When an individual is considering coming to the United States permanently, they must be aware that there are numerous obligations and responsibilities which come with that opportunity. There are requirements as well as procedural laws which individuals are required to follow when they desire to enter into the United States for any duration of time.
Immigration laws are laws which regulate how individuals from other countries can qualify for visas and under what circumstances individuals who are in the United States may be deported. There are numerous categories of temporary visas and permanent visas individuals may obtain depending on their purpose for entering into the United States.
An individual who is already in the United States is required to abide by the immigration laws of the country. There are numerous immigrants who legally reside in the United States already and have a permanent visa, or green card.
An individual who has a green card can seek to become a United States citizen. They are required to refrain from engaging in conduct which would cause them to be deported.
It is important for individuals to make all possible attempts to legally reside in the United States. Immigrating to the United States can be a complex process and many individuals may have difficulty understanding all the nuances of immigration laws.
An immigration attorney can help an individual resolve any immigration issues which they may have.
What is Marriage?
Marriage is a legal status which is provided to a couple by their state government. Although some exceptions may exist, marriages should be recognized in every state in the United States as well as every nation in the world, regardless of where that marriage was issued.
Generally, a marriage is a desirable status because it provides certain unique rights, protections, and obligations at the state level and federal level for both spouses. This may include benefits in the areas of:
- Property ownership; and
- Other issues.
Marriage for same-sex couples became legal in 2015 in the United States following a Supreme Court decision. This means that marriage is now available for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.
What are Some Differences between Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships?
There are some significant differences between the responsibilities and benefits of marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. In most cases, an individual who is married enjoys more benefits than one of the alternative relationship arrangements.
Differences between these types of relationships may include:
- The legal recognition of the relationship in another state. For example, a civil union and a domestic partnerships may not always be recognized in other states;
- The ability to divorce in their state of residence, regardless of where the individuals were originally married;
- Various tax benefits which are only available to married couples;
- Immigration benefits when petitioning for a non-citizen spouse to relocate to the United States; and
- Federal benefits, including:
- social security;
- medical benefits; and
- life insurance.
One of the most significant differences between these relationships is how they are obtained. In most states, a marriage must be officiated by an individual who is a licensed religious official or is an individual who is licensed by a deputy of that state.
In most states, however, neither civil unions or domestic partnerships require religious officials to formalize the unions. In some cases, a domestic partnership may be free and is automatically granted if the individuals who are in the relationship qualify.
For example, if one or both of the individuals are over a specific age and have resided together for a specific period of time. It is important to note that the requirements for domestic partnerships and civil unions can vary from state to state.
Therefore, it is important to consult with a lawyer who can provide advice regarding the pros and cons of each type of legalized union in order to determine which best suits an individual’s needs.
What is an Immigration Marriage?
Marriage immigration occurs when an American citizen who is residing in the United States marries a non-citizen spouse who wants to obtain a visa to live and work permanently in the U.S. A non-citizen spouse can apply to enter the United States either on a fiancé or marriage visa.
What Types of Visas Can My Non-Citizen Spouse Get?
There are two categories of visas which spouses and significant others of American citizens may obtain, including marriage visas and fiancé visas. In order to apply for a marriage visa, the American spouse is required to file Form I-130, or Petition to Sponsor the Non-Citizen Spouse at the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office.
Once a Form I-130 is approved, the immigrant spouse is required to file documents and interview at their nearest American consulate. If all requirements are met, the non-citizen spouse will be approved for a visa to enter the United States.
In order to apply for a fiancé visa, the American fiancé is required to file Form I-129F, for Petition for a Foreign Fiancé as well as Form I-130. The non-citizen fiancé will then be called for an interview at the nearest American consulate.
If all requirements are met, the non-citizen fiancé will be approved for a visa. After the Form I-130 is approved, the non-citizen fiancé can then file for permanent residency while in the United States.
Can Same-Sex Couples Get a Marriage or Fiancé Visa?
Yes, a same-sex couple can obtain a fiancé or a marriage visa. The USCIA now applies the same rules and requirements to same-sex and opposite-sex couples following the Supreme Court holding that the Defense Against Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
The USCIS will review the laws of the jurisdiction where the marriage occurred and determine if that same-sex marriage is legally valid.
What Evidence is Needed to Prove That Our Marriage is Valid?
It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide the necessary evidence to establish that the marriage is valid. Evidence of a valid marriage may include:
- An official civil record;
- Marriage license; and
- Secondary evidence may be used, but only on a case-by-case basis.
What is the Role of an Immigration Lawyer?
An immigration lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in immigration laws in the United States. These laws may change with each presidency so it is important to have an attorney guiding an individual through the complex and ever-evolving immigration process.
Numerous immigrants choose to invest in the services of an immigration lawyer because even a simple, honest mistake on a green card or visa application may result in delays which may last several years. In addition, a mistake may lead to an application being denied or deported.
Immigration lawyers can provide information and guidance on many immigration-related topics, including:
Should I Get an Immigration Lawyer?
It is essential to have the assistance of an immigration lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to marriage immigration. Your lawyer can assist you with obtaining your visa and help ensure your visa application is processed as efficiently as possible.
Your lawyer will also represent you during any communications with the USCIS or hearings you are required to attend.