Love is a powerful force that makes people do incredible things. Truth is, when most of us fall in love we don’t care where the person is from or the implications someone’s nationality could have on the relationship.
When two people from different countries come together and choose to live in The United States, it is necessary to deal with immigration statuses. Especially is you are a U.S. citizen dating a foreigner. Though globalization appears to have made the world smaller, legal requirements are strict as ever. This brings into question how do you get your boyfriend or girlfriend a visa to the U.S.?
In short, you cannot sponsor a boyfriend or girlfriend. Your partner should be your legal spouse or your fiancé. As a general rule you will have to complete a I-130 Form (Petition for Alien Relative). This document establishes the relationship between you and your partner.
There are different scenarios and options to be considered. For instance, the reason you want to bring your unmarried partner to the U.S. is simply to enjoy a holiday together and get to know the family. On the other hand, you might want to settle down or even get married. Maybe you want to bring your foreign partner to give birth in the USA. Whatever your reason, knowing the available options before travel is crucial.
We’re going to break down the options available for those who need a visa to the U.S. for their partner.
As a U.S. citizen married to a foreign spouse there are two ways to bring them to the United States to live.
If you are not married yet, there’s the possibility to bring your fiance(é) to the United States to marry and live here. In this case you must apply with a nonimmigrant visa for a fiancé(e) visa (K-1) and an I-129F fiance(é) petition is compulsory. An option for a few people is to obtain a Las Vegas marriage license as it is legal and quick too.
It is hard to predict an exact time frame but generally the average time to get the fiancé visa is about six months. Once in the U.S., another three to six months to process the Green Card.
If you are a U.S. citizen and your spouse is an immigrant living overseas you must complete the Form I-130 visa petition or known as Petition for Alien Relative. The process can take between one to six months. Afterwards, you must file for an immigrant visa and another six months or more can pass.
There are other scenarios besides the one listed above, but on average, the process to sponsor your fiancé or spouse to the U.S. can take between six months to a year. The waiting time is on a case by case basis, and it will depend on several factors outside your control.
The department of Homeland Security does not offer an option for those who want to sponsor their girlfriend or boyfriend. You would have to apply for the fiance visa instead.
Otherwise your boyfriend or girlfriend should find out a different route to enter the United States as an immigrant. The length of the process will vary according to each individual’s situation.
If your plan is to come to the United States for a short period of time your partner should apply for a tourist visa. However, if he or she is from one of the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program, they should simply enroll with the ESTA.