A foreigner who is already in the US is welcome to marry a US citizen or other person while here. Generally, it is not necessary to have any immigration status to marry in the U.S. This is because marriage is according to State law. State marriage law is separate from U.S. Federal immigration law. For example, two Italians fly to Las Vegas, marry on a weekend, and return to Italy. U.S. immigration is not a concern for this couple. The marriage itself is valid.
In most cases a foreigner who marries a United States citizen will want to remain in the U.S. and apply for a green card based on marriage. In some cases, it can be possible to obtain a green card while in other cases it can be unsafe or even prohibited to remain in the U.S. after marriage. Immigration filings must be handled properly in order for the foreign spouse to reside lawfully in the U.S. on a permanent basis.
If the foreigner enters the United States on either a K1 fiancee visa or K3 spousal visa, the foreigner is welcome to remain in the U.S. and apply for a green card. Eventually the foreign spouse can apply for U.S. citizenship as well.
If the foreigner came to the U.S. without a K visa, it is often necessary and proper to return the foreigner home. He or she would soon after return to the U.S. on a K3 or CR marriage visa. Each U.S. immigration visa has a specific purpose. You should not run the risk of violating immigration laws, thus causing problems for your loved one by using a visa for the wrong purpose.
There can be certain times when it makes sense to try and process a case “State-side” without first returning the foreigner home. Your best choice in how to proceed depends on your situation. If the foreigner is marrying a Green Card holder, see Green Card Holder Immigrating a Foreign Spouse. If the foreigner is marrying a US citizen, your best choice depends on your situation.
We need to know:
- When the person arrived in the U.S.
- What type of visa he or she has
- When his or her stay in the U.S. will expire
- Whether he or she has been out of status at anytime
- If married, when and where the marriage took place
We need this history before we can determine your options. Immigration agencies are “on the prowl”, looking for improper use of a visa when entering the U.S. Each visa has a particular purpose. Some want to “pretend” to visit, but are actually seeking to immigrate to the U.S. based on marriage. Any misrepresentation or misuse of a visa is grounds for a bar from the U.S., married or not.
Illegal or Out of Status
If your foreign fiancee or spouse entered the U.S. illegally or on a visa, but now his or her stay on that visa has expired, then you should …
Call us before taking further steps.
We provide a free initial consultation, during which, we’ll be happy to answer your questions. There are a variety of different laws that come into play. It gets complicated. Each case is different.
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Our law firm has been practicing marriage based immigration law exclusively for more than 22 years. We are licensed and qualified experts. For more information about Bar Waivers, please visit: Entered the US Illegally.