A US Citizen usually has to fully understand (1) how to get married abroad or domestically and (2) the immigration options/processes. This post builds a guide to the most common topics and questions, BUT be specific for a Malaysian Spouse or Fiance.
First, what are the two Immigrant Visa Options:
- The CR-1/IR-1 Spousal (Immigrant) Visa, and
- The K-1 Fiance (Immigrant) Visa
Second, how to get married in Malaysia? The US Embassy gives the following guidance: https://my.usembassy.gov/marriage/ However, a Virtual Marriage may also be a viable possibility: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/virtual-utah-marriage-alternative-to-a-proxy-marriage-for-immigration-purposes/
Now, The following are drop-down sections to help you more easily navigate and find what you are looking for:
– What Documents are going to be required for each process (Fiance or Spousal)?
Our office has an Immigration Checklist that will help aid you in identifying the mandatory items USCIS and the NVC will need according to your specific case and stage: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration-checklist/
However, there are three other important documents types that MUST get special attention:
Proving the Relationship:
Click here to see further guidance on the I-129F Fiance Petition relationship proof: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/k-1-fiance-visa/i-129f-fiance-visa-how-to-prove-your-relationship-to-uscis/
Click here to see further guidance on the I-130 Spousal Petition relationship proof: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/adjustment-of-status/joint-bona-fide-documents-how-to-start-meeting-the-uscis-i-130-evidence-requirement-for-a-marriage/
Proving the Financial Stability:
In a nutshell, the US Government needs to review the past 3 years of income, and confirm the past and current income is over the Federal Poverty Level Guideline (link to the guideline found here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-864p). The Government will normally require:
- IRS Tax Return Transcripts for the past 3 years (Guidance found here: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/how-to-request-your-irs-transcript-helpful-guide-to-acquire-this-commonly-requested-immigration-supporting-document/ )
- 1040 Tax Return Form for the past 3 years
- W-2 and/or 1099 for the most recent year
- 12 months of Paystubs or proofs of income
Since everyone’s income situation may be different, the following links do a much deeper dive into needed financial documents:
- Self Employment: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/i-864-self-employment-and-business-ownership/
- VA Disability: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/va-disability-and-us-immigration/
- I-864 Joint Sponsor: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/i-864-affidavit-of-support-joint-sponsor-guidance/
- SSI/SSDI: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/i-864-sponsorship-how-is-ssi-and-ssdi-assessed/
- Real Estate Asset: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/i-864-using-real-estate-as-an-asset/
- Stock and Dividend Income: https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/i-864-using-dividends-and-stock-portfolio-as-an-asset/
What Does the Embassy want to see:
The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia provides this Checklist on items that must be provided: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/KLL-Kuala-Lumpur.html
– What are the Consular Interview Instructions for Kuala Lumpur?
The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia provides the following instructions for consular interviews: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Supplements/Supplements_by_Post/KLL-Kuala-Lumpur.html
– How to Acquire a Malaysian Birth Certificate?
Issuing Authority: National Registration Department by Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak
Alternate Documents: Extract of birth certificate or Certificate of Registration of Birth
– How to Acquire a Malaysian Police Certificate?
First, the Police Certificate is ONLY VALID FOR 1 YEAR. The certificate can be called: Malaysian Certificate of Good Conduct. Please see the following information:
Issuing Authority: Consular Division Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Putrajaya/ Sarawak Regional Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kuching and Sabah Regional Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kota Kinabalu
Registration Criteria: Both Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have resided in Malaysia for a period of more than one year may apply for a Malaysian certificate of good conduct. The application form for the Malaysian Certificate of Good Conduct, as well as the addresses and telephone numbers of Malaysian Missions abroad, are available here: https://ekonsular.kln.gov.my/login
Processing Time: Processing time for the certificate is one to two months from the date of submission.
– I already submitted a filing and it is taking longer than expected. How can I verify that I am within normal processing time?
Please read the following blog post that will explain how you can locate the USCIS Tool to see up-to-date processing times in your specific jurisdiction. https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/how-do-i-check-uscis-processing-times/
– Immigrant Medical Instructions:
Every Immigrant Visa, regardless is K1 or IR1 or CR1, MUST receive an immigrant medical.
