Marriage Visa | Spousal Visa
Who Qualifies for a Marriage Visa?
In order to obtain a marriage visa, you must meet all requirements under U.S. immigration laws. Those include:
- You are legally married.
- Your marriage is bona fide (not done just to obtain a green card).
- One spouse is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- Neither spouse is married to anyone else.
You must provide evidence of each of these qualifications in order to obtain a marriage visa. This may require completion of immigration forms, an interview with U.S. agencies, and additional information provided to the U.S. government. By working with a skilled marriage visa lawyer, you can ensure you provide the necessary documentation to the U.S. government so that you can quickly and easily obtain a marriage visa.
What Does It Mean to Be Legally Married?
In order to obtain a marriage visa, you must be legally married. A legal marriage may be different in various countries. However, the United States will recognize your marriage as being legal as long as your marriage is recognized as legal in the country or state where you were married. You must provide official record from a government office that your marriage is legally recognized.
Domestic partnerships or other relationships that have not been formalized in another country do not typically qualify as a legal marriage for marriage visa purposes. However, if you live in a country or state that recognizes common law marriages and you met the requirements for a common law marriage, you may be able to show that your marriage is legal.
You do not have to have been married in the United States in order to obtain a marriage visa. You may be married in your home country or another country of your choice. Any marriage procedure that is recognized in the country in which you were married will be recognized as legal in the United States. This includes church weddings, destination weddings, and tribal practices.
A proxy marriage, which occurs when one person is not present, is not recognized by the United States government unless the marriage is later consummated. This means, the couple must have had sexual relations at a later date if they were not both present for the wedding.
If you have questions about whether your marriage is legally recognized by the United States, you should consult with a marriage visa attorney. It can be difficult to know whether the ceremony you had in another country qualifies as a legal marriage in the U.S. Talk to an attorney before you begin the process of applying for a marriage visa.
Is Your Marriage Bona Fide?
Your marriage must be bona fide, or real, in order to be legally recognized for the marriage visa process. This means that you intend to establish a life as spouses. If you entered into marriage for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card or marriage visa, your marriage is not bona fide.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) seeks out marriages that are fraudulent and will not issue visas or green cards to these couples. You may also face additional charges for a “sham” marriage or fraudulent activities. The foreign national may face deportation, and a marriage visa will not be issued or a green card may be revoked.
You Must Marry a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
In order to obtain a marriage visa, you must marry a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. A lawful permanent resident is anyone who holds a green card and resides in the United States permanently. A person with temporary rights to live in America cannot request a marriage visa for their spouse.
A U.S. citizen is a person who:
- Was born in the United States or U.S. territories.
- Became a citizen through naturalization.
- Acquired citizenship through a parent or family member.
U.S. citizens may prove their status with a birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or certificate of citizenship. Unlike citizens in many other countries, U.S. citizens are not under the requirement to carry national identity cards.
You may also be marrying a U.S. lawful permanent resident, which is someone who has legally obtained a green card. Permanent residents may eventually become U.S. citizens. If you are married to a person who has a green card, then you may apply for a marriage visa. All of the other requirements regarding a legal and bona fide marriage still apply.
You May Not Be Married to Anyone Else
The United States only recognizes marriages between two people. Thus, if you are in a legal marriage to another individual, then you may not obtain a marriage visa.
How Long Do You Have to Be Married to a U.S. Citizen to Get a Marriage Visa?
There is no time requirement determining how long you must have been in a marriage in order to obtain a marriage visa. However, the process of obtaining a marriage visa can take a significant amount of time. Once an application has been submitted, it can take several months for the USCIS to schedule both of you for an interview.
After that, the USCIS may grant you conditional resident status. You will be a conditional resident for two years, at which time you can request that they lift the conditional status. It can take several months for them to convert your status to unconditional. You must be in a marriage and living with your spouse in the United States for three years from the date of your approval of conditional resident status in order to apply for naturalization, or U.S. citizenship.
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