9 Steps for Bringing Your Same-sex Fiancé to the U.S.
Did you have a romantic rendezvous on your vacation abroad? Have you been chatting with a sexy man on the other side of the world? Long distance relationships can be difficult, even more so if they are international. If you really want to take your relationship to the next level you and your partner will probably need to live in the same country? Unfortunately, the U.S. does not hand out visitor visas to just anyone. Many single men who come from non industrialized nations have difficulty obtaining visitors or student visas. They can not hop on a plane for a visit, and those that can visit easily, such as Europeans cannot also work here.
If your new beau is from a country such as the Philippines, or Thailand, China or Cameroon, they need to apply for visa to come to the U.S. If you were part of a straight couple you could fly to their country get married and apply for a marriage visa based on the foreign marriage. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage is not legal in most countries so the next best option is to petition for a fiancée visa so your future spouse can come to the U.S. marry you and then adjust his status that of a lawful permanent resident i.e. get a green card.
The fiancé visa process, like most immigration processes, is not quick and can be complicated, an immigration attorney can help you through the process. I’ve outlined the general steps below.
Step 1: Meet your Fiancé in Person Some of you may have met your new boyfriend on a trip abroad, but these days many gay and lesbians start relationships online regardless of location. However, the U.S. government requires that you prove that you have met your fiancé in person AND within the last two years. The only exceptions are for religious reasons or exceptional circumstances such as a serious medical condition that prevents you from traveling outside of the country. It’s probably better for the relationship anyway that you’ve met your fiancé in person before you spend all the time, money, and emotional energy required for this process.
Step 2: Gather evidence of your relationship and other required documents. It is not enough to put your fiancé’s name on a petition, you will need to convince the U.S. government that your relationship is genuine and that you’ve met within the last two years. This can be done by gathering photos of the two of you together, plane tickets or itineraries, passport stamps showing your recent visit. Screenshots of text messages, Facebook chats, emails, actual letters or postcards, hotel receipts, love letters, declarations from friends or family who know about your relationship or any other document you think shows that your more than acquaintances. In addition to the relationship evidence you will also need to prove you are a U.S. Citizen. This can be done with a copy of your U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport I.D. Page , Naturalization Certificate of Certificate of Citizenship.
Step 3: File a Fiancé Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services . To begin the process, you, the U.S. Citizen must file form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé with USCIS and include the evidence mentioned above, a passport photo of you and your fiancé and a check or money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $535.00. It is not required to have an attorney when filing immigration petitions, but it is recommended for those who do not have a thorough understanding U.S. immigration laws and the complicated process.
Step 4: Be Prepared for a long wait. The current processing time for fiancée petitioners are about five months and this is only for the petition part of the process. The National Visa Center and Embassy part may take several more months. In some cases the fiancé visa process alone may take over a year.
Step 5: Begin processing at the National Visa Center. After your petition is approved by the USCIS, your case will be transferred to the National Visa Center. They will work with the US. Consulate in your fiancé’s country to coordinate the rest of the process. Each U.S. Consulate has their own way of doing things but generally require the same steps. The first step is to complete a visa application online. It is called the DS160 and asks general questions about personal, work, U.S. immigration and criminal history.
Step 6: Pay Visa Fees at Local Bank Your fiancé will then be directed to pay fees at a local bank which has a contract with the U.S. Consulate to accept visa fees. Currently $385.00
Step 7: Obtain a Police Certificate, Medical Exam and Proof of USC Fiancé’s Income. Your fiancé will need to request a police certificate that explains that he has no criminal record or if he does, then he will need to get certified records for any arrests or convictions. Please note they may affect his ability to obtain a visa. He will also need a medical exam done by an Embassy approved doctor. HIV is no longer an inadmissibility factor. Information on how to obtain these documents is provided on the U.S. Consulate websites. You will also need to send your fiancé a form I-134 Affidavit of Support along with your recent tax return and W2s to show that you have the income to sponsor him. In general you should make at least 125% of the poverty guidelines for your house hold size. If you are single with no children that should be about $20,300/ year or more.
Step 8: Your fiancé will attend an Interview at the U.S. Consulate. Eventually your fiancé will need to attend an interview at the U.S. Consulate where the consular officer will ask about your relationship. If your fiancé is closeted and shy about discussing his same-sex relationship, he may need some practice before hand. This is not the time to be discreet. General questions are about how the two of you met, how long you’ve been dating, when you plan to marry and what kind of evidence have you brought to support your case.
Step 9: If the fiancé visa is approved your fiancé can enter the U.S., get married within 90 days and file for adjustment of status. Arriving in the U.S. is not the end of the process. You must marry your fiancé in a state that allows for same-sex marriage, which hopefully will be all of America by the time your fiancé arrives. Once you marry he must start the adjustment of status process so that they can receive lawful permanent residence (green card). This is a whole other process requiring at least $1225 in government fees, dozens of pages of forms and another approximately 10 months before your marriage interview!