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When immigration and marriage intersect

Like countless others in Texas and throughout the world, you may have spent your young adult life dreaming of finding a special someone with whom you'd want to spend the rest of your life. When you finally met a person that made your hopes and dreams seem quite plausible, you took the plunge and offered a marriage proposal. The rest was a whirlwind of emotion, and you are now happily married. 

The fact that your spouse is not a U.S. citizen and, in fact, still resides in another country of origin need not necessarily impede your plans. A key factor to smooth sailing may lie in how well you understand U.S. immigration law, especially regarding spouse immigration. It's true that various types of legal issues may arise that can substantially delay or halt your plans to bring the love of your life to the United States. In such cases, it's critical to know where to seek support.  

There are definite steps to the process 

U.S. immigration law is complex and often changes. Navigating the system can be very confusing and overwhelming, especially if you have no experience or background in the immigration process. The following list includes basic facts you'll want to know before you try to get your wedding wheels rolling: 

  • There are generally three things you must do to activate the system to assist your partner to legally enter the United States for the purpose of becoming your spouse. 
  • You can expect to fill out a written petition and to pay an application fee. 
  • If you're a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your spouse, which may expedite the immigration process. 
  • Once the U.S. government approves your petition, your spouse can apply for a visa. 
  • If your spouse remains outside the United States, a visa application will be fulfilled at a U.S. consulate.  

As newlyweds of less than two years, your spouse's visa will be conditional. There will be additional steps to take to remove the conditional status. You must take those steps within 90 days of your spouse's legal residence card expiration. If you've gone through all the proper channels for your spouse to apply for permanent residency, you may be able to reside in the U.S. together before officials grant final approval. This, however, would involve applying for another type of visa. 

No need to go it alone 

There are resources available to assist you in all aspects of the spouse immigration process. In light of the fact that deportations have increased and many families have experienced legal status problems that place one or more members at risk for removal, it's a good idea to connect with someone who is well-versed in U.S. immigration law to help you overcome any obstacles that arise.

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