US Military Marrying a Foreign National
The immigration system is no different than the military system.
There are kind officers and some tough ones. The job of an immigration officer is to find problems and help limit immigration. There is no obligation to help you.
I’ve found that immigration officers will focus on the work at hand and do their duty regardless of the fact that you are in the military. I work with a lot of military veterans and have at times found it disheartening that someone would sacrifice in the line of duty and not be given the regard that is deserved. I like to help with the family planning needed to ensure success in immigration matters. I do not charge for phone consultations. It does not hurt to call and inquire. I’ve helped many U.S. military who have foreign family members. Immigration to the U.S. is an important step for every family. U.S. military marrying a foreign national who are stationed overseas generally have specific needs.
Immigration Matters That Should Be Considered
1. Obtaining a US Visa
The military and immigration systems are entirely independent of one another. The fact that someone is in the U.S. military does not avoid or lessen U.S. immigration rules except some that are noted below. All immigrants generally must still process on either Fiance Visa – K1 Visa or Marriage Visa – CR Visa.
In the event of an emergency evacuation, it can be possible for foreign family members who do not yet have U.S. visas to be paroled in (allowed entry without documentation), usually on MAC flights. Visas are required for foreigners to immigrate to the U.S. as family members of a U.S. citizen. Ultimately, the foreigner will want to obtain a Green Card based on marriage.
2. Maintaining a Green Card
To maintain a U.S. green card, a foreigner must generally reside primarily in the U.S. However, in the case of military personnel, foreign spouses who reside overseas on U.S. bases will not lose the green card simply because they do not reside in the U.S.
They can satisfy the U.S. residency requirement while living abroad. They even have the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship while residing abroad. U.S. residency is waived in these instances.
3. Minimum Income Requirements
All U.S. citizens who want to immigrate foreign family members to the U.S. must meet certain minimum income requirements for immigrating a foreign spouse. There is a formula to consider. Active duty military do not need to meet a higher standard of income as compared to the general public. They must meet HHS Poverty Guidelines as noted in the link above.
4. Duty Schedule
Often, U.S. immigration must work around your duty schedule. It becomes important to coordinate an immigration plan. Each U.S. military serviceman will have a different situation and different needs. Is there a family wedding planned? Is the foreigner currently living with you? Will the foreigner remain in the U.S. while you are on deployment? And so forth. It can be possible to expedite a fiance visa or marriage visa depending on your deployment schedule, your leave, or PCS (Permanent Change of Station).
5. Illegal Aliens
Foreigners who are in the U.S. illegally pose a particular problem. Normally, when a foreigner enters the U.S. illegally, there is nothing that can be done to make the foreigner legal, except with very few exceptions. One very big exception is for those foreigners who are married to U.S. military active duty, selected reserve of the ready reserve, or military veterans.
We can very likely legalize the foreigner’s status in the U.S. without the need to have the foreigner return to the home country and come back to the U.S. on a proper visa. The technique is called Parole in Place. It normally requires showing hardship to the U.S. military spouse. Contact me for a FREE consultation.
A toll-free military help line, 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) is for members of the military and their families, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (CST), excluding federal holidays. You may use your base telephone operator or the Defense Switched Network (DSN). The military help line offers good basic information.
Some JAG offices are more knowledgeable than others and can be of good assistance. I’ve worked with JAG officers on immigration and criminal matters and enjoy developing relationships with other attorneys.
Note: I am a member of the Military Assistance Program sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association offering services to those in critical need.