If you recently married a noncitizen in a foreign country and you are returning to the U.S., be sure you enter the U.S. with the proper foreign spouse visa. A “visa” is a document issued by the U.S. government that allows a noncitizen to travel to the U.S. Citizens of some countries who travel to the U.S. only for business or pleasure are not required to get a visa. However, foreign spouses who are entering the U.S. with their newlywed spouses, are required to get a visa before travelling to the U.S.
A client who is a U.S. citizen once travelled overseas to marry his foreign fiancee and returned with her to the U.S. When the border patrol agent at the airport discovered that she was the man’s wife, he denied her entry into the U.S. She was forced to get back on a plane that same day and return to her country. The problem was that she had obtained a tourist visa rather than the proper foreign spouse visa.
There are several ways to avoid this scenario. First, contact an immigration lawyer. Immigration law is complex. Some applications for visas can be done without a lawyer but you have to know what applications to make to the government. For example, do not assume that your newly married foreign spouse can enter the U.S. under a tourist visa (known as a B-1 or B-2 Visa). This visa is only for noncitizens who have no intention of giving up their foreign homes and living in the U.S.
Second, get the proper visa for your foreign spouse. The process to have your spouse become a U.S. citizen takes a long time. The last thing a newlywed couple wants to do after they are married is spend time apart. A K-3 visa is used to bring a foreign spouse to the U.S. while the couple waits for the foreign spouse’s immigration application. Even getting the K-3 visa, however, could take weeks or months so make it a part of your wedding plans to get the proper foreign spouse visa. You will first have to establish your marriage to the government’s satisfaction in order to obtain the K-3 visa.
Third, apply for citizenship for your foreign spouse. The K-3 visa only allows your new spouse to travel to the U.S. He or she will have to apply for citizenship if he or she wishes to remain in the U.S.