Bringing a Foreign Fiancée or Spouse to the United States:
Starting the Process
NOTE: (This article was written by an attorney at The Solomon Law Firm, P.C. in Houston, Texas ( www.thesolomonlawfirm.com ) who has personal experience in going through the process of bringing a foreign fiancée to America. We think you will find it very enlightening.)
So you met a woman who lives in another country, fell in love with her and either married her already or want to bring her to the United States and marry her here. The reverse situation could also be true, where you are an American woman and your fiancé or spouse is from another country. If that is the case, please bear with me and understand that the focus on American men and foreign women in this discussion is solely for ease of presentation. Quite frankly it is also because the number of American men who marry foreign women tends to be higher than the number of American women who marry foreign men.
Let's address a couple of issues right up front. You will quickly learn that your fiancée is called an alien by our government. That's right, an alien. Not a foreign fiancée, but an alien fiancée. Don't be offended. Alien is just a word. She is still your sweetheart. And while we are discussing the meaning of words, let's talk about another one that you will see repeatedly if you are looking at marrying or have married a foreign woman: Petition. Don't let this word throw you. It is a word that lawyers use a lot. You can think of it as meaning "application" when used in the context of applying (petitioning) for a K-1 fiancée visa or a marriage visa.
There may be others issues that are on your mind as you start this process. Maybe the love of your life has children who you and she want to bring to the United States with her. Maybe the child or children can not accompany their mother when she comes to the United States, either because of school or other reasons. Does that mean they can never come later? Is the mother making an irrevocable decision to leave her children behind in order to be with you?
These are legitimate concerns, and you probably feel like you have a million other questions swirling through your head. You don’t know where to turn for help. It is so confusing. What must you file, where do you file whatever you need to file, what does it cost, how long will it take, what are the rules? One very important question is whether you are even eligible for whatever process might be out there for people just like you? I know how you feel. I have stood in your shoes, though I had the advantage of knowing the law and the immigration process.
This article and other articles on this website were written by a lawyer, but they don’t provide legal advice. They will, however, provide some general information that will help you get started with the process of bringing a Foreign Fiancée or Spouse to the United States by filing a petition for a K-1 fiancée visa or a marriage visa petition. They will also provide practical information from someone who has personal experience in going through what you are facing.
You might decide that you don't need a lawyer, and perhaps you can handle your case on your own, but I have seen enough cases to have reached the conclusion that most people would be wise to hire a lawyer.
One reason for this is that there is a common misconception that all that is involved in the process is to fill out some forms and send them in with a few documents. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a reason for each question on a form, and unless someone knows the reason for that question and the law that applies to it, they face the risk of a disastrous denial and a much more expensive legal fee after that happens.
There are services that offer a low fee to help with filling out the forms, but that is actually much more expensive than hiring a law firm because the fee you pay is just for filling out the forms. There is no legal advice provided, and that is what most people really need. Sometimes, for example, a knowledgeable immigration attorney will know that filing for a fiancée visa will result in a denial, whereas filing for a marriage visa petition will be successful because of the difference in the laws that govern these different kinds of visas.
After you read this article I hope you read the other articles on this website that discuss the next steps in the process. I have also written a book on the subject, which was published in November 2008, and republished in August 2010. The book is called No Price Too Great, and it can be found at its own website, which is www.LeeSolomon.org. It is also available through www.Amazon.com and all of the major book outlets. On the book's website, there is a blog by the author that provides updates that you may find to be of interest. The other articles and the book No Price Too Great were written for the same purpose, which is to provide general information, not legal advice.
If you are like most people and wonder whether you can possibly have a successful relationship with a woman from another culture, the book No Price Too Great addresses those concerns as well. But what about the child or children who will accompany my fiancée or spouse, you ask? How have other children done when they made the move to America? Fortunately, you can also gain some insight on that topic in the book No Price Too Great and from the author's blog that provides continuing updates at www.NoPriceTooGreat.com.
My daughter, for example, arrived in America shortly before turning age 15, speaking and understanding very little English. Sure she struggled in her freshman year of high school, but she overcame the language barrier and graduated as the class salutatorian. She was admitted to Mays School of Business and Texas A&M University and is making her mark there as well. The point is that children can adapt if they are provided the opportunity.
And what about your wife? Will she be happy in America, or will she regret coming here to be with you? I can only tell you that my wife has been very happy in America because she has many friends and activities that have fulfilled her life, and watching our daughter excel in school and have many friends has also been a source of happiness for her.
So with all of this in mind, let’s revisit the first question you should ask yourself, which is whether you want to try to do this (apply for a K-1 fiancée visa or a marriage visa) on your own, or hire an attorney who understands immigration law. Again, after being contacted by countless people who tried to handle the process on their own only to end up with frustrating delays and denials of their cases, I highly recommend that you make the decision to hire an immigration attorney to help with your case.
Be careful, though, if you decide to hire a lawyer. If you aren't careful, you may just think you are hiring a lawyer when in fact, once you sign the legal services agreement and pay the fee, you will find it is very difficult or even impossible to speak with a lawyer about your case. Instead, your case will be processed by paralegals or legal assistants and merely be signed by a lawyer. In other words, you won't get what you paid for.
If you end up in this situation, you will be frustrated to no end because the lawyer is not available to answer your questions during the processing of your case, and believe me, you will have questions. We know this because some of our clients came to us from other law firms when they found that the lawyer was never available to speak with them about their case.
If you decide to work with our law firm, all of our fiancée and marriage visa clients work directly with the lawyer all the way through their case. We successfully help people all over the world every day with their fiancée and marriage visa cases, and we can help you with your case as well.
I hope this article raises your awareness of the importance of deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer to handle your fiancée visa or marriage visa case. Whatever decision you make, we wish you good luck with your case. I hope this article and the other articles you can find on our website will be helpful to you.
Copyright 2014 By Lee Solomon