Marriage Visas Lawyers in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania Marriage Visas Attorney Helping You Understand Marriage-Based Immigration

Getting married doesn’t automatically make someone eligible for immigration to the United States, but it can open a path forward. If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR), you may have questions about whether you can sponsor your spouse and how the process works. Keep reading to find out what kind of marriage visas are available, including the requirements for each and how marriage-based immigration works.

If you need help understanding which type of visa is the right one for your situation or aren’t sure what marriage-based immigration requires, The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh can help. Our legal team has experience assisting clients with marriage visas and other immigration categories and can help you know what to expect and how to get started.

What Are the Different Types of Marriage Visas?

Marriage-based immigration has a few options depending on your specific circumstances, such as whether the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or LPR and whether the person being sponsored is currently in the United States or still living in another country. Below is a breakdown of three common visa types that are used in marriage-based immigration.

CR-1 Visa

The CR in the CR-1 visa stands for “conditional resident.” It is applicable to those who have been married to a U.S. citizen for less than two years at the time they are granted a green card. Usually, once you have a green card, you are considered a permanent resident, but the CR-1 visa adds a condition — hence the name — to the green card. After the person has been in the United States for at least 2 years, they can submit an application to have the condition removed, and if approved, they will receive a standard permanent resident card.

IR-1 Visa

The IR-1 visa is similar to the CR-1 visa, but it stands for immediate relative and doesn’t come with the condition of having to live in the United States for two years. Instead, under this visa, the person is able to obtain a green card and will only have to renew it after ten years. The IR-1 visa is only for those who have been married for more than two years at the time their permanent resident status is approved.

F-2A Visa

The F-2A visa category is a family preference visa, available for spouses of lawful permanent residents. Family preference visas are limited each year, so it’s important that you understand how this may affect your chances of getting it and what other options you have if you are denied based on the visa cap being met. While there is no length of marriage requirement for the F-2A visa, you will have to show proof that the marriage is legitimate and not only for immigration purposes.

K-1 Visa

A K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and is also sometimes referred to as a fiancé visa. The purpose of this visa is to make it possible for a U.S. citizen to bring their fiancé to the United States to get married. The marriage must take place within 90 days of arriving in the country. After the marriage has taken place, you may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to be able to get a green card.

What Are the Requirements to Apply for a Marriage Visa?

Both the person being sponsored under a marriage visa and the sponsor themselves have to meet specific criteria to be able to submit an application for a marriage visa. The sponsor must

  • Be at least 18 years of age,
  • Reside within the United States, and
  • Plan on continuing to live there for the “foreseeable future.”

You must also be able to prove that you are married — or intend to be married in the case of a fiancé visa — and that your relationship is legitimate.

You generally also need to attend an interview. The person being sponsored will also need to go through a background check and medical exam to ensure that they are admissible to the United States if they are not already present in the country.

What Are the Documents Needed to Apply for a Green Card Through Marriage?

Applying for a marriage-based green card requires completing several forms and providing supporting marriage green card documents. Below is a list of documents needed for a green card through marriage.

Visa Petition

Every marriage-based green card application begins with a sponsor submitting a visa petition, generally the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse. You may be able to sponsor yourself for a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visa, regardless of gender, if your spouse is abusive. You submit your visa petition, varying by visa type, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Visa Petition Supporting Documents

Supporting documents needed to apply for a green card through marriage include:

  • Your marriage certificate,
  • Evidence your marriage is legitimate,
  • Proof any previous marriages were legally terminated,
  • Proof of the sponsor’s U.S. citizenship or LPR status, and
  • Two passport-style photos.

VAWA self-petitioners should also include evidence that:

  • Your spouse abused you,
  • You currently or previously lived together, and
  • You married in good faith.

Fiancé petitioners should provide:

  • One passport-style photo of the beneficiary and one of the sponsor,
  • Evidence that you intend to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival, and
  • Proof that you have met in person in the last two years.

You can waive the requirement you’ve met in person if the meeting violates strict and well-established cultural or social practices or is an extreme hardship to the sponsor.

Bona Fides of Marriage

For any marriage-based green card application, you need to present documentation that shows that you are in a genuine marriage, like:

  • A shared lease or mortgage,
  • Proof of shared children,
  • Evidence of shared finances,
  • Photos of you together, and
  • Statements from close friends and family members.

Note that the U.S. government scrutinizes every marriage-based green card application for indications of fraud.

Green Card Application Supporting Documents

When you apply for your green card, you need to provide additional documents, including:

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to provide additional documents, like police certificates, if you have any criminal history.

What Can I Do With a Marriage Visa?

When your marriage visa is approved, you are able to live permanently in the United States as long as you continue to abide by the rules and regulations of your status. You are also able to work as long as you have work authorization. In some cases, you can apply for work authorization at the same time as your green card, and you may even be able to work while your green card application is still processing once you receive your work permit.

Even if you are very happy with your relationship and your life in the United States, it’s normal to want to return to your home country and see your friends and family who still live there. The good news is that you can travel with a marriage visa. You can even go for a lengthy visit – up to 2 years – if you apply for a re-entry permit first. You can also travel internationally while your green card is still being reviewed, as long as you have a travel permit from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

What Happens With My Status If We Get Divorced?

All marriages don’t work out, and it can add another layer of uncertainty if you have a marriage visa. In general, once you have a green card, getting divorced won’t affect your status. You will need to renew your permanent resident card every 10 years, but you don’t still have to be married or show any proof of marriage to do so. The one exception to this is if you have a CR-1 visa. Because CR-1 visas are conditional and dependent on the marriage itself, you could lose your status with a divorce. However, there are other options that may be available to you, such as VAWA.

One of the best parts of being married is getting to spend the rest of your life with someone you truly love and whose company you enjoy. Don’t let distance or different home countries keep you apart. Call The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh at 717-900-1818 today to find out more about how marriage-based immigration works in the United States and what steps you’ll need to take. Call today to speak to a member of our legal team and schedule your first appointment.

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