The Medical can ONLY be completed AFTER INSTRUCTED by the Embassy, either instructed by an Email from the Embassy Officer or by the interview being Scheduled.
The Medical MUST be completed PRIOR to an immigrant visa interview, it is a mandatory requirement. If the medical cannot be performed in time, the Embassy would give more guidance about:
- the “possible medical backlog” being ok and interview attendance can move forward or
- if a reschedule of the visa interview would be required in order to allow the medical to occur and process.
Sample Email from the Embassy:
CR-1/IR-1 Spousal (Immigrant) Visa
The IR-1 / CR-1 Spousal Immigrant Visa is the visa that would allow a Malaysian spouse to immigrate to the United States.
The process involves 2 Main Stages.
- In the first stage, the filing will be reviewed and approved by USCIS.
- Once it is approved, the filing will enter stage 2 where it is transferred to the NVC and then subsequently to the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
For a more detailed overview of this type of filing and what it entails please refer to the steps below:
- Part 1 – Petition to Recognize the Relationship – Submit the I-130 Electronically with USCIS (Related Blog Post found here)
- Part 2 – USCIS Processing – I-130 Pending awaiting a USCIS Officer to review the filing and supporting documents (Processing times Post found here)
- Part 3 – NVC Processing – Visa fees are paid, DS-260 completed, and supporting documents uploaded. (NVC Processing Times can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/nvc-timeframes.html)
- Part 4 – Consulate Interview – NVC provides the Kuala Lumpur Interview day and time, the Embassy/Consulate Account would be Registered, the Immigrant Medical Performed, Documents prepared, and Interview Attended.
- Part 5 – Green Card Printing Fee – Pay the Immigrant Fee before traveling to the US
- Part 6 – Arrive in the US – Fly to the United States, Apply/Receive US Social Security Card, and Receive Green Card in the mail within 3-4 months after entry.
Government Cost: $1200
Average Processing Time (2022 Estimate): 18-30 months (with the bulk of processing time spent in the I-130 Petition)
What is the Difference of a CR-1 or IR-1 Visa?
When the couple has been married for less than 2 years at time of interview, then a CR-1 Visa would be issued, conditioning the residence to a 2-year Green Card and requiring an I-751 thereafter. (More information found here) If the marriage is more than 2 years at time of interview, then an IR-1 Visa would be issued and a subsequent Green Card would be valid for 10 years.
K-1 Fiance (Immigrant) Visa
The Fiancee Visa has 3 Stages:
- Stage 1: I-129F Petition filed with USCIS
- Stage 2: File the DS-160 K-1 Fiance Visa application with the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this is what will allow the fiancee to enter the US
- Stage 3: Once in the US, file the I-485 Adjustment of Status with USCIS to receive a Lawful Permanent Resident Status
The intention of Stage 1 of the process is to recognize the relationship and confirm the eligibility of the petitioner. Stage 2 is intended to confirm that there will be is no marriage fraud and re-confirms eligibility. Stage 3 confirms the marriage occurred after entry on the K1 Visa and that the marriage is for love.
What are the Requirements to file for the I-129F Filing?
- The Petitioner must be a US citizen
- The Relationship is bona fide
- The US Citizen and Malaysian have physically seen each other within the past 2 years
- The US Citizen and Malaysian intend to marry with the K-1 Visa within 90 days after entry
- The US Citizen and Malaysian are legally “free to marry,” meaning there is no pending divorce.
- The US Citizen has a stable income to support the Malaysian fiance, and that income overcomes Federal Poverty Level Guidelines as stated in the USCIS I-864P
How to prepare a Letter of Intent for this process:
Below is a template our office has created to assist:
How long does the I-129F take to process?
The processing times for the I-129F petition can be found here, just select the service center the filing is located at (which that info is generally found on the filing’s Receipt Notice): https://www.fickeymartinezlaw.com/immigration/how-do-i-check-uscis-processing-times/
How long does the I-485 take to process?
The above link can assist in finding the current processing time, the difference is that you would select the local USCIS Field Office, versus a USCIS Service Center. The I-485 filing (based on marriage) generally requires an interview at a local field office.
If you require assistance with the Spousal or Fiance Visa process, please consider contacting our office to set up a consultation with our Immigration Attorney.
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