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What if you are engaged to be married?  Can you bring your fiancé(e) to the U.S.?

In short, yes, it is possible.

Generally, you and your fiancé must have met in person within the two years prior to commencing the immigration process.  Unlike petitions for married couples, you must be a U.S. citizen to petition for your foreign fiancé(e) – meaning, you cannot petition for your fiancé if you are a U.S. permanent resident.

The K-1 fiancé(e) visa allows a foreign fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.  Once married, the foreign fiancé(e) will be able to apply to become a permanent resident / “green card” holder.  This is also called an adjustment of status to a permanent resident status.

Eligibility Requirements

If you petition for a fiancé(e) visa, you must show that:

  • You (the petitioner) are a U.S. citizen.
  • You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States.
  • You and your fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions that require a waiver:
    • 1. If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
    • 2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.

How do I obtain a “Fiancé(e)” visa?

The first step is for the U.S. citizen to file a petition for the foreign fiancé(e) – also known as the Form I-129F.  Both the U.S. citizen and the foreign fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry at the time the petition is filed. The marriage must also be performed in accordance with the laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place. Eligible children of K-1 fiancé(e) visa applicants may also benefit, however they must obtain K-2 visas.

Once the petition is approved, the foreign fiancé(e) will file the required documentation and attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in order to obtain a nonimmigrant K-1 Fiancé(e) visa.

After the nonimmigrant K-1 Fiancé(e) visa is issued, the foreign fiancé(e) may travel to the United States in order to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e).  In most cases, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years.  USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement, based on extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), or, for example, if it is contrary in the U.S. citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé(e)’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage.

The First Step: Filing the Petition

  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the petition, your file is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).  The National Visa Center (NVC) will begin by issuing your file a case number, then it will send your petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé(e) resides.

The Second Step: Applying for a Visa

To apply for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa, the foreign fiancé(e) must pay the fees, complete the required forms, and file the necessary documentation with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

K-1 Visa Interview

Once your documentation arrives at the foreign consulate, the foreign fiancé(e) will be able to schedule an interview.  During this interview, a consular official will ask you a number of questions about your relationship.  The consular official will also determine whether you have any grounds of inadmissibility that would prohibit you from getting a visa.  You may not be admissible to the United States if you have a criminal record, or have been in the United States before and violated an immigration law, or a number of other potential grounds.

With the K-1 visas, the government is really focused on the relationship.  Like any other visa interview, they are going to ask about the applicant’s criminal record and see if they have other grounds of inadmissibility, but once they get through that they are going to focus a lot on the relationship.  They will read through the statements that you submitted about how you have met and they will really get into detail to try to make sure that everything you said in the application make sense and is true and to kind of just double check everything that you stated.

If none of those grounds of inadmissibility apply to you and they believe you have a valid relationship with your partner, then you will be allowed to enter the United States.  As soon as you come in, you have ninety days to get married and then go forward with the rest of the immigration process.

Medical Examination and Vaccination Requirements

In preparing for the interview, applicants will need to schedule and complete a medical examination.  Before the issuance of an immigrant or K visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician.

K visa applicants are encouraged to get the vaccinations required under U.S. immigration law for immigrant visa applicants.  Although such vaccinations are not required for K visa issuance, they will be required when adjusting status to that of legal permanent resident following your marriage.  Applicants are therefore encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination.  See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

Financial Support and Affidavits of Support

During the process, applicants will be required to present evidence that they will have financial support in the United States.  Evidence that your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is able to provide support must be submitted.

Government Filing Fees

Fees are required at the following steps:

  • Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition
  • Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee (required for each K visa applicant)
  • Medical examination (required for each K visa applicant; costs vary from post to post)
  • Filing to Adjust Status

How Long Will It Take to Get My K Visa?

The length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances.  K-1 Fiancé(e) visas must be processed by several different government agencies. Many cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully or supply incomplete information. Other cases require further administrative processing if insufficient evidence or documentation is provided. This will probably cause additional wait time after the interview by a Consular Officer. So much can go wrong at the various steps, which is why it is important to meet with an attorney who is knowledgeable of the process.

After You Receive a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa

With your visa, you can apply for a single admission at a U.S. port-of-entry while your K-1 Fiancé(e) visa remains valid (which will be a maximum of 6 months from the date of issuance). After you arrive in the United State, you are required to marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of your entry.

What if I do not marry my fiancé(e) within 90 days of your arrival?

Our office may still be able to help you.  We suggest that you contact our office as soon as possible.

Does My U.S. Citizen Fiancé(e) Need to File Separate Petitions for My Children?

Not necessarily.  Your eligible children may apply for K-2 visas based on the approval of your Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).  However, the children must be listed on the petition and separate visa applications must be submitted for each K-2 visa applicant.

After your marriage, your children will need to separately adjust status. It is important to note that your child must be unmarried.  Additionally, to allow your children to adjust status and obtain a green card, you must marry your spouse before the child reaches the age of 18.

Are My Children Required to Travel with Me?

Your children may “accompany” you and travel with you to the United States.  They may also travel at a later date – this is called “follow-to-join”. Like their parent, the children must travel to the United States before their visas expire.  There is no need to file a separate petition if the children “accompany” or “follow to join” within one year from the date of issuance of the original K-1 visa. If they want to travel later than one year from the date the K-1 visa was issued, they will need separate immigrant visa petitions.

Fiancé Visa for Same sex couples

Recently, K visas have become available to members of same-sex couples, which is an exciting and progressive development in the U.S. immigration field.  The process for fiancées is the same as for all couples.  It is initiated via form I-129 and filed domestically with USCIS. Once USCIS approves it, the case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center and then on to the consulate or embassy abroad.  At that point, the foreign fiancée will be scheduled for an interview and will then enter the U.S. They will be required to marry the fiancée within 90 days of entering.  Once the marriage is finalized, the I-130 and adjustment of status application will be filed, and the spouse will be scheduled for an interview here in the U.S. for the green card.