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What Is a Fiancé Visa and How Does It Work?

If you're the fiancé of a U.S. citizen and plan to come to the United States to get married, you qualify for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. The only catch? You have to get married within 90 days.

A K-1 nonimmigrant visa, commonly known as a fiancé(e) visa, is available to foreign fiancés of U.S citizens who plan to travel to the States to get married. It's important to note that the K-1 visa is a temporary visa. If you plan to live in the United States after the wedding ceremony, you'll have to apply for a green card.

Moreover, the process can be lengthy and involves a solid amount of bureaucracy. Hence, it's always best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before embarking on the complicated journey of applying for a fiancé visa. Here's some basic info that will help.

Who qualifies for a fiancé visa?

Engagement to a citizen doesn't automatically mean that the foreign fiancé is entitled to a K-1 visa. As expected, you and your fiancé need to meet certain criteria to qualify. You both need to be legally free to marry and prove that you have met each other in person at least once within the two years prior to filing the petition. Plus, you need to get married within 90 days of you being admitted to the U.S. As long as you meet all these conditions you can start the application process. Adjudication by the USCIS is likely to last at least 6 months.

What are the first steps to getting a fiancé visa?

First, the U.S. citizen needs to complete and file the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Petition for Alien Fiancé. He/she will be required to submit additional documents as well, including proof of citizenship and evidence of relationship. Once the USCIS approves the petition, they will forward it to the National Visa Center which will conduct background checks and request much additional information and forms from both you and your fiancé.

After that, your file will be transferred to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy or consulate that has jurisdiction over your fiancé's place of residence. You'll get further instructions about any additional documentation your fiancé needs to complete the process. The final step involves being interviewed at the U.S. consulate.

Anything else I should know?

Generally, your fiancé(e) visa will be valid for four months from the date it was issued. However, once you enter the U.S., you'll only have 90 days to get married. If you plan to apply for a green card afterward, it's best to schedule the ceremony sooner rather than later, to ensure you'll have enough time to put together the necessary paperwork for adjustment of status.

Having an experienced immigration attorney to guide both the U.S. citizen and a fiancé(e) from the beginning of this lengthy process can reduce the amount of waiting time and stress throughout this complicated process.

Do you have additional inquiries about the subject? Attorney Emmanuel V. Meimaris provides legal counsel on matters related to immigration, family law, real estate and business. Book a free consultation or call us at (781) 636-3636.

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