Getting Married In The United States - What The USCIS Has To Say
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The United States has any number of beautiful settings for a couple to get married in. Hawaii for example is considered the honeymoon capital of the world as its picture postcard beaches make excellent romantic settings for a marriage. These settings don't just draw US citizens, they draw couples from all over the world and there are a few things nonimmigrants need to know before they decide that the US is where they want to tie the knot.
Nonimmigrants Getting Married in the United States
For starters every state has different requirements for a marriage license. Some require waiting times, some require blood tests and others just need to see proof of identity and the license fee. Nonimmigrants need to check with the state's chamber of commerce to get the details on what is required in the state they intend to get married in. If the couple is simply coming to the United States to get married and go on a honeymoon, then in all likelihood they will only need a tourist visa to gain entry to the country. These can be applied for at the nearest consulate in their country of origin.
US Citizens with Immigrant Fiances
US citizens who have foreign fiances and desire to get married in the United States have a slightly different situation. If an immigrant marries a US citizen he or she has opened the door to permanent resident status. As a result, some disreputable citizens have married immigrants simply for the immigrant to gain the permanent resident status, not for love, but usually for money. Marriages of convenience are considered fraudulent by the USCIS and can result in investigations that end in deportation hearings. However, for the thousands of legitimate marriages between citizens and immigrants, the USCIS has a visa known as K-1 that allows a temporary legal status to those fiances who live in other countries. These visas are good for 90 days and the wedding has to occur during this time frame. If a K-1 visa holder has unmarried children under 18, they can be issued K-2 visas so they can accompany their mother or father to the States. Once the wedding has taken place, both the K-1 and K-2 visa holders can apply for a change in status to permanent resident.
US citizens who get married abroad to a non-citizen
If a US marries overseas to a foreign national he or she can submit a petition to sponsor the spouse for immigration to the US. In addition, the citizen can submit an a separate application for a K-3 visa that would allow the spouse to enter the country and await the results of the original petition. If the immigrant spouse has unmarried children, they can be allowed entry through a K-4 visa. There is one major restriction to this spouse visa. The immigrant spouse, or his or her children cannot already be in the United States when the visa application is submitted. It is the objective of United States immigration policy to keep families unified and the K-1 and K-3 visas are designed to do just that for immigrants wanting to get married in the United States or to live with their spouse in the States.