In the United States, should a citizen marry an alien from a foreign country, they are permitted to “sponsor” them so that they can legally enter the company. Who qualifies as a spouse? The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a very traditional view on marriage. A spouse is not just someone who you’ve been living with (for example, immigration law does not qualify common law marriages) and it cannot be someone who has multiple wives. In cases of polygamy, only the first spouse qualifies. Immigration law also does not currently recognize same-sex marriages. Contacting an immigration attorney in New York can help you obtain the information that you need when considering spousal sponsorship, so don’t wait to call Pozo Goldstein, LLP today.
If you are a citizen who is looking to marry a foreign national, you will likely be looking into either an IR-1 or CR-1 visa for immediate relatives and conditional residents, respectively. The first thing that the U.S. citizen will need to do is file the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with either the USCIS or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There is a filing fee of $420 that accompanies this form.
It is also vital that the citizen fills out what is known as the Form I-134 Affidavit of Support. The purpose of this document is to prove that the applicant indeed is sponsored and will not “become a public charge” after they are lawfully entered into the United States. There is no filing fee associated with this form, but the citizen must be at least 18 years of age to sign it and must maintain a principal resident in the United States.
After your petition has been approved by the USCIS, it will be sent onto the National Visa Center (NVC) and will be assigned a case number. The petition will then move forward and you will be required to submit the forms listed above, as well as any civil documents that are required, plus any fees.
Fees can accompany the following:
Documents required for spousal sponsorship:
One important step of spousal sponsorship is the interview which will be scheduled with the USCIS. This interview is a crucial step to the processing of the visa and it is vastly important that it is treated with the respect that it deserves. During this interview, they will be looking for any signs that the marriage is a fraud – the USCIS takes immigration fraud extremely seriously and will do everything that they can to crack down on people who are abusing the system for any reason.
During this interview, the couple will need to prove that they are not a sham – that they are in a genuine relationship and that they have a genuine marriage. For this reason, it is highly stressed that the couple is honest throughout the entire interview as lying about anything could prove detrimental. The couple will be asked highly personal questions to validate their relationship which could range from the color of each other’s toothbrush to decorating aspects of their home.
If there is anything that is suspect during the first interview, a second interview may be required to go over more details. This may require each person to enter into a separate interview. During the first interview, applicants will also need to submit to ink-free fingerprint scans and must submit passports, as well as any other forms of documents that are required.
In some cases, where the couple has been married for less than two years, the applicant will be given a CR visa for conditional residency instead of an IR visa for an immediate residency. After two years, you and your spouse will be able to apply for an IR visa to remove the conditional status. This is done by filing out the Form I-751 in the 90 days following the two year anniversary. If you fail to apply for the IR visa during this time period, your spouse will lose your conditional status and will be removed from the country.
For couples who are looking to immigrate lawfully into the country, it is vastly important that no time is wasted in getting the involvement of an experienced immigration lawyer. Due to the crackdown on sham marriages, you want to make sure that all facts are represented clearly, all documents are filled out completely and no deadlines are missed. You will also want to make sure that nothing is done that you would make you or your spouse ineligible for a visa – such as filling out a fraudulent document.
At Pozo Goldstein, LLP, we recognize the importance of spousal sponsorship and we are here to ensure that the process proceeds as smoothly as possible. If you would like to discuss your case with a member of our firm, we encourage you to get our involvement as soon as possible. The timelines of this process will vary directly on a case-to-case basis, but can be delayed if something is completed incorrectly. We are here to help ensure that it is expedited as best as possible so you and your spouse can enjoy a simple process. Call us today to schedule your initial case consultation and to learn more.