American/Indian Marriage - Visa queries

#1 Aug 25th, 2009, 14:01
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  • GQwerty123 is offline
#1
Hello all,

Rather than start a new thread, I'll just post in this one, as the concerns are somewhat similar.

Here's my situation. Any advice would be much appreciated.

I am an American citizen and have lived in India since January 2007, except for two months back in the US in 2008.

I am currently in India on an extended employment visa (though the extension was supplied by Mumbai FRRO, and is a temporary one, not the one from Delhi).

My fiancee is an Indian citizen. She's also working in Mumbai.

We want to go to the USA for postgraduate studies in Fall 2010, which would require us to apply by December 2009. She is also considering Fall 2011 admission.

After that, we'd ideally work in the US for a couple years before returning to India to work and raise a family.

We are both trues patriot and wants to maintain our separate citizenships.

We have tentatively started planning for a February wedding, to take place in Mumbai.


So here's my dilemma: If we get the wedding registered in India in February, and she decides against Fall 2010 admission and opts for Fall 2011, would she be eligible to join me in America when I go for studies in Fall 2010? What about green card eligibility?

Also, since I've been in India since 2007, would I be eligible for a PIO card before the obligatory 1 year waiting period (I'd already be back in America after 1 year). I would need to get the PIO card in April-May 2010.

Would it make more sense for her to come on a student visa to America and have the marriage registered there? It seems like most people here are suggesting to do the marriage in the US.

Also, to have the proper Kashmiri Hindu marriage in India, do I have to convert? (I'm a nonpracticing Catholic. She's a Hindu)

Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks.
#2 Aug 25th, 2009, 15:49
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
The only bit I know... the eligability period for your PIO will begin with your marriage; previous time spent in India will not count.
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#3 Aug 25th, 2009, 19:13
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  • curtdfw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GQwerty123 View Post So here's my dilemma: If we get the wedding registered in India in February, and she decides against Fall 2010 admission and opts for Fall 2011, would she be eligible to join me in America when I go for studies in Fall 2010? What about green card eligibility?
You can apply for her green card just after marriage, and applying from India is simple. It took us only a few months. We filed our I-130 at the US Embassy in Delhi -- paid our fees, had an initial interview to confirm the relationship and establish our residency, no problems.

An advantage of starting the visa process from India is that it's somewhat faster than doing it from the US. Note on the link below that you have to demonstrate residence in India to do this -- a residence permit is needed; a tourist can't do it.

http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov/uscisi130pet.html

Setting aside the patriotism thing, consider going for an immigrant rather than a non-immigrant visa for your wife. The documentation required is pretty much the same for either. With a US passport (which she can get after three years) and an OCI card (plus a PIO card for you) you both have freedom of movement in both countries with minimal restrictions. Traveling to Europe or Asia, for instance, is more complex for my wife and I as she has to get visas for many countries where I do not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GQwerty123 View Post Also, since I've been in India since 2007, would I be eligible for a PIO card before the obligatory 1 year waiting period (I'd already be back in America after 1 year). I would need to get the PIO card in April-May 2010.
Concur with Nick -- you'll have to wait a year after marriage to apply for PIO. I tried diligently just after my marriage in 2007 and got nowhere, and that was even enlisting the aid of an Indian ambassador that's a family friend. The good part is that once the year elapsed, it took only a month for PIO processing through the Houston Consulate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GQwerty123 View Post Would it make more sense for her to come on a student visa to America and have the marriage registered there? It seems like most people here are suggesting to do the marriage in the US.
A common suggestion is that you do the marriage where you expect to spend most of your time, which makes sense.

That said, you're already in India, and so you could move forward with the marriage without any additional travels, visa etc. You can also get the green card process started sooner. Getting a US student or a fiance visa is more complexity, expense and uncertainty (the fiance of a former staffer of mine when I was working in Delhi has been working on the documentation for the fiance visa for over a year, and is still fighting the Indian bureaucrats. The issues are not with the US, but getting the police clearances, birth certificates, etc from Indian authorities).

We were married in 2007 under the Special Marriage Act. The process in Delhi was pretty simple and took only two months including the 30-day notice period. Search the site and you'll find several threads on the process.
“She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.” – Mark Twain
#4 Aug 26th, 2009, 07:37
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  • namaste_cat is offline
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GQwerty123 - to add to the great info curtdfw provided just based on my experience, I'd say the most seamless would be for your fiancee to get a student visa. Then get married in the States, and start green card process.

That said, I do think curt has a point about it being easier to do the green card thing from India like he and his wife did b/c I had no end of problems with mine here Also this way in case she starts school in 2011 instead of 2010, it won't be problematic & you can start your PIO process in a year.

I do know one person, my Welsh sis-in-law in fact who was working in India when she met my brother. In her case, she was given PIO 3 months after her wedding date. Other than her, I don't know anyone who has been able to get it in less than 1 yr post-marriage. You might be one of the lucky ones like her, never know

If you decide to go that route, take a look at this pdf which has info on what you will need later to register a Hindu marriage in India:
http://registryoffice.up.nic.in/pdf/hindumarriage.pdf
And note certain things in it e.g. you cannot have a living spouse (in our case neither of us had a dead or living spouse), and will need a "conversion certificate" if you aren't already Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh.

My American husband and I had a Hindu wedding in India. The priest didn't ask if Jay was Hindu or not. He didn't seem to care. Although Jay is a lapsed Catholic who is a bit hostile to most religions, the only one he is pretty cool about is Hinduism, and celebrates Diwali etc w/ me. So he would probably have been ok with a conversion certificate, but it didn't come to that.
We ended up not registering our wedding in India anyway. Just telling you this so you can decide based on your comfort level whether to register under the Hindu Marriage Act or not.

As for citizenship, I get it. It took me 25 yrs to make the important decision to become a US citizen. The US is the only country I would even consider trading sides with, so to speak, but even so it was not easy so I understand where your fiancee's coming from

For yrs I put up w/ the annoyance of getting visas for European countries, also the disrespect at airports when flights to the US/India were delayed, but still stubbornly clung to my Indian citizenship while hubby and kids rolled their eyes in exasperation. OCI was what did it for me, and I must say it's been fantastic. I would urge your fiancee to consider it.

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