Dear Sophie: What’s allowed between a K-1 visa and a green card?

​​Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

Great news! After a long COVID delay, my fiancée finally arrived in the U.S. on her K visa.

We’re thinking about eloping to Las Vegas for a quick wedding so we can get started on her green card application. (In Silicon Valley, we’d have to wait a few months to get a marriage license.)

After we file, we want to have a big wedding in the spring with her family and friends in her hometown and then go on a honeymoon. Is that allowed?

— Happy in Hayward

Dear Happy,

Congratulations on being reunited with your fiancée through the K-1 visa and your upcoming wedding! My law partner, Anita Koumriqian, has been immersed in her own wedding planning these past few months. So, in addition to being an expert in family immigration law, she’s super knowledgeable about all things related to getting married, including local Silicon Valley jurisdictions that have residency requirements for a marriage license and generally how long it takes to get a marriage certificate. On our podcast, we chatted about wedding planning, marriage licenses, applying for a green card for a spouse once you’re married, and the dos and don’ts of proving to immigration that your marriage is legit.

Always consult with an immigration attorney first and never just rely on Googling your way through the green card process. For more details, check out our prior podcast, Engaged, Now What?

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Vegas is still possible

Once you have your marriage certificate, you can file for a green card for your wife. Locally, while Santa Clara and San Francisco counties are still backlogged in issuing marriage licenses due to COVID, nearby Santa Cruz County is quicker and allows you to get married in California.