Immigration Corner: Turning Internet love into marriage
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My girlfriend and I have been talking for three months now. We met over the Internet and we video-chat and text every day. She has never been to Jamaica but wants to file for a fiance visa for me. She is 35 and I am 24. We love each other very much. Can it work?
While you and your girlfriend may think you are in love and want to get married, I would caution you to take certain steps before you get that far. There are too many instances of persons who come to America without really getting to know their fiance or their spouse and end up being completely incompatible and on the streets with nowhere to go when the relationship falls apart.
A United States (US) citizen can file for a fiance visa for a loved one who is outside the US. Once you prove your love for each other and your intention to marry, the US Department of Homeland Security may approve your fiancÈ's petition. It would be then up to the US embassy in Jamaica to actually grant you the visa to travel to the US.
Once in the States, you have 90 days to marry your fiancÈe and to change your status to a green card holder.
There are lots of issues that come with a fiance visa. If you are approved and travel to the US, you MUST marry the person who filed the fiance visa for you within 90 days, or you MUST leave the US within those 90 days. You CANNOT change your status (i.e., remain in the States and get your papers) through any other sponsor.
It is strongly advised that your girlfriend make a couple of trips to Jamaica for you to get to know each other before you embark upon a fiance visa and road to marriage. The fiance visa process has two steps. Your US fiance would file with Homeland Security and she would need to show at this point that she has met you - unless it would be against her religion or tradition that a couple not meet each other - and all proof of communication and the relationship. If that process is approved, your file would be sent to the US embassy in Kingston for further processing. You must be otherwise admissible to the US to be considered for the visa by the embassy.
Continue to document your relationship and your in-person meetings and apply for the fiance visa after a couple of visits.
- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org