Could any of my esteemed fellow Dopers give me a quick overview of what the process is for a foreign national to gain US citizenship through marriage to a US citizen? Note: I am not looking for comprehensive legal advice, just a summary of what is involved and the time frame one might expect.
None. There’s no difference in coming here legally via any other means. I have an imported wife, and other than getting her here with a slight advantage, the citizenship process is identical, should she choose to become a citizen.
I phrased my original question incorrectly. What I meant to inquire about was gaining resident alien (green card) status, rather than citizenship.
You marry her, or him if you would like to upset a lot of people, and go to the Embassy. You apply for a Spouse Visa, they have a basket of paperwork for you. Then you do a series of individual interviews and some pair interviews. They she gets the visa.
We’re currently in the midst of this process (again).
My husband is Australian. We live in Australia. We put in his initial paperwork at the American consulate a few weeks ago (which consisted of biographical information on both of us). We were required to do that in person. Our application to apply for a visa was accepted.
We now have to gather paperwork which consists of wedding certificate, birth certificates, a bunch of passport-like pictures, medical examination for him, police report for him, and an affidavit of support. That basically says that I can support our household at U.S. poverty level should he become unemployed. They look at assets based in the U.S. and my income level. A sponsor needs to be domiciled in the U.S. Obviously, I’m not (plus, I’m a stay at home mother, so I don’t have an income, only assets), so I’m his main sponsor and my parents are joint sponsoring him. They have also filled out an affidavit of support and are submitting their tax returns to prove their income.
Once we gather all our paperwork, we notify the consulate and they schedule an interview. They have said that the interviews are being scheduled 4-6 weeks out at this point. There’s one interview and they either give you the visa, send you home to gather more info, or reject you. I have no idea how long it takes after the interview to actually receive the visa, but from what I can tell from the paperwork I have, it’s just a matter of having them put it into my husband’s passport, so I don’t think very long.
We have also done this whole process from within the U.S., but didn’t complete it because we moved (husband’s father was very sick, so we had to come to Australia). From within the U.S., the process was much more of a pain in the ass. I won’t go into details, since we initially submitted his application in 1999, had our first interview scheduled a week after 9/11, weathered the Homeland Security takeover and finally canceled our application five years after submission. I’m pretty sure the process we had to undertake is obsolete now.
I have no idea whether our experience in Australia (which has been pretty easy and painless so far) could be applied to any other country. I don’t know if the visa requirements are different when you’re immigrating from somewhere else.
Why is a medical examination required?
Besides a general physical, they make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, do a chest x-ray to make sure you don’t have TB, and do an AIDS test. The instructions for the medical exam say that if you test positive for HIV, your visa application will be rejected. I was required to do a similar exam when I applied for my visa to come to Australia.
I forgot to mention in my previous post that you can apply for a greencard before you get married, but I’m not really familiar with that whole process. It’s called a K-1 (fiance) visa. Here’s a website that has information about immigrating to the U.S.: http://canberra.usembassy.gov/consular/immigrant.html
Probably to ensure he isn’t carrying any communicable diseases. Not so much of a problem in Australia, but a concern in other countries where people might be carrying TB and other such diseases.
The easiest way is through a K-1 (fiance(e)) visa, but you have to do it before you get married. The process is much shorter and less potentially troublesome than getting a spouse visa. Once the alien fiance(e) arrives in the United States, you have to be married within 90 days. Then you file a change of status application and it takes another 1-2 years to get a “provisional” green card and another one year after that to get a “permanent” green card.
Worth noting that the medical exam is required even if you’re already in the US.
I’ve been living here almost six years now, and if i have any communicable diseases chances are good that i actually caught them here in the US. But i still need a medical for my residency application.