What to Know about Marrying a Non-US Citizen
Love knows no bounds, and it’s not surprising that many people are finding love abroad. Whether it’s a holiday romance or finding your significant other while on a military assignment in a foreign country, many United States citizens want to bring their new fiancé to live with them in the United States. To do this, you must start by obtaining what’s known as a fiancé, or K-1, visa.
In the event you already married outside of the United States, then you would need to look into the requirements to bring your spouse to live in the country. And, what happens if the marriage doesn’t work out? What does that mean for divorce and their ability to stay in the country?
Eligibility for K-1 Visa
In order to obtain a fiancé K-1 visa, you must intend to be married within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival in the United States as a K-1 nonimmigrant. It must be a valid relationship, and the marriage cannot be only for the purpose of obtaining residency. Both parties must be free to marry, which means if you have been married before, any prior marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, annulment, or death. And you must have met your fiancé in person at least once within the two-year period prior to filing for the visa, unless you obtain a waiver.
Divorce When You Have a Green Card
Depending on the circumstances, divorcing a non-US citizen can have consequences for that person. If the immigrant spouse is still covered under conditional permanent resident status, then a divorce would affect their immigration status. Conditional green cards are for individuals who have been married less than two years. Once the two years have passed as a conditional permanent resident, the spouses can file a joint petition to have those conditions removed. In the event you have separated, there may be an option to get a waiver. Waivers are an option in situations where the immigrant spouse can prove certain criteria, including that the marriage was entered into in good faith and the immigrant spouse was not at fault for the separation, or that the immigrant spouse was battered or subject to extreme cruelty.
Prenuptial Agreements and Immigrant Visas
While there is no requirement to have a prenuptial agreement, if you do plan to have one drafted, it must be disclosed during the visa process or the immigrant spouse could be accused of misrepresentation, and both parties might be subjected to financial penalties and/or criminal charges. The prenuptial must also be provided in your fiancé’s native language. A prenuptial agreement may or may not help with your case as it could look bad if you have no commingled assets while others may use it as a weapon during a divorce to allege their spouse only married for a green card.
Retaining a Virginia Family Law Attorney
If you need assistance with drafting marital agreements or to initiate divorce proceedings with a non-US-citizen spouse, it’s important to retain a skilled Virginia family law attorney. You need an attorney who understands the nuances with prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and can apply them to the intricacies of a marriage involving at least one green card holder. Contact the Law Offices of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.