Your visa application begins with filling out Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance, and conducting a criminal background check on both of you. This typically costs around $2,000 to $4,000, with additional $500 to $1,000 for each dependent they want to bring with them to the US.
- For the US citizen: Your immigration lawyer will need to evaluate your past criminal conduct. If you’ve been arrested in the past, you’ll need to get a background check run from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). If there are any serious crimes found, you may need to reopen those crimes and try to change the outcome through Post Conviction Relief (PCR). A motion for PCR can be expensive, as the cost depends on the conviction.
- For the foreign citizen fiance: You’ll also need to examine your fiance’s criminal record. If your immigrant fiancé has prior misrepresentations, they may need a waiver, which typically costs between $3,000 to $6,000. If they were charged with any crimes, then they’d need to defend obtaining a green card later on. The cost will vary depending on their charges.
Once you’ve completed the petition form and settled any issues regarding you and your partner’s background checks, you’ll have to go through the Department of State by filing Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) and Form I-134 Affidavit of Support. This step will cost between $2,000 to $4,000.
- If you earn enough: If the affidavit successfully proves your ability to support your fiance, they’ll need to be interviewed at the US consulate or embassy closest to them. Once approved, they’ll have 120 days to enter the US.
- If you don’t earn enough: If you still want to go through the visa application, you’ll need to either find a way to earn more (such as by working longer hours or getting a higher-paying job) or get a joint sponsor. Including a joint sponsor will cost between $500 to $1,000, depending on the complexity of your case.
- If you owe back taxes: You may want to pay off back taxes, or enter into a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and stay current throughout the visa application process. An accountant can help you with this issue.
- If you owe child support: Similarly, you may want to pay it off or enter into a payment plan to become current. If you need to modify your child support order through court, that could cost around $3,500-$7,500 depending on the circumstances.
Green Card Application
After your partner enters the US and the two of you get married, you can then apply for your spouse’s green card using Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence. This is the step where your partner goes from fiancé visa to lawful permanent resident. Note that this should be filed within 90 days of their entry to the US. If they brought any dependents under 21 years of age, you’ll have to file Form I-485 for each one as an immediate relative, as well as pay for the government filing fee for each one.
The last step for getting an adjustment of status for your immigrant spouse is to attend the green card interview at USCIS offices. The cost is typically $1,500 to attend the interview with you. If you are fortunate, the officer can approve your petition the same day. If not, they have 120 days to decide.
The expenses described above considers almost every option. It’s not common to have to file waivers or defend immigrants on the green card stage since they have been in the US for only a short time, but knowing the price helps you plan your expenses for immigration process. The entire process lasts for 16 to 24 months, and costs a total of $6,000-$9,000 in legal fees.
If you’re going to file a petition for a fiance visa to get your engaged partner into the US and get married, make sure you’re doing it the right way. Having an immigration attorney with you throughout the proceeding to provide legal assistance will make your immigration journey much smoother. Call us today at Andres Mejer Law to get quality and affordable legal assistance from our experienced immigration attorneys.