Should I Marry Before or After I Apply for My EB-5 Visa?

The timelines for preparing an EB-5 investment visa requires a lot of thought and planning for the petition itself. As it happens, life events also can change the timelines of planning for an EB-5 visa. In our case study today, we had a reader pose this question:

I’m currently researching the EB-5 entrepreneur visa and am interested in the EB-program. I plan on marrying my fiancée in the near future but I’m wondering if I should marry her before I apply for the EB-5 visa or after I am approved for the EB-5 visa and am in the process of applying for my green card. Obviously, I would like my future wife to be able to get a green card as well but not sure how the timing of when I file my EB-5 visa might impact how long she waits to get a green card.  Your assistance is much appreciated.

-Wondering Fiancé

In this case study, it’s a good thing that Wondering Fiancé did a bit of research and asked about his situation.  His primary concern is that the current wait times for spouses of green card holders is especially long. He’s correct to be concerned.

The way U.S. immigration laws are currently structured, a green card holder interested in sponsoring his/her spouse for a green card must first file a petition for an immediate relative (Form I-130) and then wait for the petition to be approved by USCIS.  After the petition is approved, the spouse can then apply for his/her green card but may wait for years before the application is even reviewed, due to current visa backlogs.  What’s worse is that nationals from China, India, the Philippines or Mexico may have to wait even longer according to the visa bulletins that the Department of State issues every month.

Many have complained that forcing immediate relatives (i.e.: spouses and children) of green card holders to wait years to be reunited with their family in the U.S. makes no sense when it comes to family unity.  The good news is that last year, U.S. Senators passed a bill, S.744, that would eliminate this long wait time and treat spouses and children of green card holders the same as spouses and children of U.S. citizens (meaning no waiting time).  Unfortunately, the bill has languished in the House of Representatives with no advancement.  Until Congress decides to finally pass a law to change our broken immigration system, immediate relatives of green card holders must endure the long wait before they can be reunited with the family.

If Wondering Fiancé married his fiancée after his EB-5 visa was approved and after he had already applied for and was approved for his green card, then his new wife would be waiting quite a long time (current wait times as of this article are approximately one year four months under the F2A preference category).

If Wondering Fiancé married his fiancée before he applied for his green card, and preferably before he applied for his EB-5 visa petition, he would be able to include her as his spouse on his green card application. That way, she would only be waiting the same amount of time he would be to get their green cards together.