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Chapter 44 - Immigration Options

General Overview

After a relationship has been established abroad the task of getting your fiancee into the United States legally is at hand. Normally you will have to have your fiancee or wife processed through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Dependent on numerous factors this process could be as little as 2-3 months or as long as 8-12 months. Knowing your options up front will help you make the best decision for the both of you regarding your future immigration.

If you can prepare your own tax return, then you can file the appropriate forms with INS yourself. Some INS forms are provided free to the public by visiting a local office or by calling. You could also hire a lawyer (Board Certified in Immigration Law), but they are normally quite expensive. TLC Worldwide Inc sells an "Immigration Guide" for only $99.00 which contains official INS forms arranged in a logical, organized, chronological order. This kit can keep you one step ahead in the preparation aspect since you already have the actual documents that will be sent to your fiancee from the American Embassy. Periodically TLC has this kit reviewed by a Board Certified Immigration Attorney and we feel it's worth many times the retail price of $99.00.

There are essentially three methods used to bring your foreign fiancee or wife back to the United States to live with you.

Fiancee (K-1) VISA

This visa will permit your fiancee to enter the United States with the intention of the two of you marrying within 90 days of her arrival. If after that period of time no marriage occurs, then she must return to her country of origin.

This visa normally is the quickest (3-5 months) in getting your fiancee to the U.S.


1. Both of you must be unmarried (no pending divorce), and thus legal to marry.

2. You must have met your fiancee in person within the last two years. Typically this meeting will occur in her native country.

3. You are a U.S. citizen.

4. There exists an "intent" of marriage between the two parties to become married within the 90 day period of her arrival. For this reason it is a good idea to keep all telephone bills, letters between the two of you, and any announcements regarding the future wedding.

5. Fee of $75.00 sent to the regional INS office along with the related paperwork. This petition will be reviewed, and if approved will be sent to the American Embassy in her country. The American embassy will then forward the appropriate papers to your fiancee to schedule an interview & to complete her application. Only after this interview (with her visa approved) will your spouse be permitted to enter the United States. Only then should you arrange airline tickets for her.

* Note: List of specific documents needed is provided in "The Romance Zone."

Petition for Alien Family Member (Your Spouse)

This visa will permit your wife (after marrying abroad) to legally enter the United States. The specifics of "Marring Abroad" will be covered in the next chapter. After you have successfully married outside of the U.S.A., you will need to apply for a Petition for Alien Family Member, Form I-130 form with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

For unknown reasons this visa can take longer to process than the Fiancee K-1 Visa. Normal processing takes anywhere from 4-12 months. If any document is submitted incomplete or wrong, the delay could be even longer.

After returning from your honeymoon you will submit the appropriate paperwork to the regional INS office nearest you.

After everything is approved, she will be permitted to join you. After she is approved, you can then purchase her airline ticket.

* Note: List of specific documents needed is provided in "The Romance Zone."

Tourist Visas

Tourist Visas are issued by the American Embassies abroad. They are not issued routinely in third world countries unless an applicant (your girlfriend) has assets, property, and political or social status. This policy is to ensure that unskilled, poorly educated people will not enter the United States and burden our economic system and welfare or social programs. If the applicant can demonstrate their willingness and the probability to return to their homeland a visa could be granted. Thus, for most single ladies without substantial property, a tourist visa is really not an option for visitation or immigration.

If the lady you are interested in has a tourist visa already, then you're lucky. She can visit you without you leaving the country. If she does visit you and the both of you marry, you will simply file form I-485 with a local office INS to apply for her resident card and adjust her Visa status.

* Cautionary Note: Do not become involved with any persons who claim to be able to purchase tourist visas in foreign countries. Typically these are illegal scams which could jeopardize your fiancee's ability to apply for a Fiancee Visa or a Relative (Spousal) Visa at a later date legitimately. Never list inaccurate or incorrect information in any of these filings.

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