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5 Tips for Bringing Home an Immigrant Spouse After Living Abroad

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If you spend a significant time abroad, it is possible that you will find the person you want to marry outside of the United States. Figuring out the immigration process while you are abroad can be more difficult than figuring it out while you are living inside the US with your potential partner. Below are some tips to keep in mind to make the process as smooth as possible. 

Know When You Should Apply for a Fiance Visa as Opposed to a Spouse Visa 

Bringing a partner to the US actually has several visa options. There is a fiance visa as well as three different spouse visas. For most people, the quickest way to bring their partner to the US is to file a fiance visa and wait until they are in the US to get married. This is especially true if you are a same-sex couple living in a country that does not recognize same-sex marriages. 

However, if you get married while abroad, then you will need to decide which spouse visa is right for you. The K-3 spouse visa will usually be the quickest option to get to the US, but may be a longer overall process before your spouse is legally entitled to permanent residence or citizenship. 

Realize Your Options for Proving Support of Your Spouse

Some of the visa options for spouses require you to provide an affidavit of support that involves showing you have a home prepared for your partner as well as a job that will cover their living expenses. If you are currently living outside of the US, it may be difficult to prove you have these resources. However, a friend or family member can file an affidavit of support for your partner, making your move easier. Also, with some visa processes, you can apply for the initial visa and then file an affidavit of support after you and your partner have moved to the US. 

Apply as Soon as Possible 

The wait time for processing partner visas is considerable. Although it changes, fiance visas often take more than six months to process and spouse visas can take around 18 months or two years. If you plan to move to the US, or think you might, it is better to apply as soon as possible to make sure your visa is processed when you are ready to move. Once your visa is approved, you will have considerable time to make arrangements for your move. 

Consider Leaving Your Spouse Behind and Reuniting if Necessary

Although it is not ideal, there are some situations when you may have to leave your foreign spouse or fiance behind. If you need to file an affidavit of support and have no one to do so on your behalf, then you may have to go to the US before you can file the final petitions for your partner's visa. If you do plan to leave your spouse behind, talk to an immigration lawyer about which documents you can file before you leave for the US and which should be filed after you have arrived. 

Work With an Experienced Immigration Attorney 

While immigration petitions can be filed without the help of an attorney, if you live abroad, seeking legal advice is a smart move. A lawyer will make sure you know all of your options for the fastest and least expensive methods of immigration. They will also help you make sure you do not miss a step and have to start the long process all over again. Finally, lawyers can file many documents on your behalf, which can save you considerable amounts of time and frustration. You can find immigration attorneys through firms like Tesoroni & Leroy.