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DEADLINE ALERT: New work and travel permit fees may add to wedding stress for international marriages

Published Thursday, Aug. 27th, 2020


Beginning October 2nd, newlyweds applying for a green card will encounter significantly higher fees for their corresponding work and travel permits. This added financial concern, along with other variables in flux (like venue and guest cancelations), is prompting some couples to move up their wedding dates. 


These cost increases will be steep, beginning at $550 and up to several thousand dollars for each applicant, and will not include necessary renewal costs. This reflects a $550 fee for work permits and a $590 fee for travel permits.


Understanding the increased complexity of international weddings can also benefit officiants, who work closely with couples to understand where they’re coming from. Love certainly doesn’t confine itself to national borders, and since transnational communities are the bedrock of American society, it’s important that we are aware of these new developments.


Marriage has a long history of building transnational bonds


Previously, when an immigrant married a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, these permits were free and could be easily bundled into the green card application process. Renewals were also free, and often necessary, due to lengthy and unpredictable processing times for green cards. For example, in the Seattle area, current processing times for green cards are anywhere from 12 to 35 months, and work permits must be renewed after one year. Now, permits will need to filed for separately, further complicating and drawing out the application process. 


These changes come at a time when many average couples are already focused on financial challenges and uncertainty. Drastic changes in immigration policy over the last few years have also increased fears within immigrant communities.


It’s important to note that these changes will not affect the status of visa holders and green cards applicants. The real effects will be financial. 


If you’re an international couple whose wedding has been impacted by the pandemic, you might consider moving up your wedding date. If you do, you’ll want to act fast. Cut-off times for filing at many immigration law offices will be happening soon.


Note: We’d like to thank Attorney Inna Scott at the Seattle-based firm Global Law Advocates for her help gathering the details for this post. Thank you for helping to educate us on this issue and all the work you do with our immigrant friends!

Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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