The ways and means of pursuing a fiancé visa

Q. I’ve been in a serious relationship with my partner, and we recently got engaged. I am a US citizen and live in the US, but my partner lives abroad and is not a US citizen. What makes sense for us to do?

A. If your fiancé resides overseas, and you intend to marry in the US, then the best option is to pursue a K visa, colloquially known as the fiancé visa. This particular visa provides couples with a pathway to live together in the United States and initiates the process for the foreign resident to obtain permanent residence. If you choose to pursue this route, you should know that your fiancé will spend some number of months unable to lawfully work after entering on the K visa. If you would rather get married first or discuss how that option would be different from the K visa, then please contact Rian.

There are two basic requirements that a couple must fulfill in order to submit Form I-129F, the USCIS application for the K visa. First, both members of the couple must be legally free to marry (i.e., not married to another person), and the couple must intend to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s admission to the US. Second, barring exceptional circumstances, the couple must have met each other in person within the last two years. Provided that you and your fiancé meet these requirements, then you can proceed to obtain the evidence to prove your eligibility, including proof of US citizenship, sworn statements signed by both individuals pledging intention to get married, termination of previous marriages, arrival-departure records if the fiancé previously entered the US, and record(s) of the in-person meeting. The filing fee as of this writing is $535.

When USCIS approves the I-129F petition for your fiancé, the second step of the process begins. At that point, USCIS forwards the case to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC assigns a new case number and sends along the petition to the US Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé lives. Your fiancé will need to submit the DS-160, Application for a Nonimmigrant Visa online in order to be scheduled for an interview at the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate.

Does your fiancé have minor children? No issue. Those children will be listed on the initial petition, and they will be eligible to apply for a visa based on their relationship to the principal beneficiary. Each eligible child will need to file a separate application and pay the filing fee.

After the interview, provided that all goes well, your fiancé will receive a visa to enter the US. Your fiancé must seek admission to the US while the visa is valid, and your fiancé needs to bring a sealed packet prepared by the consular officer, if they are provided with one. Once your fiancé arrives, you two have 90 days to marry, and once married, your spouse can submit an application for permanent residence.

This process can take some time, and it requires patience to navigate multiple immigration bureaucracies. We strongly recommend that you always contact the Rian Immigrant Center to schedule a consultation prior to preparing or submitting any immigration forms. If you would prefer to show up to one of our in-person legal clinics at various Boston Public Library branches to ask your questions, you can find more information on our website at riancenter.or/consultations.     

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform the general public, not to advise in individual cases. All law, including immigration law, is always subject to change. If you seek legal advice you can contact Rian’s immigration legal staff at 617-984-6542.