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Obtaining a green card for a fiancé or spouse

Under United States immigration laws, U.S. citizens are given an avenue to bring their foreign national fiancés or spouses into the country so they can spend their lives together. But the laws surrounding applying for fiancé visas and marriage petitions are complex, and few situations are black and white.

One situation that sometimes arises is that a foreign national will be granted a green card through marriage and then is naturalized, only to have the marriage end in divorce. Of course, that person is entitled to remain a United States citizen, but what if that person decides to enter a second marriage with a non-U.S. citizen?

According to a 1990 law, a person in this situation can divorce and file for a green card on behalf of a new spouse within five years of getting permanent residence so long as the new marriage is bona fide, or legitimate. In other words, if both marriages were real and not "green card marriages" this is allowed.

In order to bring a fiancé or a spouse into the United States, the citizen spouse must correctly fill out and file a USCIS Form I-129F. On the form, the citizen spouse must establish evidence of his or her citizenship in the United States.

If the marriage has not yet taken place, the citizen fiancé must demonstrate that 1) the couple met within the last two years and 2) the couple plans to marry within 90 days of the foreign national fiancé entering the United States.

Oftentimes, the citizen spouse or fiancé must also demonstrate to the U.S. consulate in his or her fiancé's or spouse's country that he or she can sponsor, or economically support, their fiancé or spouse. Typically, a level of income and assets has to be met in order to qualify.

As you can see, there are complicated steps involved with bringing foreign national fiancés or spouses into the country. An experienced immigration law attorney can help with the process.

Source: New York Daily News, "A divorced, remarried citizen can file for a green card for his new wife, provided the marriage qualifies as 'real'," Nov. 29, 2012

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