For U.S. citizens seeking to marry a foreign national in the U.S., the provisions for legally bringing a fiancé to the U.S. must be followed. The Immigration Service provides for such needs in the form of a fiancé visa, often referred to as a K-1. The actual application filing is done with the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).
While there is no legal limit to the number of fiancé visas issued each year, the number averages around 30,000 annually. While the process is not overly complicated or expensive, the first step for success is to select and work with an immigration attorney who is familiar with the K-1 visa application and approval requirements.
The second step to securing a visa for a fiancé includes several specific eligibility requirements. These include that the petitioner for the visa must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Get married within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the United States
- Be legally free to get married (as well as the fiancé), ensuring any previous marriage is properly terminated by formal annulment, death or divorce
- Must have met in person with the fiancé in person during the two years before the filing (unless this requirement is waived under special circumstances).
The third step, if there are children involved, is to meet the qualifications and include the submission of a K-2.
Properly Documenting the Petition
Most people find the use of an experienced immigration attorney extremely helpful in assembling all the proper documentation of the petition, the fourth step in the process. It is important to have all elements of the required documentation presented with the petition for timely processing. Just a few of those items include:
- A completed Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160.
- A valid passport
- Police certificates from the present country of residence of the fiancé.
- Proper medical exam
- Evidence of financial support
- Evidence of relationship between the two parties
There is currently a $535 filing fee for the petition and other fees and/or documentation may be required in certain circumstances. Since there is a firm 90-day deadline for marriage after the fiancé arrives, it is important to take the right steps throughout the process.