Immigration and Marriage: A Brief Guide to the US Fiancé(e) Visa

Immigration and Marriage: A Brief Guide to the US Fiancé(e) Visa

Few things are more exciting in the lives of young couples than getting engaged. Finding the person to whom you want to commit the rest of your life is a beautiful thing, but those feelings of exaltation can quickly be replaced with frustration, fear, and uncertainty if your loved one is forced to struggle with immigration issues.

Whether you believe there is one perfect soul mate out there for everyone or that love is a product of circumstance and compatibility, what are you supposed to do if the person you fall in love with and become engaged to is from another country and does not have any form of legal residency in the US? The US immigration system is notoriously complex and your husband or wife-to-be cannot simply stop by the closest US embassy and pick up a green card. Certainly there is the potential for a marriage based residency petition, but what are you supposed to do prior to the marriage if you actually want to get married in the US where all of your loved ones can attend? Fortunately, there is a visa designation that is reserved for just such an occasion. The Fiancé(e) visa, known officially as the K-1 nonimmigrant visa, allows a foreign national to enter the US for a specific period of time if he or she is engaged to be married to a US citizen and the purpose of the visit to the US is to actually conduct the wedding ceremony. In order to be eligible, the petitioner (the US citizen) must demonstrate that they are indeed a US citizen, that they intend to marry their fiancé(e)--the subject of the petition--within 90 days of his or her arrival to the US, and that both parties are legally free to marry, meaning they are unencumbered by a previous marriage or other legal condition that would preclude them from legal marriage in the US. To prove that the couple intends to marry, they will likely need to show evidence such as correspondence, an engagement ring, or contracts with vendors for the impending wedding. The couple should also show that they met at least once in person within the past two years. If this violates the couple's strict cultural customs or if meeting would entail extreme hardship for one or the other, then they may seek a waiver of this requirement.

Once the fiancé(e) visa is issued and the subject of the visa enters the US and once the couple actually marries, the non-US citizen spouse may apply for a green card and remain in the US while their application is processed. If for any reason the couple does not marry within the 90 day limit for the fiancé(e) visa, the non-US citizen must exit the country or risk penalties for violating US immigration law.

Children of the non-US citizen fiancé(e) may accompany their mother or father to the US with a K-2 nonimmigrant visa.

Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a K-1 visa for your fiancé(e) can be an unpredictable and sometimes drawn out process, so it is vital that you plan far ahead for your future spouse's entry to the US for your wedding. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney like those at Landerholm Immigration to help ensure that you are able to have the wedding you've always dreamed of and avoid any immigration issues that could potentially ruin your special day.
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