a foreign national is a completely different experience than marrying a
resident of the United States. The United States government must be
petitioned to permit your spouse to live with you in the United States.
If you want to marry a
Thai, first look to the laws of the jurisdiction to see under what
conditions the foreign country will allow the marriage and to see if
there is a residency requirement for the United States spouse to
fulfill. The United States consulate in Thailand can assist you with
information but please do not ask us as our Law office cannot help you.
If a foreign marriage
occurs, the American spouse must file a Petition for Alien Relative and
endure many months or even years of separation from his new spouse while
the petition is approved and then finally processed at the foreign
USA citizen has an option available to him/her: the fiancée visa.
The U. S. citizen can petition for a visa for his alien fiancé to allow
her admission to the United States for a period of 90 days to allow for
them to prepare for their marriage and life together. The fiancée
process can be completed in a much shorter time period than a spousal
The Petition for Alien
Fiancé(e) is approved in the United States by the Immigration
Naturalization Service (INS) service center with jurisdiction over the
residence of the US citizen petitioner. To qualify for a fiancée visa,
the citizen petitioner must provide proof that he is a citizen by birth
or by naturalization, that he is legally able to marry his fiancée and
intends to do so, and that his fiancé beneficiary is legally able to
marry him. In addition, the citizen petitioner must provide proof that
he has met his fiancée in person within the last two years. It is
recommended that such proof consist of photographs of the petitioner and
beneficiary together, copies of the petitioner’s passport showing
entry and exit stamps to the beneficiary’s home country and other
similar items. The requirement for a personal meeting can be waived
under certain limited grounds, such as a custom in the fiancée's
culture allowing for arranged marriages or extreme hardship ( eg. severe
health restrictions ) to the petitioner.
The Congress passed the L.I.F.E. act which
should speed up the process of bringing
your wife to the U.S. It gets rid of the long wait for those wife's who
must get immigrant status before joining their husbands in the US . She
can go as a non-immigrant instead . You must file I-129F ( Fiancee
petition ) as proof of marriage , I-130 and wait until the non-immigrant
Visa gets to the Embassy .
begin the process, the petitioner will file Form I-129F Petition for
Alien Fiancé with the INS service center for his region. This is NOT
the local district INS office near your home. Must submit a signed Form
G-325 Biographic Data sheet for himself and for his fiancée, copies of
proof of the termination of all prior marriages for himself and for his
fiancée, "green card" type photographs of both the petitioner
and beneficiary, and an Affidavit of Support showing the willingness of
the Petitioner to provide support for his fiancé if she is allowed to
be admitted to the United States. All documents in a foreign language
must be accompanied by a certified English translation of the document.
( It is advisable for you to assist your fiancée in gathering the
information, documents, and photos while you are here with her rather
than than collect materials later via the mails )
If the fiancée has
unmarried children, they should be included in the petition and may be
able to accompany her to the United States. The children may also follow
to join their parent within one year of the initial visa approval.
However, unless the marriage to the alien fiancée occurs before a
child’s 18th birthday, the child will not be able to receive residency
based on the marriage to a US citizen. He would be able to be petitioned
by his mother based on her new residency status but, under current
waiting lists for that category, he would not receive a "green
card" for over seven years.
The Affidavit of
Support (currently INS Form I-134) requires supporting documents such as
employment letters, bank letters, and a list of stocks held by the
petitioner. A new form, INS Form I-864 is due to go into effect in
December 1997 and will require the submission of the Petitioner’s last
three tax returns with proof that the petitioner meets minimal income
requirements to support his alien fiancé. The purpose of the Affidavit
of Support is to show the government that the alien fiancé will not be
a burden ( or "public charge") on the people of the United
States. The burden in all INS matters is on the petitioner and
beneficiary to show their eligibility for the benefit requested.
Approval of the
petition by the Service can take between just a few days to several
weeks. The approved petition is then sent to the U. S. consulate with
Immigrant Visa jurisdiction over the beneficiary’s place of residence.
For example, for the former Soviet Union, the IV consulate is in Moscow.
Selection of another consulate other than the consulate with
jurisdiction does not guarantee that the selected consulate will accept
the case. Upon receipt of the approved petition packet at the consulate
abroad, the alien fiancé is contacted and scheduled for interview. The
consulate will mail a packet of materials to the fiancée to allow her
to complete the application process for receiving the K-1 visa. The
consulate will include an itemized list of required documentation for
the beneficiary to bring to the interview. This list will be in the
beneficiary’s native language.
of the items that will be required for your fiancé’s appointment at
the consulate will be her birth certificate and English translation, the
results of a physical examination performed by a doctor approved by the
consulate, a valid passport, a police letter documenting lack of
criminal history, verification of any name changes and original copies
of proof of termination of all prior marriages of the beneficiary. If
the fiancé's child or children are to accompany her, then the same
documents will be required for the child(ren).
US Consulate in Vietnam
consulate will make an initial determination of admissibility (
excludability ) to the United States. Some grounds of excludability
include criminal arrests, terrorist activities, trafficking in
narcotics, habitual drunkenness, and insanity. If there are grounds for
exclusion, there may be waivers available. The consulate will also make
serious inquiry into the intentions of the parties and as to whether the
marriage may be a marriage of convenience to gain an immigration benefit
for the beneficiary. A marriage of convenience, or "sham
marriage" can have serious consequences for both the petitioner and
beneficiary if detected.
the United States
approval of the K-1 Visa, the consulate will place the visa into the
beneficiary’s passport. Children receive K-2 visas. This
visa permits the fiancée to enter the United States within six months
of the date of approval by the consulate. Upon entry into the United
States, the fiancée is only permitted to remain for a period of ninety
days. There are no extensions allowed. During the admission to the
United States, the fiancé will receive employment authorization from
The petitioner and
beneficiary must marry within that ninety day window or the beneficiary
must leave the United States. If marriage to the petitioner occurs, the
married couple will then apply for adjustment of status to lawful
permanent resident at the INS district office in their area. If the
marriage does not occur and the fiancée returns to her home country
within the ninety day period, then the parties retain eligibility to
pursue this option with other potential spouses in the future.
This article is
intended to provide general information on the visa process. There are
many other factors in this complex and ever changing area of the law. If
you have any questions or need more specific advice on this or any other
immigration matter, contact an attorney who practices immigration law.
Our thanks to PJ
Sumner for providing us with this info.