Dating a woman from a Russian speaking country can be really exciting. No matter that now you live far away from each other, if your have found a woman you were searching for and your feelings are mutual, you have all the chances to turn this distant love into a happy family life in your native country. However, you both should be prepared to pass through legal procedures that are necessary for all the couples where one person is a USA citizen and another is a foreigner.
There is really a great amount of paperwork to be done, but it is not as difficult as may seem from the start. You can hire an immigration attorney or turn to a special agency providing immigration assistance services. However, we know many couples who did it without professional help. What is better in your case rather depends on your understanding of the process, time available and particular situation.
This article is a brief outline of the things you should know and do when you want to marry a Russian woman and bring her to the USA. Let's suppose you have already traveled to meet your girlfriend in her country or elsewise came to that important decision. Well, that means the time has come to start immigration process. You will need to apply for fiancee visa. This type of visa is the best, if not the only suitable way if your intention is marriage.
fiancee visa vs. its alternatives
The fiancee visa, or K1 visa, is a special type of visa issued for those intending to enter the USA in order to get married. It allows your lady to stay in the USA for 90 days, within which your marriage must take place. If your do not marry within 90 days, she will be required to leave the USA. There is no way for a fianc? to obtain extension of the 90-day period. fiancee visa gives you a chance to live together in the United States to experience what it will be like before you have married. If your fiancee has unmarried children under 21, they can come to the USA with her using K2 Visa.
It often happens that US citizens engaged to Russian women make them apply for tourist visa to speed up the process. You should know that it is almost impossible for an unmarried Russian woman to receive a tourist visa. It will just create difficulties in obtaining the K-1 visa. End even if your lady somehow manages to obtain a tourist visa, it will create subsequent difficulties for you both. If a foreign woman comes to the USA on a tourist visa and gets married to an American citizen, the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services will most likely subject you to an investigation for a sham marriage. You wife can then be refused permanent resident status and even deported with no right to return.
Some couples are thinking about getting married in Russia and then applying for a K-3 spousal visa rather than a K-1 fiancee visa. The K-3 spousal visa process is as complicated as the one with K-1 fiancee visa, and CIS countries require almost as much paperwork for an American to get married in their country as the USA require for a Russian woman to get married in America. Obviously, the process will take much longer time than with a fiancee visa.
Who is eligible for fiancee visa
The following requirements are set to those applying for the fiancee visa:
1. You must be a U.S. citizen.
2. You and your fiancee must be legally able to marry. This means you are unmarried or you can provide divorce, annulment, or spouse's death certificates.
3. You and your fiancee should have met in person at least once during last 2 years. Be ready to demonstrate it via your photographs, airline tickets, etc. Though theoretically possible, waivers for this requirement are rarely granted.
4. Your fiancee must have no criminal records.
5. Your fiancee must have no violations of the U.S. immigration laws.
6. You should meet certain income requirements.
The procedure is initiated by the USA citizen, i.e. by you. You should go to US Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services website (http://www.uscis.gov) and download the following forms:
1. I-129F Petition for Alien fiancee
2. G-325A Biographic Information
Complete these forms. G-325A should be completed for both you and your fiancee. These form along with nice cover letter and all required supporting documents should be mailed to the USCIS Service Center serving your area of residence.
Supporting documents (all foreign documents must be translated into English):
1. Proof of your U.S. citizenship (copy of passport and/or birth certificate).
2. Copies of your and your fiancee's divorce, annulment, or spouse's death certificates.
3. Passport-style photographs of each of you.
4. Evidence that you and your fiancee met in person during last to years.
5. Evidence that your relationships are valid. You need to convince the USCIS that you are getting married not for immigration benefits of your fiancee. The evidence may include photos of you and your fianc? together and with family, telephone bills or emails showing that you stay in touch, evidence of time spent together like matching exit/entry stamps in passports, plane tickets, bills and statements for hotel stays, car rental, etc. The more evidence you provide the better.
6. The affidavit of support. It is a pledge on behalf of the USA citizen proving that if the fiancee is allowed entrance to the United States she will be financially supported and is unlikely to become a public charge. The affidavit of support itself requires supporting documentation.
After you have forwarded all the necessary documents to the USCIS Service Center, you will be waiting to receive a notice of action (I-797), which means that your petition has received conditional approval and your case will be further processed. Approval of the petition may take from several weeks to several months. The secret of success partially lies in the perfectly completed petition and case monitoring. Your fiancee will be notified about petition approval and the need to start gathering the necessary documents. She will need to complete and send the form stating that the documents have been requested. Your fiancee will be notified of her interview date and medical institutions where she can have her medical exam completed. She must have no serious mental illnesses or communication deficiencies.
The interview process usually doesn't take much time. It is important that your fiancee has all the necessary documents. The consulate officer will review the documents and ask questions to determine that your relations are non-fraudulent and that your fiancee will not become a public charge in the USA. If to the consulate officer's opinion the fiancee meets all of the requirements, she will be issued a K-1 visa that allows her one entry to the USA within next six months. Alternatively, the consulate officer can make a resolution that she has to apply for waiver of grounds of inadmissibility, request additional documents, or issue a denial. The denial reasons include but are not limited to arrests and criminal records, prior immigration violations, health related grounds, visa fraud.
If you were lucky to get the visa and your marriage took place, your wife should apply for conditional permanent status based on marriage. She will receive conditional green card, which allows to receive social security card. Within 3 months after your second marriage anniversary you and your wife should apply for removal of the conditions of permanent residence based on marriage. The USCIS will invite you for the interview to determine if your marriage is a sham one or not. You should again be ready to provide the evidence: your children birth certificates, documents for joint-owned property, driver's licenses with the same address, joint bank accounts, wedding photos, etc. If you pass the interview successfully, your wife will become a permanent resident and receive permanent green card. 3 years after receiving permanent green card your wife may apply for USA citizenship. By that time she must be proficient in the English language and have the knowledge of the history and governmental structure of the United States to pass the necessary exam.