You met someone on your last trip abroad and started a long-distance relationship. Now you’ve decided to get married, and your fiance plans to move to the U.S. What’s the process?
Like any immigration process, expect lots of paperwork and perhaps some frustrating delays. However, if you understand what needs to be done and follow the necessary steps, you can save both of you some time and stress.
As long as you are a U.S. citizen, your fiance can likely immigrate to the U.S. on a K-1 visa (also known as a fiance visa) until you’re married. The marriage must occur with 90 days of their date of arrival in the U.S. Once you’re married, your spouse can seek to become a permanent resident – commonly known as obtaining a green card.
K-1 visas are issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is also involved.
The only other requirements are that neither of you is currently married to anyone else and that the two of you have seen each other in person at least once in the two years before the visa application is made. Under exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to get that last condition waived.
The person who’s a U.S. citizen begins the process by filing a petition with USCIS. You’ll need to provide a number of documents and information, including proof of your relationship and that you’ve seen each other within the required 2-year period.
If the petition is approved, that agency will forward it to the U.S. Embassy or the Consulate in your fiance’s country. Someone there will interview them and they’ll apply for the visa at that point. If the visa is approved, they have 60 days to move to the U.S.
Of course, rarely is everything smooth sailing when it comes to immigration. Any number of issues can cause complications. It’s always wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you anticipate and resolve issues.