Family law issues can be extremely complicated, but it becomes even more complicated if one or both spouses are not U.S. citizens, causing immigration issues to be addressed as well.  However, there are some common ways for a U.S. citizen to sponsor a foreign national spouse for residence in the United States. 


K-1 Fiancé Visa

            This option is available if the sponsoring person is a U.S. citizen, and if the marriage will take place in the United States.  If these requirements are met, the U.S. citizen spouse can file an I-129F form to sponsor his/her fiancé for the K-1 visa.  Once the petition is approved, the file is forwarded to the U.S. consulate closest to where the foreign fiancé is living.  The foreign party has an interview at the consulate and applies for a K-1 visa. If they are granted this visa, they can enter the United States.  Once they enter, the couple must marry within 90 days and then the former spouse must submit the 1-485 (formerly known as a green card) application for U.S. resident qualification. 


1-130 Petition and Consular Processing

            If the couple is already married, but the foreign spouse is living overseas, the U.S. citizen spouse can file an I-130 petition in order to sponsor the foreign spouse.  Once the petition if approved, the file is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) and they are tasked with collecting the fees and civil documents.  Once all the required materials are collected, the file is forwarded to the U.S. consulate that is closest to the where the foreign spouse is living.  That spouse then has an interview at the U.S. consulate. If the spouse is approved, he/she is given an immigrant visa to enter the U.S.  After they have been in the U.S. for a few months, he/she will receive a green card in the mail.


I-130 Petition and 1-485 Application for Permanent Residence

            If the foreign spouse is already living in the United States with a valid immigration status, it is usually possible for him/her to apply for permanent residence from within the United States.  In order to do this, the couple would submit the I-130 form and the I-485 form at the same time.  Assuming everything goes well, the foreign national spouse would receive permanent residence within a few months without having to leave the United States. 


            It is evident that this process can be very daunting and complicated.  Attorney Van Smith has extensive experience helping individuals with immigration issues in divorce and custody matters in Virginia. If you need assistance, give the attorneys at Smith Strong a call at (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298.

H. Van Smith
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