US immigration law provides an opportunity for US citizens to bring their fiancé to the United States with a K-1 visa. Once the fiancé enters the United States with a K-1 visa, they must get married within 90 days before the visa expires. After the wedding, the fiancé is expected to apply for an adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (aka a Green Card).
Unfortunately, fiancé visas are only available for US citizens, not lawful permanent residents. If you have a Green Card and you’d like to bring your fiancé to the United States, you’ll need to marry your fiancé before applying for a Green Card as an immediate family member. Alternately, you could apply for US citizenship if you qualify for naturalization. After you become a naturalized US citizen in 6 – 12 months, you could then petition for a K-1 visa on behalf of your fiancé.
Eligibility for a Fiancé Visa
US citizens (by birth or naturalization) may be eligible to bring their fiancé to the United States with a K-1 nonimmigrant visa under the following conditions:
- You intend to marry your fiancé within 90 days of their admission to the United States
- You and your fiancé are both legally free to marry (i.e. if either party was previously married, the marriage must be legally terminated by death, divorce, or annulment)
- You and your fiancé have met each other in person at least once within the past two years (unless doing so would result in extreme hardship to the US citizen petitioner, or would violate strict and long-established customs in the foreign party’s culture or social practice)
How to Bring Your Fiancé to the United States
The process of bringing your fiancé to the United States can be lengthy, as it involves US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the US State Department (DOS), and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). There may be multiple background and security checks conducted on both parties, including screenings through databases for criminal history and national security using fingerprints, biographic information, and other biometric services.
Generally speaking, the process of bringing your fiancé to the United States as a permanent resident involves 5 steps:
- File a Petition for Alien Fiancé
- Obtain a K-1 nonimmigrant visa
- Inspection at a US Port of Entry
- Get married within 90 days of admission to the United States
- File for an adjustment of status
File a Petition for Alien Fiancé
The first step in the application process is to complete and submit Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. In addition to Form I-129F, your petition packet will need to include the following documentation:
- A passport-style photograph (in color) of the foreign fiancé taken in the last 30 days
- A passport-style photograph (in color) of the US citizen taken in the last 30 days
- Evidence of your US citizenship – a copy of your US passport, US birth certificate, naturalization certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or an original statement from a US consular officer verifying that you are a US citizen with a valid passport
- Evidence that any previous marriages have been legally terminated – a divorce decree, annulment order, or death certificate
- Evidence that you intend to marry your fiancé within 90 days of their admission into the United States
- Evidence that you met your fiancé within two years of filing Form I-129F (unless you qualify for an exemption)
If USCIS approves your petition, the agency will notify you of the approval and forward the petition to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC). If your petition is denied, you should receive a notification from USCIS that includes an explanation of the reasons for denial along with information on how you can appeal the decision.
Obtain a K-1 Nonimmigrant Visa
Once the NVC processes your approved Form I-129F, the petition will be forwarded to the US Embassy or consulate where your fiancé will apply for their visa. A consular officer will contact your fiancé to schedule a visa interview, at which point your fiancé will need to formally apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa online.
At the visa interview, the consular officer will determine if your fiancé is admissible to the United States and eligible for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Assuming the interview goes well, the officer will then process their fingerprints and deliver the approved visa packet. The visa packet is valid for up to six months for a single entry into the United States.
Inspection at a US Port of Entry
Keep in mind that an approved visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Rather, it allows an individual to travel to a US Port of Entry, where they will be inspected by a CBP officer. In most cases, the CBP interview is short (less than five minutes) and the traveler will be “inspected and admitted” into the United States.
Get married within 90 days of admission to the United States
As soon as your fiancé is admitted into the United States, the clock starts. You’ll have 90 days to marry your fiancé before their visa expires. Failure to do so may be considered a violation of the terms of their visa and can result in deportation.
File for an Adjustment of Status
After the wedding, your new spouse will need to apply for a Green Card. It is critical that you do this in a timely manner, as your spouse’s visa status will eventually expire if they do not successfully obtain an adjustment of status.
The primary Green Card application is Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Your spouse will need to complete and submit this form to USCIS, along with all of the necessary evidence, documentation, and filing fees ($750 – $1,225). After USCIS receives the application packet, your spouse will need to complete a Green Card medical exam and an interview with a USCIS officer at the nearest field office.
If you petition for a Green Card less than two years after getting married, USCIS will approve conditional permanent residency with a Green Card that’s valid for just two years (a standard Green Card is valid for 10 years, by comparison). Your spouse will eventually need to petition to remove the conditions on their permanent residency by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, in the 90 days before their Green Card expires.
Fiancé Immigration Help in Arizona
If you are currently a lawful permanent resident in the United States trying to bring your fiancé into the country with a visa, you may have to wait until you are a naturalized citizen. However, you may still have options. The best way to determine how to get your fiancé a visa is by speaking with an immigration attorney.
JakcsonWhite is an Arizona based law firm, with a dedicated immigration team lead by attorney Pace Rawlins. Pace and his team are devoted to helping Arizona families with their immigration needs.
Whatever your family’s situation may be, we can help.
Call our Immigration team at(480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.