A fiancé of a U.S. citizen may be eligible for a temporary visa to be able to enter the United States to marry. After admission to the U.S. with a “K-1” visa, the fiancé must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days and then can apply for permanent residency. The children of the fiancé may also qualify to get a temporary visa and then apply for their own green card. This category of visa also allows those who have already married a U.S. citizen in their home country the ability to enter the U.S. while their relative petition is pending. This visa is called a “K-3” Visa.
There are a few things the couple must show to qualify for a K-1 or K-3 visa. It can be complex and many people have been denied. Sometimes it is more advisable for the couple to get married first and then come over through a spousal petition. It depends on each individual situation which is why talking with a good immigration lawyer is advisable before you start the process.
Eligibility Requirements for Fiancé Petitions
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:
- If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
- If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.
After the Fiancé(e) Visa is Issued
Once issued, the fiancé(e) visa allows your fiancé(e) to enter the United States for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place. Once you marry, we then immediately apply for permanent residence while your fiancé remains in the United States. We will also apply for employment authorization and a travel permit.
Children of Fiancé(e)s
If your fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 nonimmigrant visa may be available to him or her.
Permission to Work
After admission, we can apply to get your fiancé(e) work authorization. Any work authorization based on a nonimmigrant fiancé (e) visa would only be valid for 90 days after entry, but we will also be able to apply for an extended work authorization at the same time as he or she files for permanent residence. In this case, we would file the application for work authorization at the same time we file the application for permanent residency as soon as you marry.
How long will this process take?
Each case is different but USCIS does not move fast. They will process fiancé(e) petitions in the order they receive them and will move at their speed, not yours. Once USCIS approves the petition it is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then send the petition to the U.S. Embassy or consulate, which will need time to process your fiancé(e) for a visa. It can be a long process of many months. Therefore, we do not recommend you make any specific wedding plans until your fiancé arrives in the United States.
The Law Office of Nathan Christensen has helped many couples obtain these visas and will be able to walk you through the entire process. Our goal is to ensure that your family can stay together or reunite as fast as possible.