Annabelle had been dating Mario, an American citizen, for two years before the latter filed a fiancé petition for her. While Annabelle has two minor children from another relationship, she was never married.
After waiting for more than a year, the consular officer at the United States Embassy in Manila finally issued Annabelle a K1 fiancé visa and K2 visas for her two minor children. On Dec. 1, Annabelle and her children arrived in California to live with Mario. But two weeks after her arrival, Mario suffered a severe stroke and fell into a coma. He is still confined in a hospital and his chances of recovery do not look good.
Concerned about the situation of Annabelle, her cousin, Teresa sent me an email asking the following question: What will happen to
the visas of Annabelle and her two kids just in case the fiancé does not wake up, or worse, if he dies?
There are two requirements for a fiancé visa holder to obtain the green card upon arrival in the United States: (1) Marriage with her petitioning fiancé must take place within 90 days from date of entry. (2) After marriage, an application for “adjustment of status” should be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to obtain a permanent resident visa or green card.
Since Mario is in a coma, it may be impossible for him to marry Annabelle. The law is clear on this matter. If there is no marriage, Annabelle has no other recourse but to leave the US to avoid falling out of status.
Annabelle may still stay in the US within the 90-day period and attend to her ailing fiancé.
Assuming that Mario recovers and marries Annabelle, the first requirement of marriage would be met.
If Mario dies after marriage but before the application for adjustment of status is filed or is approved, Annabelle may still obtain her green card. Death before the marriage and death after the marriage have different consequences. The latter scenario may allow the petitioned spouse to get his or her green card.
Marriage in the hospital
Regarding the question of whether Annabelle and Mario may be married in the hospital, the response will depend on whether all the elements that constitute a valid marriage are present. For one, the validity of the marriage depends on his ability to voluntarily give consent to the marriage.
Based on the information provided by Teresa in her lengthy e-mail, Annabelle is suffering from depression as a result of what happened to her fiancé. Mario’s falling into a state of coma came as a total shock to her. But though this incident happened unexpectedly, it is not an unusual scenario for many Filipinos waiting for their visa petitions to become current. There are cases where, after many years of waiting, the petitioners’ sudden demised destroyed the dreams of many wishing to reunite with family members in the US.
One’s fate is uncertain. Disasters, catastrophes, losses and severe illness may befall any individual. When unexpected circumstances arise, whether health related or otherwise, one should hold on to one’s faith that somehow there is a deeper meaning to what is happening. This Christmas, let us spend time to reflect and thank our Creator for all the blessings and pray for strength for all those who are similarly situated as Annabelle and Mario. The spirit of Christmas does not only bring joy but it also brings hope and renewed strength for many who are feeling discouraged. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas!
(Tancinco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 8877177 or 7211963)