If you're attending college in the United States on an F-1 non-immigrant visa and find the person you would like to marry, you have several steps to take to make sure you continue in your legal status and avoid deportation. There are a few things you will need to do before and after the wedding that will make the immigration process much simpler for you.
Get all needed documents.
Because F-1 visas are non-immigrant visas, once you get married you are no longer a non-immigrant. You will have to file for a change of status to declare your intention to immigrate to the United States as a permanent resident. To do this, you need to have several documents. It's better to get these before your wedding because some may require in-person visits to your home country.
After your wedding, you will no longer be able to leave and enter the country on your student visa. You will have to wait until your change of status goes through. So, take the time in a visit home to have valid and updated copies of:
- Your police or criminal record. These often cannot be requested remotely, even by a family member.
- Your birth certificate. Many people don't carry these with them, and the small "card" certificate is no sufficient.
- Photographs. You may need passport-style pictures for your application and photographs of your relationship to prove your commitment.
- Your driver's license or other government IDs, including your passport. If your passport will expire soon, take the time to renew it so it stays valid during the whole immigration process.
Get information from your sponsor.
If you're getting married, your sponsor is usually your spouse-to-be. However, sometimes your partner does not have financial resources necessary to guarantee your care after you've entered the country as a prospective resident. In this case, you will need a secondary financial sponsor. Contact relatives or friends who fully support your union. Sometimes, your partner's parents may have the resources needed to be a sponsor.
Applying for a change of status can be costly. Many forms require fees to file. The largest fee comes with the I-485 form, which currently costs $1140, with an additional fee for fingerprinting, called a biometrics fee. You also must complete a medical clearance with an approved immigration doctor, and the cost for the visit must come out of your own finances.
For more information on changing your status, contact an immigration lawyer near you, like Tesoroni & Leroy.