Immigration Lawyer for Spouse Visa

marriage visa lawyer
Table of Contents

Marriage visas are one of several ways that exist for immigrants to achieve legal permanent residency status. If a foreign spouse wants to become a lawful permanent resident and be with their spouse in the United States, they will need to obtain a marriage-based green card. While this visa process can be an exciting time for a family, it can be confusing to tackle on your own. Working with a marriage visa lawyer can give you a better chance of approval when applying for an immigrant visa.

The marriage visa attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group have extensive experience handling many different immigration processes and applications. A Phoenix immigration attorney with our law firm will help you through the entire process from start to finish. We understand how important it is to be with those you love, so we’ll do everything we can to ensure that you and your spouse can be together. To schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney, please call our Phoenix office at 602-910-4040 today.

Marriage-Based Green Card

Let’s say that you and your spouse have decided to live together in the United States permanently. Congratulations! This is a big decision and a big step for any married couple. First, you’ll need to determine whether or not you are eligible to file a marriage visa application. So, who can apply for a marriage-based green card? In general, most couples qualify for marriage visas if one of the spouses is a green card holder or a U.S. citizen. Below, we explain the various requirements couples must meet before they can apply for marriage visas.

  • It must be a legally valid marriage. You can prove this by producing a marriage certificate. You must also prove that any previous marriage (if applicable) has been terminated. This could be through death, divorce, or annulment.
  • It must be a bona fide marriage, meaning the marriage was entered into for genuine reasons and not simply to obtain a green card or immigration benefits.
  • Those engaged in civil unions or domestic partnerships do not qualify for the marriage visa process. If you engage in polygamy and have multiple foreign spouses, these marriages are not legally valid under United States federal law. Therefore, a polygamous marriage would not qualify for spousal visas.
  • The petitioner must either be a green card holder or a United States citizen.
  • They must be legally married to the beneficiary, with the marriage being valid where it was originally conducted.
  • The petitioner must file an affidavit of support, meaning they pledge to support their spouse.
  • They must have the means to support their spouse. However, this isn’t the only person they need to support. Along with their spouse, they must be able to support themselves and their children at 125% of the federal poverty level. If they cannot afford to support everyone on their own, they may have a joint sponsor.
  • They must live in the United States or intend to return with their foreign spouse.

In general, beneficiaries are eligible for marriage visas and green cards once they lawfully marry a U.S. citizen or green card holder. So instead, we’ll look at some factors that may result in a denial of applications for beneficiaries.

  • Having certain diseases, mental illnesses, or failing to get the required vaccinations.
  • Medical evidence of continuous addiction or drug abuse.
  • Convictions of certain serious crimes. Some crimes are eligible for a waiver, while others are not.
  • Those who are deemed a potential security risk may also be denied a green card. These generally do not qualify for waivers.
  • If someone has violated immigration law in the past, they may be barred from obtaining a green card. One example is lying to Customs and Border Protection or to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Under the Trump administration, a new “public charge rule” was put into place that made it more difficult to qualify for green cards. However, this has been paused indefinitely by the Department of State.

What Is a Marriage Visa?

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A Marriage Visa is a visa that grants the spouse of an American citizen the right to come to the United States and obtain a Green Card. It may also be referred to as a CR1 or IR1 visa. Both the citizen and his or her spouse wishing to enter the country must meet the minimum requirements for this immigration benefit. If both parties are eligible, a marriage immigration lawyer like Abogado Ray can help you to obtain a Marriage Visa.

If your fiancé or spouse is already legally living in the United States, you will take other measures to keep them in the country permanently. This may be done through an adjustment of status.

It is important to understand that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, any process for immigration services has been delayed. Expect longer delays as well as the possibility of changed procedures once the virus has been stabilized.

A CR1 visa is a type of immigrant visa for foreign spouses of U.S. citizens or green card holders. These spouses can obtain a Conditional Resident Visa (CR1 visa) if they have been married for less than two years. Once they have been in the United States for two years, the petitioner and the beneficiary must petition for the removal of conditions from their green card. They will then receive a 10-year legal permanent resident card.

An IR1 Visa (Immediate Relative Visa) is similar, but it works for spouses who have been married for longer than two years. Their visas will not be a conditional green card. Instead, they can wait 10 years before renewing their permanent residents card. Both the CR1 and IR1 visas can be applied for by foreign spouses at a United States Embassy or Consulate. This process is called consular processing.

