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First comes love… then comes a visa

With the booming online dating industry and the relative ease of traveling abroad, more and more Americans are finding themselves facing a bewildering problem – how can their loved one join them in

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With the booming online dating industry and the relative ease of traveling abroad, more and more Americans are finding themselves facing a bewildering problem – how can their loved one join them in the US quickly and easily?

Gone are the days of simply showing up at a US Embassy with a loved one and hopping on a plane the next day. The process for bringing a fiancé(e) or spouse to the US has become an overwhelming journey one shouldn’t do alone.

A complex petition package must be filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which then passes through the National Visa Center, and ends with an interview of the foreigner at a US Embassy abroad. Individuals find themselves overwhelmed with the number of forms, the amount of evidence, and the procedures involved in this seemingly simple task of bringing their loved one to the States.

The US government allows two main courses for bringing a partner to the States; the K1 Fiancé(e) Visa and the CR1 Spousal Visa. Both have their pros and cons and should be researched before starting.

The K1 Fiancé(e) visa takes approximately 4 to 8 months from the time of filing (if everything goes right) and costs around US$950 in government fees. Once here, the foreign fiancé(e) must file for an Adjustment of Status to receive his or her “green card” (another 3-6+ months waiting time and US$1,070 fee).

The CR1 Spousal visa may take as long as 12 months or as little as 6-8 months (if everything goes well) and costs approximately US$1,200 in government fees. Once in the US, the foreign spouse does not need to file for the “green card,” saving some hassle and money.

Both routes are long and costly, and a simple mistake can waste money and more importantly, time. In the past, immigration lawyers offered the only professional help in navigating the visa system, at a very high cost of upwards of thousands of dollars.

Now there are low-cost and expert assistance available from companies and consultants specializing in visa document preparation. Online companies, such as Easy Fiancé/Marriage Visa ( www.easyfiancevisa.com or www.easymarriagevisa.com ) have great reputations for simplifying the process and providing experienced support without the high cost of attorneys.

Since document preparers cannot offer legal advice, some complex cases, such as individuals with criminal records or foreigners with negative immigration histories, still need to consult with a lawyer. The American Immigration Lawyers’ Association ( www.aila.org ) has a locator to find a lawyer who specializes in immigration matters.

Trying to navigate the bureaucracy of immigration can be exasperating and nearly impossible if done so alone. For individuals who find themselves in the wonderful dilemma of falling in love with a foreigner, there is help available. Take the proper steps to ensure your fiancé or spouse will be with you in the USA.

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