Immigration & Marriage


#1

This deals more with Immigration than Marriage, but if anyone has advice I’m all ears.

My Fiancee is from Canada and I from U.S. We got engaged Jan. 30th and planned to be married in Manitoba Aug. 28th. I talked to the US boarder very unhelpful, but referred me to the web site www.USCIS.gov. Confusing site, but made an appointment in the Twin Cities. Again they are very unhelpful not allowed to give advice and seemed to not understand the laws. They referred me to an immigration lawyer. The lawyer was only so much help.

In short once she applies for a visa or we get legally married she can not enter the US or if she is in the US she can not leave and reenter until she has her visa. Basically she loses her right to freely cross the boarder.

Between her visits here for pre-marriage counseling, remodeling our house, and settling into life on the farm and building our relationship it is important that she be here. Then we have NFP class, a good friends wedding, our social (Manitobian wedding fundraiser), our wedding and a month later her sisters wedding, it is important to be able to travel back to Manitoba.

One friend (she from Winnipeg he from Chicago) got married in Canada and then on her “visit”, (which in a sense is a lie) did her paper work for a Relative Visa (I-130) and a work permit and got them in 5 months. She didn’t leave the US for those 5 months and was lucky that the boarder didn’t refuse her entry which if they really wanted to stick it to them could have put a 5 year ban on her to ever come to the US. Sometimes the boarder can be very reasonable and other times can make things very difficult.

We could have her say to the boarder that she is just coming to visit me her fiancee, while here get married by a justice of the peace, apply for a relative visa (I-130), stay here in the US and wait for it to come and forget about all the things in Canada including her own sister’s wedding. And we set the actual Sacramental wedding latter next Spring.

We might apply for a Fiancee Visa (I-129) which may take up to a year, reschedule our wedding for next spring, we might be able to travel freely, get civilly married in the US once the visa goes through then Sacramental wedding in Canada or full wedding in US.

I don’t know if this could work, but apply for Fiancee Visa, get married Aug. 28 Sacramentally, but not sign legal papers as to keep our fiancee status as far as the Countries are concerned so we can travel freely, and then once the Fiancee Visa comes then get civilly married in the US.

This really all boggles my mind. Any suggestions?


#2

A word from the Immigration Lawyer:

In order to be admitted into the U.S. without a visa, a
Canadian must show that they are a nonimmigrant, coming to the U.S.
temporarily for business or pleasure. As soon as that is not the case,
they may not be admitted without a visa.

If one departs the U.S. while an application for adjustment of status is
pending, and there is no advance parole, the adjustment application will
be denied, and the foreign national may or may not be readmitted into
the U.S. as a nonimmigrant visitor for business or pleasure.


#3

Try your Congress man. With an election coming up they become very solicitous of their voter’s welfare. He should have a local office where you can go in and talk to some one. Second best go to one of your senators, whichever is next up for election.


#4

Fly to mexico. Walk across border. Proceed to final destination in the US.


#5

Talk to your Diocese (or one that is close to the border). They deal with this kind of thing and can give you the right advice.


#6

I don’t know how helpful I can be since my husband and I went through this 12 years ago, pre 9/11. He is British and I am American. We had a friend who was just finishing law school who had interned for an immigration lawyer, who steered us in the right direction as far as forms went. We decided that going with the “Fiance Visa” (don’t remember the official number) would be the way to go since it would allow him to work as soon as he arrived. However, that meant that he came to visit me in February, and he went back to England and lived there until November (with our wedding in December). We were not married in a Catholic church (I was baptized Catholic but raised in a Methodist church), so our situtation was different in that sense.

It was really hard being apart for most of our engagement, but in the long run it worked out for the best because he was completely legal to work as soon as he got here and it was relatively easy to get his permanent resident card. Much easier than it would have been if we’d gone any other route. I don’t know if you’d be able to get the papers completed by August, though. Ours took from February till the end of October to be finalized.

Immigration status was just one of those things that neither of us were willing to fool around with. I had awful fears that we would inadvertenly miss a step somewhere and end up having him deported or something awful!

I can sympathize with how unhelpful the immigration officials can be! I hope you get some answers soon!


#7

My wife and I went through the immigration process a few years ago, so I can relate. While the USCIS website is a good source for the latest forms, it really doesn’t give the best guidance. You might want to try visajourney.com/ Take some time to read through the forums. Lots of good info there. With apologies to any immigration lawyers who are present, unless you have a really complicated case, you can easily do the paperwork yourself. At least that was my experience. The fees are costly enough - I’d hate to add attorney fees to an already expensive process.

