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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, sorry if this turns out to be somewhat of a longish post, but it's important stuff, so I want to make sure I don't miss anything!

I am 21 years old (born and raised in the States) and have been living in Melbourne, Australia since 2006 on a student visa. In this time, I met a really awesome guy, and we're now engaged and have lived together for nearly a year. My visa expires in September of next year/2009. My staying here would cost way too much, and is a lot more complicated and slower, so we have decided to move to the States and try to bring him over on a fiance visa.

My first question regards filing the initial I-129F and G-325A forms. I have read conflicting information about this everywhere, so I am looking for some definitive answers... Some sites, including the consular site here in Melbourne, state that, since I am here, I cannot file for him to go to the States, but many, many others have said this isn't true, including one American government visa site which stated I should just send to one of the major hubs in either California or New Jersey, depending on which state I previously lived in. Can anyone confirm any of this for me?

The next thing is when should I start filing? I know the general consensus is "do it as soon as possible," but it's really not that simple with us. I have to stay until mid-August 2009 to finish my bachelor's degree, so this means filing too early can result in our getting the visa too soon and having it expire before we go over in very early September (I can't remember exactly, but the visa is only good for about four or six months outside of the States) or getting the visa too late, which splits us apart for a time and make things even wackier. I have been told by some that for normal and well-documented circumstances, the whole process usually takes six or seven months, and so I am considering filing the two initial forms in December or January, accordingly. Any advice regarding this?

The final and major thing is sponsorship. I cannot sponsor my fiance to the States, as I am going to be flat out broke by the time I am finished with university. (Heck, he's sort of supporting my broke butt when we first move!) My immediate family cannot sponsor us for various reasons, either. He has a first cousin in Pennsylvania who has lived there for, I believe, nearly 20-30 years and is a U.S. citizen now. Could she sponsor him? If not, what, if any, other options do we have?

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate any and all help we receive! The fiance visa for the States is pretty straightforward, but it is a little weedy here and there, as well as confusing. It's good to know some people have been through the misery with us! :p
 

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I'll come to your questions shortly.....but before I start, is there any special reason you cannot marry in OZ?
 

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I'll come to your questions shortly.....but before I start, is there any special reason you cannot marry in OZ?
I have been told by numerous people that bringing him to the States, after marriage, is much more time consuming. Apparently the fiance visa, i.e., getting married in the States, is much easier.

Also, I'd have to look into it, but I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to do that here, if it would change my status and a lot of other stuff.
 

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I have been told by numerous people that bringing him to the States, after marriage, is much more time consuming. Apparently the fiance visa, i.e., getting married in the States, is much easier.

Also, I'd have to look into it, but I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to do that here, if it would change my status and a lot of other stuff.
I'd say the converse was true: bringing him here as your husband would be much easier as when he lands, your paperwork is all done until your second anniversary of arrival, and he hits the ground with permanent residency which equals permission to live and work here. Conversely, with a fiancée K1 visa, you would have to adjust status after the marriage and permission to work is complicated with the application of additional documents.

It'll possibly take a couple of months more than a K1, but you would seem to have time to burn.

I have no idea whether it will affect your student status in OZ, though, or whether their bureaucracy will complicate matters.
 

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I'd say the converse was true: bringing him here as your husband would be much easier as when he lands, your paperwork is all done until your second anniversary of arrival, and he hits the ground with permanent residency which equals permission to live and work here. Conversely, with a fiancée K1 visa, you would have to adjust status after the marriage and permission to work is complicated with the application of additional documents.

It'll possibly take a couple of months more than a K1, but you would seem to have time to burn.

I have no idea whether it will affect your student status in OZ, though, or whether their bureaucracy will complicate matters.
Hmm, all right. Maybe something to look into, then. Would we still need to find a sponsor for him to come over, if he is already my husband?
 

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The next thing is when should I start filing? I know the general consensus is "do it as soon as possible," but it's really not that simple with us. I have to stay until mid-August 2009 to finish my bachelor's degree, so this means filing too early can result in our getting the visa too soon and having it expire before we go over in very early September (I can't remember exactly, but the visa is only good for about four or six months outside of the States) or getting the visa too late, which splits us apart for a time and make things even wackier. I have been told by some that for normal and well-documented circumstances, the whole process usually takes six or seven months, and so I am considering filing the two initial forms in December or January, accordingly. Any advice regarding this?
Regardless of the visa you eventually apply for, every time the consulate says jump, you have one year to give them what they want otherwise they'll assume you've abandoned your application. Armed with this, the knowledge that, once issued, the visa must be used within 6 months, and recent timelines for your consulate that you'll find with a web search......you should be able to pretty accurately get the timing right. This is, of course, dependent on not having any skeletons in the cupboard and the proverbial not happening.

