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When Can My Fiance Start Work

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When can my fiance begin to work? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, and San Diego, California. I'm getting old and I had a very interesting experience the other day. I had an immigration consult with the son, the adult son, of a former colleague of mine. So when I was a brand new baby lawyer, I worked at a great firm in Clayton. And one of the attorneys there has a son now who is thinking about going through the immigration process with a fiance from overseas. And that gave me the opportunity to talk to them about what your options are when you have a spouse overseas, and you want to begin your life in America together. Now, these are always interesting conversations to have when a couple's about to get married when you talk about the immigration consequences. Especially, if as in this case, the US citizen has been living overseas with their foreign national fiance.

And so the interesting thing is, is that there are always competing interests when a fiance and a US citizen are thinking about getting married, because sometimes the number one concern is how do we stay together as much as possible during this process? Other times the person who's from overseas wants to be able to work as long as possible, and to be able to work almost immediately upon arriving in the United States. So there are always these moving pieces, because then you plug in real life concerns like when are we going to have our wedding? Where are we going to have our wedding? Who's going to attend? And how's that going to fit into the timing of everything? So there are often lots of different moving pieces. And I try to get the people that I talked to, like this lovely young couple, to prioritize. What's the most important thing?

Now, in this particular case, the beneficiary is a veterinarian and the veterinarian has a nice practice going overseas. And the question is, well when can they start working if they come to the United States? Now the couple also wanted to be together. So again, it's a perfect example of wanting to be together and wanting to work as much as possible. The veterinarian foreign spouse, wanting to be able to work shortly after arriving in the United States. And when I told them about the things we talked about in yesterday's video about the delays in getting work cards, you're talking about a substantial delay. So here are the three ways that this can go. If the couple gets engaged, then the US citizen can file a fiance petition. If they file a fiance petition, and the person gets approved and comes to the United States, let's say they arrive in the United States after getting their fiance petition approved.

Let's say they arrive on August 1st. And let's say the couple gets married on September 1st. Well then if you file right away, you're going to get your receipt notices back mid September. And you're going to get your biometrics notice anywhere from October to say, December these days. That's how long it's taking. And then actually getting fingerprinted is another month, then that's January. And then you're going to wait for the work card four or five months. So that's almost a year in the United States without the ability to work. That can be a real hardship for people. And so that means that the work card doesn't come for eight or nine months after you arrive. That's obviously a lot of lost income.

The other option would be for the couple to get married back in the home country and then do a spouse petition with consular processing. That's going to take a little bit longer and the couple might be apart if the US citizen needs to be in the United States. But when the foreign national comes to the United States, they work with their green card, which would give them the work authorization. Should come, a few short weeks or a month after that. So that gives you the option of working as much as you can before you come and then working as early as possible when you get here.

Then the third option with this particular person is they were eligible for visa waiver, and other people sometimes have visas. They've been in the United States many times. If they decided to get married on a trip to the United States, and they applied for adjustment, you can't get married those first 60 days. Because that would demonstrate immigrant intent and that violation of your visa waiver. But if you decided, while you were in the United States to get married, you didn't have immigrant intent when you came. But if you got married in the United States after those 60 days, and then you applied for a green card based on marriage, again, you're looking at that seven, eight, nine months until you get the work card. So with the two months that you have to wait to get married, and then the eight or nine months it takes to get the work card, that's another year without being able to work.

So these are all the moving slots and we have these conversations with newlywed couples or couples about to get married all the time. And so, hope this gave you a little bit of clarity of what you need to be thinking about when you're thinking about when your fiance can begin to work. So if you have questions about this, give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us info at Of course, we have our Facebook group called Immigrant Home. We'd love it if you'd join us there. And if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, you get updates whenever we make videos like this one. Don't forget most Tuesdays and Thursdays I'll be going live in our Facebook group and on the YouTube channel answering as many of your immigration questions as I can in just 60 minutes. Thanks a lot. And we'll see you next time.

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