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What to Do if You’re Marrying A Foreigner

by Lily Morgen
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Marrying A Foreigner

During your vacation, you fell in love with a foreigner – a non-U.S. citizen. Your new fiancé is coming home with you! Now, you’re going to prepare for the international marriage. Although it sounds like the premise of a reality show, it may actually occur to you.

You must take legal action to ensure that your new fiancé is lawfully present in the nation. Here are some things you need to do for your marriage and protect yourself for a fraudulent marriage at the same time:

1. Learn The Citizenship Process for Your Fiancé

Marriage does not automatically grant a non-U.S. citizen with U.S. citizenship. It can take a long time for your fiancé to become a citizen. Each step takes time and requires a ton of paperwork. A mistaken revelation or inaccurate information during this process could delay or prevent citizenship or residency.

Any immigrant may be denied entrance if it is determined that they are inadmissible. This could be due to a physical condition, criminal record, prior immigration offenses, or the view of U.S. immigration authorities that the marriage is not genuine and is only a scheme to obtain a green card.

The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) will assist you through the procedure. The USCIS will review your application and, if it’s approved, send it to the U.S. embassy or consulate in your fiancé’s home country. They will then contact your fiancé and schedule an interview.

2. Get a Fiancé Visa (K-1)

If your wedding will take place in the United States, there are specific procedures you must follow to guarantee the right visas are in place for your fiancé. A visa is evidence of a government’s consent for a foreign national to enter the United States.

Your significant other need a K-1 visa to go to the United States. A K-1 visa is also called a fiancé visa. The K-1 visa permits your fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry you within 90 days of their arrival. If you do not marry, or if you marry someone other than your fiancé(e), your fiancé(e) must return to their home country.

To apply for a K-1 visa, you must first file a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), or I-129F with USCIS. 

The petition will be delivered to the U.S.  embassy or consulate in the city where your fiancé resides after being authorized by USCIS.

The next step is for your fiancé to go to an interview at the embassy or consulate, where he will be questioned about you, your relationship, and their reasons for visiting United States.

If approved, he will receive a K-1 visa, which will allow them to travel to the United States.

3. Get a Green Card

After being married, you can request to have the foreign spouse’s status changed to permanent resident status, sometimes known as holding a “green card,” which allows them to live and work in the US permanently. 

You will need to submit a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) to USCIS, along with some other documentation. Once the petition is approved, your spouse will receive a document called an ” immigrant visa packet.” This packet will be sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate where your spouse is located. Your husband will then need to attend an interview, where he will be asked questions about the relationship. If approved, he will receive a green card.

Individuals who receive a green card within two years of getting married are granted conditional permanent residence status. If you have been married for less than two years when your spouse is granted a green card, he or she will receive a conditional permanent resident card. A conditional permanent resident status means that the green card is only temporarily valid for two years.

4. Protect Yourself From Fraudulent Marriage Scams

When getting married to a foreigner, there is always the risk of a fraudulent marriage. A fraudulent marriage is your fiancé does not intend to stay married or live together after obtaining immigration benefits. Be sure to do your research and be vigilant. 

There are a few ways to spot a fraudulent marriage:

  • Get a background check on your fiancé. This can be done through the USCIS or by hiring a private investigator.
  • Make sure all documents are properly translated and notarized.
  • Do not sign any documents that you do not understand. Have an attorney look over them first.
  • Be cautious when your fiancé asks for money. 
  • He is not interested in learning about your culture or background
  • He is not interested in getting to know your friends or family
  • You don’t share any common interests

If you think you may be the victim of a fraudulent marriage, you should contact an immigration attorney immediately. You can also report it to USCIS by calling the USCIS Fraud Hotline at 1-800-357-2099. 

Final Thought

Marrying a foreigner can be a complex process, but it can also be a very rewarding experience. By following the proper procedures and being aware of potential scams, you can help ensure that your marriage is a success.

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