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Petition for Foreign National Fiancé

U.S. citizens can apply for a visa on behalf of their foreign national fiancé.  

It is important to note that unlike in the case of spousal petitions, lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are not allowed to petition for their fiancé to come to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.

The K-1 nonimmigrant visa (also known as the fiancée visa) allows the foreign national intended spouse to enter the United States to marry the U.S. citizen. Once the marriage occurs, the foreign national can apply for a green card.

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STEP 1: Petition for Your Fiancé

The first step of the fiancé process is to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). Like the I-130 petition for a spouse, you will be expected to submit documentation as to the legitimacy of your relationship. Further, you will have to confirm your intent to marry once your fiancé arrives in the United States. Once the I-129F petition is approved, your fiancé will be able to apply for the K-1 visa.

Remember that an approved petition is valid for four months, during which time your fiancée must apply for the K-1 visa. Also, an approved petition only gives your fiancé permission to secure their K-1 visa. An approved K-1 (fiancé visa) petition does not confer any immigration status or benefit.

STEP 2: Consular Processing

After an approved petition, all fiancés must then go through a process called “Consular Processing” which means they will apply for the K-1 visa at a U.S. consulate in their home country. They will need to file form DS-160: Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application

As part of the process, the foreign national fiancé will need to attend an interview during which a consular official will question your fiancé to confirm their intent to marry you in the United States as well as the legitimacy of the relationship.

To be eligible for the visa, these three criteria must be met:

    1. The petitioner (person applying) must be a U.S. citizen. 
    2. The foreign national fiancé wishes to enter the U.S. only for the purpose of marrying the U.S. citizen.
    3. The marriage must take place within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry to the U.S. 

In addition, before you apply for the K-1 fiancé visa, you and your fiancé must have met in person within the two years prior to filing the visa petition. There are limited situations in which this requirement is waived, therefore please discuss your individual case with an experience immigration attorney.

Failure to comply with this requirement can result in unlawful entry and subsequent denial of naturalization. The law firm of Sam Shihab & Associates is experienced to guide you through the K-1 fiancé visa process.

It is vital to plan ahead and make sure you are applying with plenty of time before your marriage ceremony, since the fiancé visa timeline can range from 6-18 months depending on many factors including the country of residence of your fiancé.  

For more details around qualifications for the fiancé visa, please refer to our blog Fiancé Visa: Before You Say “I Do.”

STEP 3: Entrance to the U.S.

Once a fiancé visa is approved, your intended spouse will be issued a short term (90 day) visa to enter the United States.  Once they arrive in the United States, they will be required to marry you within 90 days.

There is no requirement for the kind of wedding ceremony you must have. The main point to consider is that you need to be legally married within 90 days of the arrival of your fiancé to the U.S. This is usually done via a small civil ceremony conducted by a government official. Due to the unpredictable timing and processing of the visa, it may be difficult to plan a large ceremony ahead of time.

STEP 4: Adjustment of Status

After you are married your spouse will then be required to file for Adjustment of Status in the United States. During this interview, a USCIS officer will interview you and your spouse to confirm the legitimacy of your marriage. 

After a successful Adjustment of Status interview, your spouse will receive their green card in the mail in a few weeks. 

A Note About Conditional Permanent Residency

If you and your spouse are married for less than two years at the time the green card is issued (a certainty in a fiancé visa case), your spouse will be given a “conditional” green card with a two-year duration.  

In the 90 days before the conditional green card is set to expire you will be required to file a “Removal of Conditions” application. During this process, which may include another interview, USCIS will once again evaluate your marriage to confirm it is legitimate.

The reasoning behind the conditional green card, as well as the multiple interviews, is that the government is concerned with marriage fraud. Individuals have been known to marry a U.S. citizen for the sole purpose of securing a green card.  

A skilled immigration lawyer can help you identify any issues in your case that might create a concern about marriage fraud and help you to address them before they become a bigger problem.

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How We Can Help

The attorneys of Sam Shihab & Associates have helped many families navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration process. Please call or email us for a free consultation with an experience family-based immigration attorney and learn more about the process of petitioning for your foreign-born fiancé. 

Our immigration attorneys will review your forms and applications for thoroughness and accuracy. Immigration laws will continually change, but an experienced immigration attorney will always be able to give you the most up-to-date immigration advice you need.

We have offices in Dublin and Columbus, OhioMichigan, and Texas. But our full suite of immigration law services is available to clients nationwide and even around the world.

Contact us today!