After a wild and adventurous romance overseas, you mustered the courage to pop the question. Your oh-so-perfect lover agreed, and you announced the engagement to your friends and family members in the states. You and your fiancé or fiancée decided to marry in your hometown, and your family was overjoyed to help with the reception plans. But your preparations aren’t over yet. Don’t forget to follow these steps to ensure your foreign partner immigrates to the US as smoothly as possible.

Spend Time with Your Intended

Immigrating to the US requires a lot of paperwork, and many individuals try to circumvent the laws through arranged marriage. In order to become eligible for certain visas, you must prove that you met your spouse within two years of filing. Feel free to spend some romantic evenings with your partner. Attend movies and keep the ticket stubs. Eat dinners at restaurants and save the receipts. Take pictures in the park or film your latest kayaking trip. The more you build your relationship, the more evidence you have to back your application.

If you are already a US citizen and you want to bring your soon-to-be spouse to the states for your marriage, you’ll need to file a petition for alien fiancé or fiancée. In general, the entire petition process takes at least six months from the day you file to the day the file transfers to the US consulate, so don’t count on a speedy, last-minute elope in Vegas. To start your petition, fill out an I-129F form as well as a G-1145 form. You can find both forms available at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website along with instructions to complete the forms. With so many documents and papers to file, you might worry about missing an important step which could delay your marriage. Fortunately, immigration lawyers like Joshua Goldstein can guide you through the application process and help you avoid any legal obstacles along the way. Your lawyer will make sure you have the proper birth certificates, passports, divorce decrees (or death certificates) that confirm your marriage as legal. He or she can help you or your spouse file for additional visas should the initial application process take longer than expected. When you follow these four steps, you can make sure your upcoming big day a special one with no hiccups or bumps along the way.