SPOUSE: U.S. Citizens ("USC") and Lawful Permanent Residents ("LPR" or "green card holder") can both sponsor the immigration of their same or opposite sex spouses, so long as they can show that their marriage is:
Legally valid, where it occurred; and
"Bona fide", which means the marriage is not just a convenient way for the spouse of the USC or LPR to become an LPR themselves.
Spouses of USCs have a number of immigration advantages that spouses of LPRs do not, making the process easier for them. For example, spouses of USCs may be able to "adjust status" in the U.S. instead of having to pursue an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They also benefit from certain "inadmissibility" exceptions. Spouses of USCs are also not subject to annual visa caps (or a limit on how many of these visas are available). For more information, Contact Us for an initial consultation.
FIANCÉ(E): USCs (but not LPRs, unfortunately) can sponsor their same or opposite sex fiancé(e), so long as their engagement is: • "Bona fide", which means the engagement is not just a handy way for the sponsored financé(e) to become an LPR; and, • The couple has met in person at least once during the two years before they apply (or they meet one of the rare exceptions). Although these K-1 or "fiancé(e)" visas are not subject to annual visa caps, they have their own unique requirements. For example, the couple must legally wed within 90 days after the fiancé(e) enters the U.S. Once married the now "USC spouse" can remain in the U.S. and apply to "adjust status" from K-1 visa holder to LPR. But, if a fiancé(e) enters the U.S. and does not marry their USC sponsor within 90 days, they will almost always have to leave the U.S. Staying here by changing immigration status or marrying someone else is simply not an option for most non-citizens with K-1 visas. On the plus side, unmarried children of the fiancé(e) who are under 21 years old, may be able to emigrate with them. For more information, Contact Us for an initial consultation.
WIDOW(ER): Like other areas of family immigration, the law differs if your deceased spouse was a USC or an LPR. If a USC dies during or before filing for their non-citizen spouse, this spouse - now the widow(er) of a USC - may still be able to become an LPR. The widow(er) must prove that:
S/he was legally married (and not legally separated or divorced) at the time their USC spouse died;
the marriage was "bona fide", which means the marriage was not just a convenient way for the widow(er) to become an LPR; and,
if the USC died before filing anything, the non-citizen widow must file his/her petition within two years of the USC's death.
Children of non-citizen widow(er)s may be able to immigrate with their parent if they are unmarried and under age 21 at the time of filing.
If an LPR dies after submitting an immigration petition for their spouse - now widow(er) - the petition will be cancelled upon their death. If it has already been approved, however, and certain conditions are met, it may be reinstated in order for the processing to continue (but only for the widow(er) - not for any children listed on their petition.) What if the LPR dies while the immigration petition is still pending? In this case, if the widow(er) was residing in the U.S. when the LPR died and continues to reside in the U.S., then the petition may be able to continue, but under a different law - one which thankfully allows any children listed on this petition to remain part of it. For more information, Contact Us for an initial consultation.
SPOUSES and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE USC or LPR spouses, of any gender or sexual orientation, (and/or their children) who are being or have been abused by their USC or LPR spouse, may be able to immigrate, without the USC's or LPR's continued sponsorship. This is possible under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).