If an individual is the fiancé of an American who currently lives abroad and wishes to obtain a visa in order to come to the United States to get married, they must file for a special fiancé visa. Once the individual marries their American fiancé, they may file for an adjustment of status to become a permanent resident to obtain a green card.
An individual who obtains a fiancé is not required to intend to permanently reside in the United States. They can choose whether or not to continue residing in the United States after their marriage.
Am I Eligible for a Fiancé Visa?
An individual is eligible for a fiancé visa if they intend to marry a United States citizen whom they met within the last two years and is legally able to marry, in other words, is not currently married.
An individual seeking a fiancé visa must be able to prove these requirements with documentation. If the individual is an alien fiancé with children under the age of 21, their children may be eligible to immigrate to the United States as well.
What is a Fiancé K-1 Visa?
A fiancé visa, or K-1 visa is a visa that is granted to foreign citizens who intend to marry an American citizen. This visa allows the fiancé entry into the United States.
A fiancé visa does not grant the individual legal permanent residency, also called a green card. It only grants the individual, called an alien, 6 months to enter the United States, and 90 days following that to marry the U.S. citizen after entry.
The K-1 fiancé visa allows entry for the individual only once. Therefore, once the alien has entered the country, they cannot leave and return on the K-1 visa.
In order to be eligible for a K-1 fiancé visa, the individual must meet the following requirements:
- The individual must intend to marry a U.S. citizen. This can be proven through evidence such as actual plans of a ceremony, marriage proceedings, or other types of marriage forms in preparation to get married to the US citizen;
- They must have met your future spouse within the last two years; and
- Their future spouse must be an actual U.S. citizen and not just a permanent resident or a green card holder.
It is also required that the individual is legally able to marry. For example, they must be the proper age and not married to another individual.
Does Fiancé Visa Fraud Make it More Difficult to Obtain a Visa?
The instances of fiancé visa fraud make it more difficult for individuals to obtain their K-1 fiancé visas. This type of fraud occurs when an individual uses deceit or misrepresentation to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa. This type of fraud is fairly common because it takes less time to secure this type of visa than other types of visas.
It is also common for individuals to attempt to defraud the United States government through marriage immigration. It is also common for one party to the engagement to be defrauding the other, such as an alien fiancé using the U.S. citizen fiancé as a means to enter the country.
Because of these issues, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instituted measures to prevent individuals in a sham marriage from being issued a visa, and penalize those who are caught doing so.
Examples of fiancé visa fraud that are discovered by the USCIS may include:
- An individual lying and providing false information on the visa application;
- A fiancé showing staged photos or other fake evidence supporting a sham marriage; and
- A witness falsely testifying on behalf of the couple and their relationship history.
If the USCIS has any suspicion that a couple is not being truthful in the K-1 visa process, it is highly likely the individuals will be investigated for fraud.
How Do I Obtain a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
In order to obtain a fiancé visa, the U.S. citizen fiancé must file a Petition for Alien Fiancé, USCIS Form I-129F. Once this petition has been processed and approved, it will be sent to the embassy or consulate where the fiancé is applying. Once the Petition for Alien Fiancé has been approved, the alien fiancé has 4 months to apply for the K-1 fiancé visa.
In order to receive the K-1 fiancé visa, the alien fiancé must provide the following to the embassy:
- A passport valid for six months after the individual’s intended entry into U.S.;
- A birth certificate;
- A police certificate from all places the fiancé has resided in since the age of 16;
- A medical examination;
- Evidence of financial support;
- Two Nonimmigrant Visa Applications, called Form DS-156;
- One Nonimmigrant Fiance Visa Application, called Form DS-156K; and
- Evidence of a fiancé relationship, which may be provided by the evidence discussed above.
How Do I Apply for a Fiancé Visa?
The steps to apply for a fiancé visa are as follows:
- The U.S. citizen must file Form I-129 F, called a Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of their fiancé and provide proof of U.S. citizenship;
- Each fiancé must independently file form G-325A, which is a biographical information sheet;
- The individuals must submit photos of their fiancés;
- The individuals must submit copies of divorce papers or death certificates if a fiancé has been previously married;
- If a fiancé is younger than 16 years of age, proof of permission to marry must be supplied;
- Once the alien fiancé arrives in the United States, the individuals must be married within 90 days; and
- Once the individuals are married, they must follow the instructions for applying for a marriage visa.
How Long Will It Take to Obtain My Fiancé Visa?
It can take up to 6 months to obtain a fiancé visa. It may take another year after the marriage before the individual receives their permanent visa.
Obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa is a long process and may take a long period of time. The process is a multi-step process that includes the U.S citizen filing a petition with the USCIS for approval.
Following that application, the alien fiancé will be required to provide additional documentation to the local US embassy in their home country. They may also be required to attend a medical exam and visa interview.
How Do I Apply for Permanent Residency Once Married?
Once the alien fiancé and the United States citizen fiancé are married, the alien must apply for a marriage visa. This will grant the alien spouse permanent residency.
The alien spouse must file an Application to Register Permanent Residence, USCIS Form I-485. The U.S. citizen spouse must file an Affidavit of Support, USCIS Form I-864. Once approved, the alien spouse will be granted a conditional green card.
After 2 years of marriage, the alien spouse can apply to remove the conditional status, Form I-751. The alien spouse must have been married for at least 2 years or have been divorced from a good-faith marriage. They must also demonstrate that the marriage was not entered into in order to evade immigration laws.
How Do I Find a Fiancé Visa Lawyer?
It is essential to have the help of an experienced immigration lawyer for any immigration issues you may have, including obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa. Immigration laws and requirements for legal residency are very complex and have strict deadlines that must be followed. These may be especially difficult to follow if English is not your native language.
A lawyer will review your application to ensure it is accurate and complete, which will help to expedite the visa process. In addition, your attorney can help you file an appeal if your initial visa application is denied.