So you met someone you want to marry. Congratulations! That’s the hard part. Well, that’s part of the hard part. If your fiance is not a US citizen, the other hard part is getting through the immigration process so that you can live together in the United States permanently. There are a few different options about how to obtain a green card for your foreign-born fiance. However, if you are planning on bringing your fiance to United States prior to your marriage and getting married within the United States, the fiance visa is the proper option for you.
So what are the requirements? How do you actually get a visa? And is everything you’ve seen on 90 -Day Fiance really true?
The first requirement for a fiance visa is that the petitioner is a US citizen. Unlike some petitioning categories where permanent residents (people with green cards) can bring their spouses to the United States, there is no way for a permanent resident to bring their fiance. So, if you are currently a permanent resident and you are engaged to someone abroad, your first step will be to complete the citizenship process for yourself. Or, you know, choose one of the options that involves marrying your fiance first before petitioning for them.
Next, you must have met your fiance physically in person within the two years prior to filing your application. Most of our clients these days meet online, and that’s fine, but you must visit each other either in the US or in their home country or third country in person and have proof of that. And yes, there are some rare exceptions to this requirement such as if you come from a culture where it would be completely inappropriate for you to ever have met your fiance in person prior to the wedding, but those are pretty rare. So, if you have not yet met your fiance in person, it’s time to start planning that trip!
You and your fiance both must be legally free to marry each other. Sometimes people don’t think about that because it seems like a given. However, if either of you was married in any country in the world you must finalize your divorce. You also must not be too closely related, and your fiance can’t be a minor.
Your fiance has to be eligible for a visa from United States. The legal term for this is being “admissible.” There are a lot of complicated laws that determine who is admissible and who is inadmissible. To give you an idea, things like a criminal history or ties to terrorist organizations or contagious diseases or previous immigration violations can be things that can make a person inadmissible. It’s a good idea to check your admissibility with an immigration lawyer before starting a case, whether you plan to hire an attorney for the whole case or not. Sometimes people do their own fiance visa, or they do their fiance visa with the help of an online document preparer and they don’t find out until their interview at the Embassy that they are unfortunately inadmissible. The good news is that sometimes inadmissibility can be cured with different types of waivers, which is something we have obtained for hundreds of couples.
Another requirement for the fiance visa that many people overlook is the fact the petitioner cannot have certain disqualifying crimes in their background. These crimes even include things that have been expunged. This is the only type of immigration case in which the criminal history of the US citizen matters at all.
Assuming you meet all the requirements for a fiance visa, it’s time to start the paperwork! There are three different main phases of paperwork to be completed. First, there is a fiance petition where the government looks to see if you have a real relationship and really planned to marry each other. Then, in the next phase the government checks the admissibility of the foreign fiance and interviews them at the US Embassy in a foreign country. If everything goes well, the fiance gets a K1 visa printed in their passport and they can travel to the United States. Then they have a 90-day period of time where they can decide whether or not to marry each other. If they do not get married, the foreign fiance must leave the United States. However, typically a couple does get married and then they move onto the final phase of the process which is applying for a green card for the fiance to reside permanently in the United States.