is a big step, and it’s not one that should be taken lightly. In some cases, becoming a U.S. citizen can even mean giving up citizenship in your country of origin. It’s always a good idea to talk to an attorney to ensure you understand what’s involved in the naturalization process, how long it can take, and anything else you should be aware of.
What Are Some Common Reasons Marriage Visas Are Denied?
It’s a common misconception that a marriage visa will be approved as long as you are legally married, but marriage visas are denied every year in the United States. Some of the most common reasons include a history of criminal convictions, insufficient evidence that the marriage is real, submitting incorrect or incomplete forms, and not being able to answer the interviewer’s questions in a satisfactory manner.
Working with an immigration attorney from the beginning can increase the chances of your marriage visa being approved and ensure that you use the visa that applies to your situation. To get help with your marriage visa application, call the immigration law firm of Badmus & Associates at 214-393-4917. Our local office is here to help clients in Dallas and the surrounding areas.