The final and major thing is sponsorship. I cannot sponsor my fiance to the States, as I am going to be flat out broke by the time I am finished with university. (Heck, he's sort of supporting my broke butt when we first move!) My immediate family cannot sponsor us for various reasons, either. He has a first cousin in Pennsylvania who has lived there for, I believe, nearly 20-30 years and is a U.S. citizen now. Could she sponsor him? If not, what, if any, other options do we have?
You have no choice to be the primary sponsor of your fiancée or spouse, regardless of your income. However, you can make up the shortfall in your income with either capital or a co-sponsor. The starting calculation is the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You need 125% of the income level here for your family size, or you can substitute capital at 3x that figure. If you don't make this, any US citizen or permanent resident can co-sponsor you. However, note that the co-sponsor must add you two to his or her household size to clear the threshold.
 

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Hmm, all right. Maybe something to look into, then. Would we still need to find a sponsor for him to come over, if he is already my husband?
Let us know when you've checked that it doesn't affect your OZ status. You'll still need the sponsor, I'm afraid, on the same terms as my post above. If you want to start investigating the right visa for being married, it'll be the CR1 immigrant visa. Ignore the K3 non-immigrant visa -- it's a pointless waste of space.
 

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I too have heard over and over that once you marry outside the US it takes a couple of years to get your spouse into the country. Most of the people who have told me this are bringing in a spouse from a developing country, though.

From what I"ve heard, the consulate assumes it's a fake marriage entered into for purposes of providing the spouse eventual permanent residency.

And the Australian government is likely to assume you are marrying so you can stay in OZ.

Ugh. Given processing times and things that can go wrong, it doesn't seem that many people pull this off without a separation.
 

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I too have heard over and over that once you marry outside the US it takes a couple of years to get your spouse into the country. Most of the people who have told me this are bringing in a spouse from a developing country, though.

From what I"ve heard, the consulate assumes it's a fake marriage entered into for purposes of providing the spouse eventual permanent residency.

And the Australian government is likely to assume you are marrying so you can stay in OZ.

Ugh. Given processing times and things that can go wrong, it doesn't seem that many people pull this off without a separation.
I think you're taking about a marriage in a second or third world country here, Synthia. I don't follow the Oz timelines, but a K1 out of London is going to take around 9 months, and an immigrant CR1 a month or two longer if you file the initial petition in the US or possibly a month or so shorter if the consulate allows you to file directly with them. I can't think Australia is that different.

At consulates where fraud is very high, e.g. Moscow or Lagos, the petitions can indeed take much, much longer. But that's not an issue for the OP.

BTW, when I'm president, all US government departments will have a maximum of 30 days to approve or deny an immigration benefit. Until that day, though, we'll all have to put up with the usual sloppy service.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the advice and information, you two. We really aren't sure what to do. I tried looking into what marrying here would do to my status as a student, but I found absolutely nothing. That concerns me, as I don't want to find out we've screwed up after the fact.

It looks like we'll be looking into getting an immigration lawyer. We were hoping it wouldn't come to that, but considering our somewhat special situation, it may be the best way to go about stuff.

So that brings me to this. Does anyone know of a good immigration lawyer for going to the U.S.? Preferably one that doesn't totally rape the wallet...
 

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Thanks for all the advice and information, you two. We really aren't sure what to do. I tried looking into what marrying here would do to my status as a student, but I found absolutely nothing. That concerns me, as I don't want to find out we've screwed up after the fact.

It looks like we'll be looking into getting an immigration lawyer. We were hoping it wouldn't come to that, but considering our somewhat special situation, it may be the best way to go about stuff.

So that brings me to this. Does anyone know of a good immigration lawyer for going to the U.S.? Preferably one that doesn't totally rape the wallet...
I haven't see anything yet that would suggest you need an attorney. I usually only point people towards an attorney when there are skeletons in the closet (arrest record, previous visa infringements, etc) or it is obvious from the dialog that they simply do not understand or wish to understand the terrible system.

Also, a US immigration attorney is unlikely to be able to answer your questions about your status in Oz.

However, you should be able to get an initial consultation to put you on the right track for minimal cost, i.e. to help you with the initial decision of which way to go. If you then let them do everything, though, it will add up to thousands of dollars.

AILA's Immigration Lawyer Search

Be wary of lawyer who are pushing you down the K1 or K3 routes over the CR1 one simply because these require more paperwork, and more paperwork equals more fees. There may be genuine reasons for pushing that way, but this should not be one of them!
 

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I too have heard over and over that once you marry outside the US it takes a couple of years to get your spouse into the country. Most of the people who have told me this are bringing in a spouse from a developing country, though.
fatbrit - The OP said she had been told that it would be more difficult if they got married first. I assumed she had been told that in Australia. What I wanted to tell her was that I had heard the same story, but usually from people who were coming from developing countries. In other words, maybe it isn't applicable to her.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
We aren't sure what to do at this point, so we'll probably go to a consultation with a lawyer. We can fill out the paperwork ourselves, but we really need the legal advice, I think! I'll try to remember to keep up this post, in case anyone else finds themselves in a similar pickle to us!
 
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