Love does not always recognize international borders. When an American citizen gets engaged to marry a person from another country, the couple often asks about their immigration options.
If the couple plans to live in the United States, it is generally necessary to petition for a K-1 visa, commonly known as a fiancé visa.
The K-1 visa authorizes a person engaged to an American citizen to enter the country for 90 days for purposes of getting married. It is important that the couple get married during that 90-day period or the person will need to leave the country.
Once the couple marries, the fiancé can petition for lawful permanent resident status and remain in the country while the petition is being processed. If the fiancé has minor children, they can also petition for their children’s entry and residency in the country.
Requirements for a fiancé visa
As you might expect, a primary requirement to obtain a fiancé visa is intent to marry. It may be necessary to offer evidence that your engagement is legitimate, such as photographs, records of visits or time together or written statements from others attesting to the validity of the relationship.
You must also show that both parties are eligible to marry. If you or your fiancé has previously been married, you may need to provide documentation of a divorce or the death of a previous spouse.
With limited exceptions, the couple must also show that they met in person within the past two years.
Completing the petition process
While each case varies, it generally takes 12–15 months to obtain a fiancé visa.
If you are considering petitioning for a fiancé visa, it is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney. Mistakes on a petition can significantly delay or result in denial of a petition, so it is always best to get assistance with the petitioning process.