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Marry an African girl, get a marriage visa to live in EU

If you marry abroad, your spouse has to apply for admission to the U.S. under an entirely different set of rules which are more restrictive for her, in that these are rarely issued, and definitely more restrictive for her children than if she comes here under a K-1 Fiancée visa.

Current rules provide for your fiancée to be given a 45 day K-1 visa and her unmarried children under age 21, a 45 day K-2 visa. The two of you must then marry in the U.S. within the 45 days or she and her children will be deported. If you marry her abroad there is a chance that she and/or her children will never be allowed into the U.S. except on temporary tourist visas.

The First Step

The first step in the process is finding someone with whom you fall in love and want to marry. If this is done via the Internet, which is how I met my wife, you first have to make contact and start a relationship. Unless you live near our northern or southern border and find someone a short distance away on the other side of the border, the relationship is going to be by Internet, telephone and snail mail. However, the rules say that, before you can bring a woman into the U.S. on a K-1 visa, you must provide documentation that you have visited her in person outside the U.S. Photos, airline receipts, hotel receipts, etc. can serve as proof - the more the better. Unless you can afford to be flying off to visit foreign women every few weeks, it is best to develop the relationship as far as you can before going for the visit. In addition to email (and Internet access may be expensive for your fiancée depending upon where she lives), overseas telephone rates for calls from the U.S. to most of the world are very reasonable (a one hour call to Russia cost me less than dinner for two at McDonald's) making this a great way to build the relationship. However, the reverse is not true and calls from abroad to the U.S. are not only absolutely more expensive but, compared to incomes in many countries, are prohibitive for the local population. Snail mail and packages are slow but also a good way to build the relationship.

At this point it is a good idea to go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service website and begin familiarizing yourself with it. The first thing you will see are numerous public relations pieces touting the work of the USCIS - just ignore these and navigate to the pages with information that you need. Work through the site to find and begin bookmarking the the pages pertaining to K-1 and K-2 visas, as well as rules and regulations, down loadable forms etc. On the one hand the amount of useful information on the site has increased considerably since I had to use it, but the amount of useless PR pieces have also increased and the navigation and indexing have not improved. You might find the www.del.icio.us social bookmarking site to be very helpful here as you can bookmark as well as write descriptive notes and apply multiple tags to the various pages for later use. Your fiancée can also join the site and you can share the links and tags with her on this site. Even if you plan to use a lawyer, I suggest that you study this site very carefully as well as search and bookmark other sites on the Internet - don't necessarily believe what these these other sites say, but they can be a good sources for questions to ask your lawyer or immigration officer. If you have a lawyer be sure to constantly ask "Why?" "Why?" "Why?" until you understand exactly what is going on. The same is true when dealing with immigration personnel, keep asking "Why?" until you understand the process. You will also find that employees at the USCIS are not only frequently ignorant of the laws they are supposed to enforce but, when you complain to your Congressman, as I did, you will be told that the law is too complicated to expect them to give accurate information. However, if you do follow advice from an immigration employee or lawyer and it is wrong, that is your tough luck.

When you are ready, schedule a trip to meet your fiancée By this time, if you have had open and honest communication, you should know her fairly well and there should be no big surprises at the other end. Do take time to study up on her country and customs but be prepared to be flexible. Books and the Internet tell you the customs in general, but people are different. Also, thanks to modern communication, many cultural differences are disappearing. Finally, understand that she is probably studying up on the U.S. and our customs as she is not only preparing for your visit but is also planning on moving here to live with you. You may find that she is more Americanized than you expected. This is your chance, and may be your only chance, to interact in person with her and decide if the relationship is go or no go. Again, be sure to take pictures and save receipts to share with your Uncle Sam.

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