Love has been called a universal language and for good reason; for thousands of years men and women have been marrying people from other countries, and this is especially a common practice for military personnel, people who frequently travel abroad, and for people who fall in love with an immigrant here in the United States.
Contrary to popular belief, marrying a U.S. citizen is not an automatic path to U.S. citizenship and, while it may shorten the naturalization process, an immigrant does not become a U.S. citizen the moment they marry a U.S.-born citizen, for they too must follow the proper procedures to citizenship before they can become fully legal.
Fiancé Visa Process & Requirements
The Fiance K-1 Visa allows US citizens to bring their non-US citizen spouse to the country for marriage. You must first file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). After the petition is approved, you must apply for the K-1 visa at a US consulate and complete the required documentation, examination, and interview. Once the K-1 visa is issued, your non-US citizen spouse may enter the country.
In your petition for your K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you must prove:
- That you are a U.S. citizen;
- That you intend to marry your fiancé within 90 days of he or she entering into the United States;
- That both you and your fiancé are free to marry and any previous marriages have been terminated by annulment, divorce, or death; and
- That you met the other person at least one time within 2 years of filing the petition.
For requirement #4, there are two exceptions that require a waiver:
- Where the requirement to meet in person would violate the strict and long-established customs of either you or your fiancé.
- If you can prove that the requirements to meet would cause undue hardship upon you.
Once the fiancé visa is issued or the K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé will be allowed to enter the United States for 90 days so you can have your marriage ceremony. Once you are officially married, your spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the U.S. while the USCIS processes their application.
Relative & Alien Relative Petitions
Another way you can help your non-U.S. citizen fiancé become a citizen or permanent resident is to marry them overseas. If you get married overseas, you can file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for your new husband or wife.
If your fiancé already lives here in the United States and are in another lawful immigration status and you wish to marry here in the U.S., then you should obtain information about filing an I-130 Relative Petition after you get married.
Get the Help of an Immigration Attorney
If you are getting married to a U.S. citizen or if you are a U.S. citizen who is planning to marry a non-U.S. citizen, it's important to learn about U.S. immigration laws and which path would suit you and your future spouse the best. Please contact an immigration lawyer from Brown Immigration Law to obtain more information on fiancé visas and 1-130 relative petitions; we look forward to assisting you and your fiancé during this exciting time in your lives.