Marriage-Based Green Card Process

Once you have confirmed your eligibility for marriage-based green cards, you can formally begin the application process. Below, we list all the steps required of both the petitioning spouse and the beneficiary spouse.

  1. Submit Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) along with all its supporting documents. This document serves to establish a valid marriage between the petitioner and the beneficiary. You will need to mail the I-130 packet to USCIS once it is completed.
  2. The next step depends on whether the beneficiary currently resides in the United States. If they do, they will need to file Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) with USCIS. This allows the beneficiary to adjust status from the visa they already have to a marriage green card.
  3. If the beneficiary does not reside in the United States, they will undergo consular processing. This involves submitting Form I-130 and supporting evidence to USCIS. Once approved, your file goes to the National Visa Center. You will submit a filing packet to the NVC that includes the filing fee ($445), the Form DS-260 (Green Card Application), proof of nationality, police clearance documents, and Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support).
  4. Attend the visa interview. If you filed a Form I-485, your spouse must attend the interview with you. If you filed a Form DS-260, only the beneficiary must attend.

What Are the Legal Requirements for a Marriage Visa?

There are a few requirements that must be met in order to successfully obtain a Marriage Visa. For one, you or your spouse must be a U.S. citizen. The CR1 visa is only available to citizens as of right now. If you or your spouse is a permanent resident, you may file for a Marriage Visa through the F2A spousal visa. The process is similar to the CR1 process but may take a bit longer.

You cannot file for a Marriage Visa unless you are currently legally married. If you are not yet married but would like to marry in the U.S. at a later date, you should obtain the Fiancé Visa instead. You must also be able to support your spouse financially. There are federal poverty guidelines that must be met to prove that you are able to support yourself and your spouse. If you do not meet these criteria, you may also use a cosponsor or other assets in order to meet the necessary requirements.

Finally, you or your spouse (whoever is immigrating) must have obeyed USCIS Immigration Laws. Illegal entry into the country or overstaying a visa may prevent your ability to obtain a Marriage Visa.

Required Documents for a Marriage-Based Green Card

It’s important to have a list handy when you’re gathering documents for the application process. Working with skilled immigration lawyers can be an invaluable choice, as they will ensure that you don’t forget anything important. After all, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared for a situation this critical. Below, we list all the documents you’ll need for this immigration process.

  • Birth certificate
  • Supporting financial documents
  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of citizenship or permanent resident status of the sponsor
  • Proof of lawful entry
  • Medical exam documents
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Military records
  • Immigration law violation records
  • Any current or expired visas
  • Proof of termination of prior marriage

Proving a Legally Valid Marriage Exists

One of the most important parts of this immigration process is proving a legally valid, bona fide marriage exists between you and your spouse. With the help of an immigration attorney, producing the following forms of proof can help prove a bona fide relationship.

  • Joint bank accounts with both spouses’ names
  • Proof of jointly owned property, such as cars or properties
  • Loans or mortgages that have joint payment responsibilities
  • Joint credit cards
  • Joint insurance policies
  • Life insurance policy where each spouse lists the other as the primary beneficiary

Proving U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency

In order to prove U.S. citizen or permanent residents status, you can provide the following evidence (copies only).

  • United States passport
  • United States birth certificate
  • Naturalization or citizenship certificate
  • Alien registration card

Marriage-Based Green Card Interview Questions

As we mentioned earlier, you and your spouse will need to prepare for and attend a marriage visa interview. It’s important to have an understanding of what questions the interviewer may ask before you attend the interview. This way, you can make sure that you’re as prepared as possible to provide thorough answers to avoid any immigration issues. Below, we provide examples of what an interviewer may ask you or your spouse during the interview.

  • Where did the two of you meet?
  • Where did you go for some of your first dates?
  • How did your marriage proposal happen?
  • How long were you together before you wanted to get married?
  • Describe your wedding ceremony. Who was there? What food did you eat?
  • Did you take part in any special ceremonies or rituals during the wedding?
  • Where did you go on your honeymoon?
  • What are your daily routines like at home?
  • How do both of you start your days?
  • Do you often talk when you have to be physically apart?
  • Does one of you cook or clean more than the other?
  • If you have children, how do they get to school each day?
  • Do you know any of your children’s friends?
  • Which side of the bed do you prefer?
  • Do you know of any medications your spouse is taking?
  • Do you know each other’s birthdays?
  • What is the most important holiday in your house?

