In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, our team wanted to send a reminder of the immigration options available to married and engaged couples.

Non-U.S. Spouses of U.S. Citizens Close family ties, such as a spousal relationship, are the most common way to obtain permanent residence in the United States. Non-U.S. spouses of U.S. citizens are able to obtain permanent resident status, symbolized to many as the “green card,” which gives a non-U.S. spouse the right to live and work in the United States without a time limitation and qualify as an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen. They are also highly preferred as candidates for immigration with no numerical limitation placed on the number of immediate relatives of citizens who may become permanent residents in any one year. Eligibility is simple: The marriage must not be a “sham.” Rather, (a) it must have been legally entered into, and (b) it must still exist. Same sex couples are afforded equal protection for purposes of spousal immigration cases and may access spousal immigration benefits.

Fiancé Visas Visas are also issued when U.S. citizens wish to bring a foreign national fiancé living abroad to the United States with the intent to marry. In non-U.S. fiancé cases, the U.S. citizen must demonstrate that he or she is (a) a U.S. citizen, (b) intending to marry within 90 days of their non-U.S. fiancé entering the United States, and (c) free to marry, with any previous marriage legally terminated. After admission to the United States, a non-U.S. fiancé may immediately apply for permission to work. Any work authorization would be valid for 90 days after entry, but is eligible for extension through the green card process. As to the processing timelines and wedding planning, each non-U.S. fiancé visa case varies and timelines will differ depending on the procedures in place at the various consulates across the globe.