If you are in love with an alien but have not yet married, you may well be asking yourself some important questions. How do I bring her to America? Should I marry her first in her home country and then apply to bring her to America, or should I apply to bring her to America and marry her after she arrives?
There is no correct answer to these questions, as each relationship and each situation is different. This article will help you make that decision, or help you ask good questions when you speak with a lawyer about helping you with the process.
If the couple marries as planned, the alien wife and her new husband must file an application to adjust her status. This is how she will obtain a green card. At the same time, they can apply for two other things: an Employment Authorization Document (commonly called an EAD Card), and Advanced Parole (which allows her to travel outside the U.S. and return even though she does not yet have a green card).
After the alien wife receives her EAD Card (which usually takes an average of around 75+ days), she is authorized to work in America. The Advanced Parole, when approved, will allow her to travel outside the United States and return. This document usually arrives in about 90+ days after the application for it is filed.
This was the (usually) slower way that was used when a couple was married, back before the K-3 Marriage Visa process was allowed. For a long time, the K-3 Marriage Visa was usually a faster way to bring families together, so it was typically used rather than waiting for the IR-1 or CR-1 visa. Things have changed in the past year so that the K-3 Marriage Visa is almost obsolete because the CR-1 and IR-1 visas are being processed just as quickly and the National Visa Center is cancelling the K-3 visa petitions when that happens.
If the alien spouse receives the IR-1 Visa, because you and she have been married for more than two years, she will receive a ten year green card. If she receives a CR-1 Visa, because you and she have been married less than two years, she will receive a two year green card and will be a conditional resident and must file to remove conditions on her green card in the 90 days before it expires. When the conditions are removed, she will receive her ten year green card.
Direct Consular Filing. To pursue this type of Visa, a couple can marry anywhere so long as it is a legal marriage. Then if the United States Citizen lives in the country where his alien wife lives, they may be eligible to apply directly to the United States Consulate in her country for a visa, though under new rules that were instituted, in most cases they must still file the petition in the United States, but at a different place than if the U.S. citizen lived in the U.S. and was filing to bring his wife to America.. If the couple qualifies for this type of visa (and as indicated, it is not available in all countries, and they may have to file in the U.S.), it is usually the fastest way to obtain a spousal visa for couples who live together abroad.