The biggest piece of advice we can give is to be open and honest with the interviewer. An interviewer’s goal isn’t to determine that you have a perfect marriage. They simply want to determine its legitimacy. You can also decline to answer any questions that you feel uncomfortable with. Your immigration attorney will likely encourage you to practice a mock interview with them to guarantee that you’re as prepared as possible.

What Is the CR1 Visa Processing Time?

The processing time for a CR1 visa, from beginning to end, is generally 10 months to a year. If you are a permanent resident rather than a citizen and are filing through an F2A spousal visa, it may take up to two years.

Again, remember that the processing time has been significantly delayed due to the coronavirus. These times are based on the average processing times before the pandemic and what you might be able to expect once it subsides.

Once your CR1 petition gets filed with the USCIS, it may take anywhere from one to three months before you receive a receipt notice and case number. It may then take an additional 5-8 months before you receive an approval notice.

The next step will be the USCIS transferring your petition to the National Visa Center to review your submitted financial and civil documents. Once that has been approved, it will be transferred to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country outside of the states where you or your spouse resides. This will likely take an additional 1-3 months.

After the U.S. embassy obtains your file, the spouse wishing to enter the United States must schedule a medical exam and prepare for the interview. If both are successful, the spouse will be issued the Marriage Visa.

Once the immigrating spouse enters the U.S., this visa will serve as proof of permanent residence. Within the next two months, you should then receive the Green Card.

Can I Use Premium Processing for a Marriage Visa?

No. At this time, premium processing is only available for green card and visa petitioners who submit the I-129 and I-140 petitions. You cannot shorten the marriage-based green card process by opting for premium processing.

How Much Does a Marriage Green Card Cost?

The total cost of this process varies depending on whether you apply from within or outside the United States.

If you apply from outside the country, your total cost will be $1,200. If you apply from within the country, your total cost will be $1,760.

What Is the Immigration Lawyer Marriage Cost?

Government and medical fees for a CR1 generally total around $1500, depending on the country you or your spouse is emigrating from. The cost is not due all at one time but rather is spread out throughout the course of the visa application process. This does not include lawyer fees, which will be a separate cost. The cost for an immigration lawyer depends on the experience and qualifications of the professional and the state in which they practice.

Marriage-Based Green Card Denial

marriage visa

In some cases, the USCIS may deny green cards to foreign spouses of U.S citizens. There are many reasons for this, and some are eligible for waivers. Below, we list several reasons why you may receive a denial of your green card application from USCIS.

  • You could not prove a bona fide marriage.
  • You made mistakes or wrote incorrect information in your green card application packet.
  • There were not enough financial resources to prove that the petitioner could support the beneficiary.
  • Sometimes, either party may not be eligible to apply for a green card from within the country. There are many reasons for this, so we recommend speaking with an experienced immigration attorney if this happens to you.
  • Lastly, certain immigration violations or criminal convictions could bar someone from eligibility period. Other bars to eligibility exist, some of which might qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility. Recently, the USCIS has changed its bars of inadmissibility. Discuss these changes with your attorney to see if you still qualify.

Marriage Visa FAQs

Yes, as long as you qualify. If you do qualify, the process will most likely take longer than a year, maybe even longer. If you’re interested in a marriage visa, speak with an immigration law firm with extensive experience handling these cases. Without following protocol, it can be very easy to receive a denial based on a small error or a technical problem.

Yes. They can file a Petition for Alien Relative in order to have their spouse come to the United States. We’ve outlined this process in more detail above, so be sure to read over any sections relevant to your case. You can also contact our immigration law firm for a more personal evaluation of your case. This way, we can recommend what to do next and help you along in that process.

No. As the name suggests, one visa applies to married couples, while the other visa applies to engaged couples. A fiancée visa is also called a K-1 visa. Some parts of these visa processes overlap, but the fiance visa process is not exactly the same as the marriage immigration process. Be sure to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you understand the process of whichever applies to your situation.

Contact a Marriage Visa Lawyer with YMLG Today

If you have any more questions or are looking to obtain a Marriage Visa, or CR1 visa, you need an experienced immigration lawyer. At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we can help you determine if you are eligible and ensure you file the correct paperwork. Our firm is committed to becoming the best law firm for Latino, migrant, and Spanish-speaking communities in the state of Arizona. Contact us today for a confidential case evaluation by calling 602-910-4040. When you establish an attorney-client relationship with us, any confidential or sensitive information you give us will remain confidential.


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