Between her visits here for pre-marriage counseling, remodeling our house, and settling into life on the farm and building our relationship it is important that she be here. Then we have NFP class, a good friends wedding, our social (Manitobian wedding fundraiser), our wedding and a month later her sisters wedding, it is important to be able to travel back to Manitoba.

If you listen to only one piece of advice, make it this: Don’t try to cut corners. Follow the rules to the letter. If you find it inconvenient not having her around during your engagement, imagine how it would be if she was caught bending the rules and got herself banned for an extended period of time.

Try your Congress man. With an election coming up they become very solicitous of their voter’s welfare. He should have a local office where you can go in and talk to some one. Second best go to one of your senators, whichever is next up for election.

I’ve heard of cases where members of Congress were able to exert a bit of influence when a case runs into trouble, but that isn’t your situation. Your complaint is that you will be inconvenienced. Your representative isn’t going to help you circumvent the rules.

Good luck with the process. I know it can be frustrating, but accomplishing each step along the way is kind of exciting too. My wife recently became a citizen and voted in her first U.S. election a few months ago. She was psyched.


#8

Ditto on this one! My DH is from Canada and we married almost 4 years ago. Visajourney.com was a lifesaver. We applied for the fiance visa in September of 2005 and he had his interview in Montreal in April 2006. We were married in June 2006. The process takes time and is not meant to be convenient for people. DH and I did our marriage prep by attending Engaged Encounter instead of doing the traditional process in our diocese since he was living in Canada and unable to spend a lot of time down here. We also had a moment of panic that we would have to change our wedding date because of this process. It is a serious matter and not something you want to work around.


#9

Mike,

Don’t know if you are still following this thread, but here is another fantastic source of information:

asawa-spouse.com/forums/

This board is mainly for folks who are immigrating from the Philippines, but there is a forum dealing specifically with the legal aspects of immigration that is even better than Visajourney. The moderator of this forum probably knows more about the process than most immigration attorneys.

Again, good luck.


#10

Thanks for all your advice. Still looking into all the options.


#11

I always assumed that the Canadian/US immigration situation for marriage would be relatively straightforward but having had two friends go through the situation you are in, it's not the case!

The only good news I can add is that they both couples eventually overcame the "red tape" and are now happily married and living in the US (though one of them did eventually have to hire an immigration lawyer due to complications surrounding holidays, etc).

Best wishes! :)


#12

But his assistants may be able to walk you through the process.


#13

I may have stated that badly. I don’t mean that they will escort you through the process, but you might get one who will lay our the steps for you and explain them a bit.


#14

I am a Canadian and married my American wife in America 12 years ago.

I was told by the US border guards that I must get married in the US to simplify the process.

I was also told I could walk into city hall, get a civil marriage and then walk into the INS office and get a stamp on my passport I551 (IIRC) and then apply to work in the States.

We chose to forgo this and got married in a local Catholic Church in the US. About 19 months after our marriage we had our interview and 5 years later I got my greencard.

Now my advice to you is to go to the local Catholic Refugee assistance group and they will help you with the process. They might merely refer you to an immigration attorney but they will advise you on how to do the process correctly. I can validate that if you do something to run afoul of INS you could be deported.

Good luck.


#15

I am Marysann's husband, and a U.S. consular officer with the State Department. I have handled cases like these overseas for many years. Reading your post, I would say the following:
-- The two of you should have no trouble traveling between Canada and the U.S. before your wedding, as long as your future wife's intent each time is to be there just for short visits such as those you describe.
-- The finance visa does not appear to be a viable option for you, since that involves getting married in the U.S., and you plan to get married in Canada.
-- Once your wedding in Canada takes place, you will need to file the I-130 visa petition, to start the process for your wife's immigrant visa, at any of our consulates in Canada. But since immigrant visas are only issued at our consulate in Montreal, you might as well go there for both the petition and the visa.
-- You need to be with your wife when you file the petition, but once that is done, you can leave and she can do the subsequent visa application herself. I don't know what Montreal's immigrant visa wait time is right now, but generally we do spouse visas pretty quickly. We consider them a priority. The U.S. government does not wish to stand in the way of true love!
-- So, the only hitch I can see relative to what you desire is that you will not be able to bring your wife to the U.S. immediately after your wedding abroad. Couples face this all around the world all the time. Unless you choose to remain with her in Montreal, you will be apart for a little while, until she gets her visa, but that's the best that our really quite generous immigration system offers to persons in your situation.
I hope this is helpful.


#16

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