November 26, 2006
THE ILOCOS TIMES - FEATURE

IMMIGRATION GUIDE (8)
Atty. Emmanuel Samonte Tipon

TEN COMMANDMENTS ON HOW TO BRING YOUR SWEETHEART TO AMERICA

Which is faster for a U.S. citizen, go to the Philippines, marry your sweetheart, and file a petition for him or her as an immigrant spouse or without marrying your sweetheart, file a petition for him or her as a nonimmigrant fiancé or fiancée (a French word meaning a man or a woman engaged to be married)?

This question is asked almost daily by callers and by persons who drop in at our law office. I did not realize that there are so many romantic souls in Hawaii who want to get married to aliens, particularly Filipinos.

Generally, and if done properly, the processing of a petition for a fiancé or fiancée visa is much faster because it is a nonimmigrant visa while a petition for a spouse is an immigrant visa, the requirements are not as numerous as a petition for a spouse, and there are fewer people filing a fiancé visa petition compared with a petition for an immigrant spouse.

The following Ten Commandments will help you file a petition for a fiancé or fiancée:

1. Petition for Alien Fiance/Fiancee, USCIS Form I-129F (Revised Edition 05/23/06 or later) must be read, filled up, and signed by U.S. citizen sweetheart.

2. Biographic Information, USCIS Form G325A, must be filled up and signed by U.S. citizen petitioner, and another Form G 325A must be filled up and signed by the alien fiance/fiancée. Petitioner and alien fiancé/fiancée must attach to their Form G-325A their respective passport style color photographs in accordance with specifications in USCIS Form M-378

3. Petitioner's proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a photocopy of Certificate of Live Birth in the U.S., Naturalization Certificate, or Certificate of Citizenship, of petitioner must be attached.

4. Photocopy of U.S. Passport of U.S. citizen petitioner (All pages containing data, including visa stamp showing trip abroad to meet fiancé/fiancee) must be attached

5. Photocopy of Certificate of Live Birth issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO) of alien fiance/fiancee and children (if any) must be attached. If not available, see Instructions to Form I-129F for alternative documents.

6. Proof of both parties' legal capacity to marry, including photocopy of documents showing termination of all prior marriages of both parties (if applicable), such as divorce decree or annulment decree of marriage with, or death certificate of, prior spouse, or if alien has never been married, certificate of No Marriage Record (CENOMAR) issued by NSO must be attached.

7. Written statement of U.S. citizen petitioner and alien fiance/fiancee, stating that both have met in person within two years before the filing of the petition (subject to certain exceptions), indicating the date, place, and circumstances of the meeting; declaring that both are free to marry and that they mutually intend to marry within 90 days of the entry to the U.S. of the alien fiancé/fiancée; describing their courtship, communications, wedding plans; explaining why the wedding will be in the U.S. rather than where the alien resides; and providing other details showing a bona fide fiance/fiancee relationship must be attached. Affidavits of other persons such as the parents, friends, and neighbors of the parties who know these details may also be attached.

8. Documents supporting the matters discussed in Item 7, including pictures preferably in a romantic pose of both parties taken within 2 years before filing the I-129F petition, with a caption showing the date when and place where taken and names of persons in the pictures; arrangements with the person who will solemnize the marriage, contract with a hotel for wedding reception, airline tickets of U.S. citizen to visit alien, telephone bills, letters, printed e-mail communications, greeting cards, tickets to public functions both attended, receipts of mutual expenses, joint bank accounts, picture of engagement ring with receipt for its purchase, and other evidence showing courtship and mutual intent to get married must be attached.

9. Petitioner must comply with the IMBRA requirements relating to whether petitioner used an International Marriage Broker and if so, to provide the name and location of the broker; and if petitioner has ever been convicted of crimes specified in IMBRA, petitioner must submit certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions for every such conviction, or if not so convicted, petitioner should submit a police or court clearance.

10. File the complete package containing Items 1-9, together with the filing fee ($170.00 - check USCIS for current fee), with the proper USCIS Service Center, accompanied with a cover letter listing the forms and documents submitted.

11th Commandment: GET THE BEST LAWYER AND PAY HIM HANDSOMELY.

*NOTE:
When it comes to immigration, winning is not everything; winning is the only thing. The consequences of failure are deportation or denial of a visa for yourself, your relative, or your loved one.
Therefore, it is not sufficient to have a good lawyer; you must have the best lawyer.
ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, BUT NOT ALL LAWYERS!

(Atty. Emmanuel S. Tipon is from Laoag City. He has a Master of Laws degree from Yale Law School and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He served as an Immigration Officer. He is a co-author of the multi-volume "Immigration Law Service," a practice and procedure guide for immigration officers and immigration lawyers. He practices law and writes law books. Offices at 905 Umi St. corner N King, Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96819. Fax (808) 847 1624. Hawaii Tel. (808) 847 1601. California Tel. (510) 825 1045. E-Mail: filamlaw@yahoo.com. Website: www.ImmigrationServicesUSA.com. This article is for general information only and is not intended as legal advice)

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