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  1. #1

    Default Immigration for a Spouse Married Shortly After Graduation


    I am a US citizen and my fiancee is Ecuadorian and we are in a fairly complex situation. We have been together for 4 and a half year now and we know we want to spend the rest of our lives together and are planning to get married. Her parents approve of our marriage but say she has to graduate college first, which she will do with a double major in Accounting and Business Administration on May 23, 2105. She will return to Ecuador on June 1st before her F1 visa expires unless she gets an internship/job with Optional practical training (more later) that would allow her to work and stay here longer. I was born in the US and am a citizen and I will also be graduating with my PhD in October-December 2015. We are both applying to jobs in the US and Germany, and if we both can get jobs we would most likely move to Germany for at least a few years. Now here are some of my questions and scenarios I have in my mind and I would like some advice as to which route would be best to follow:

    1. I read about adjustment of status visas and it appears we are too late to apply since her visa expires at the beginning of June 2015, so we would have to get the K1 visa instead. However, both of these cost $2,000 from what I read and I am not even sure if she would be able to get a job and make back that amount of money if we plan to leave for Germany in December. Since her parents want to wait until after she graduates to allow us to marry, we would need to get married after she graduates on May 23 and before her F1 visa expires on June 1, which is a tiny window of time. If we don't get married before she goes back, how long would it take for her to be able to come back to the US and live and work with me? If we get married within this time window, will she be able to stay and continue looking for work even after her F1 visa expires? If we get married through this route and then move to Germany, will her green card still be vaild if we decide to move back to the US in about 3 years?

    2. She can ideally get a job or internship with her Optional Practical Training which can last up to 12 months that would allow her to work in the US legally after completing a Bachelor's Degree program. However, it seems that many companies ask questions in their applications that seem like she will be ruled out just due to this unique status. If we do this, we would most likely get legally married in US before going to Germany (but not applying for the green card) or getting married in Ecuador and moving to Germany in January 2016. Do you know anything about her eligibility to work in Germany if we are married and I have a job? If she cannot get a job with OPT, can she remain in the US looking for work while we get married and apply for the green card?

    We would like to stay together throughout the rest of 2015 and ideally have her working in the US and us living together. No matter what I know I want to be with her forever and we are worried that we might have to separate after her graduation if her OPT falls through. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Immigration for a Spouse Married Shortly After Graduation

    You honestly need to be consulting with an immigration attorney. If you were definitely remaining in the US the situation would be less complicated. However, with your intent to spend a few years in Germany the situation gets infinitely more complicated.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Immigration for a Spouse Married Shortly After Graduation

    Yes, I understand. We have already emailed 4 different local attorneys with specialties in immigration law and are awaiting a response. We would choose to stay in the US over Germany if this would be too much of a problem because it is more important to be together to both of us. If you can give any advice on my below questions with this assumption it would be tremendously helpful:

    I was slightly incorrect above; her graduation is on May 23, her visa expires on May 25 and her return flight is on May 31. So she is already overstaying her visa by 6 days, will this be a problem? We are submitting the OPT application this week to USCIS, but it says it takes 2-3 months for processing; if we do not receive these documents before her visa expires (May 25) would it be better for her to stay here to keep looking for work or go back to Ecuador on her scheduled flight? Would she be penalized for overstaying her visa or would she be alright since she would be continuing her F1 status using OPT? We read that she has 90 unemployment days to keep looking after issuance of OPT but also that if she leaves and tries to come back without a job offer letter that she might not be granted her visa extension. Is it better to try to get her visa extended now (before she has the OPT EAD issued, if this is even possible), to overstay her visa waiting for the OPT and hopefully find a job, or to return to Ecuador on her scheduled flight whether or not her OPT is approved by then?

    If we decide to get married at the end of May and submit the Adjustment of Status forms, would it be better for her to overstay her visa or return to Ecuador? Could she be penalized for overstaying if we are legally married and have the paperwork mailed before her F1 visa expires? If it's better for her to return, then should we use the K1 visa instead?

    Thanks for any answers you can give.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Immigration for a Spouse Married Shortly After Graduation

    Visa is different from authorized stay. A student on F-1 typically has 60 days following graduation to leave the country. She really needs to go and speak to the DSO at the international student office at her university to clarify the dates especially since she is applying for OPT.

    Also, marriage to a US citizen forgives and overstay and a person does not incur a ban until an overstay of over 180 days.

    The USCIS website has all the information you need about filing for a green card after marriage; if you do not understand it, consult an immigration attorney.

    Once she has a green card, she can file for a reentry permit which authorizes up to a 2 year absence while preserving residency which would permit you to live n Germany for a period of time.

    PLEASE SEE AN ATTORNEY for more detailed explanations.

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