Should I or should I not get married if my boyfriend gets a visa?

In my column This week's Consulta Migratoria® answers a question from a reader who wants to know if she can marry her fiancé when she obtains a U.S. immigrant visa.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

My boyfriend, with whom I have been in a relationship for 3 years, has just received an immigrant visa through his U.S. citizen father, who petitioned for an unmarried child over 21 years of age. My boyfriend proposed to me and wants to live together in the United States. He has not yet traveled for the first time to receive his permanent residency. Our concern is whether we can get married in Colombia before he travels or should we wait until he travels and receives his green card and then get married to begin the process of my application as a permanent resident spouse. -Claudia B.

Claudia, yes, you can get married. Even if they are married, they could both immigrate to the United States. However, it all depends on how soon they want to come to the country and if they want to travel together.

In your case, the fastest way is for your fiancé to obtain permanent residency before you get married.

Here I explain the two options to immigrate to the United States through your future spouse:

OPTION #1: YOUR FIANCÉ BECOMES A PERMANENT RESIDENT AND THEN ASKS YOU FOR

The first option is for your boyfriend to travel to the United States on the immigrant visa issued to him by the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. His visa is classified under the F-1 family category, unmarried child over the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen, and your boyfriend can only use it if he remains unmarried.

Your boyfriend will become a permanent resident the moment a customs officer in the United States legally admits him to the country.

After obtaining residency, you get married so that your future spouse can file a family petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They will have to meet several requirements to approve the petition, including proving that your marriage is genuine and not just to acquire permanent residency.

If the USCIS approves the family petition, they will assign your case to the F-2A family category, spouse of a permanent resident of the United States.

According to the Department of State Visa Bulletin September 2015.F-2A family category cases filed before March 1, 2014 are being processed. That means you would have to wait approximately 18 months before an immigrant visa is available to you.

If you do not want to be separated during that time after you get married, your husband could travel regularly to Colombia until your visa is issued. However, your husband should not stay outside the U.S. for a long period of time if he wishes to become a U.S. citizen in the future.

If he prefers to remain in the United States, you will not be able to travel to the country while waiting for your immigrant visa, unless you obtain authorization from the federal government.

OPTION #2: GET MARRIED AND WAIT TOGETHER FOR AN IMMIGRANT VISA

The second option is to get married before your fiancé travels to the United States. By getting married, you will change your case to the F-3 family category, married child of a U.S. citizen, and you may be eligible for an immigrant visa through your spouse on a derivative basis.

Both of you will have to wait in Colombia until an immigrant visa is available for you. According to the September 2015 Visa Bulletin, F-1 and F-3 family category cases filed before December 15, 2007 and May 8, 2004, respectively, are being processed.

The additional waiting time for you to travel to the United States on an immigrant visa under the F-3 family category is approximately four years.

The advantage of doing it this way is that you will be able to travel together to the United States when the federal government grants you an immigrant visa. In addition, if you have children, they may also be able to obtain an immigrant visa on a derivative basis and travel with you.

Please consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any immigration proceedings.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog InmigracionHoy.com.

Send your questions to preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States) and presenter of immigration television segments of El Abogado a Tu Lado on NY1 News. He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. For information on how to consult with Dr. Castillo, click here. click here.

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.

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