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How to Get a Fiancé Visa

The process is simple, but not a permanent solution

The fiancé, or K-1 nonimmigrant, visa, is for a foreign-citizen fiancé of a United States citizen. If the goal of the U.S. citizen and their fiancé is to live together in the U.S. permanently, obtaining the K-1 visa is only the first step in a two-step process.

“Fiancé visas are meant to bring someone who is overseas into the U.S. with the express purpose of getting married within 90 days,” says Jason Karavias, an immigration attorney in Pennsylvania. “And then there is a subsequent, separate, green card case inside the U.S.”

Requirements for Fiancé Visas

The U.S. citizen must file a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring the foreign fiancé to the U.S. Both persons—the U.S. citizen and the foreign fiancé—must be free to marry. That means they must be single or divorced, and the marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place.

Further, the U.S. citizen and the fiancé must have met each other, in person, during the two years prior to filing the petition. “What that means, is that you normally can’t apply for someone you just met online. You have to physically meet them,” says Karavias. “And file proof of it like photographs or plane tickets, stamps, things like that.”

If the petition is approved, it’s transferred to the U.S embassy in the applicant’s country. Next, an interview is held with a consular officer there, “who reviews their case and asks questions about their relationship,” says Karavias. “They expect to see proof of the relationship. What’s common is social media, emails, texts, WhatsApp, facetime, chats—all that stuff.”

To convince the consular officer, Karavias notes that the best evidence is proving you’ve had a long-term relationship. He cites several examples, including:

  • many months of chats
  • proof of several visits together
  • many photos together, or photos with each other’s families
  • joint financial accounts
  • proof of financial support
  • joint real property
  • children together

Substantial proof of a relationship is not always common, though. “I see all different types of fiancé visas,” he says. “I see people who have been dating for seven years, and I see people who have met one time at a resort and they spend a couple days together, and want to marry. As long as you can prove it’s a real relationship, you’re in contact, and you’re eligible, it can work.”

Will the K-1 lead to permanent residence?

Once married, to be able to stay in the U.S. and work, the fiancé must obtain permanent residence—aka a green card. To do so, the fiancé must apply to adjust their status from a K-1 visa holder to that of a lawful permanent residence. USCIS advises that the visa holder apply for adjustment as soon as possible after the marriage.

The process is not guaranteed, however. “There’s two things you’ll have to prove to simplify [the process],” says Karavias. “You’ll have to prove that you have a bona fide marriage, which means that you’re marrying for real love and companionship, not simply to help someone obtain an immigration benefit.” The other issue to prove is that the fiancé is eligible—which you can do by demonstrating there are no grounds for inadmissibility. This includes criminal history, immigration fraud and being a communicable disease carrier, among other reasons.

To put yourself in the best position to gain permanent residence, and prepare yourself for the K-1 visa process, speak with an experienced Pennsylvania immigration attorney early on. 

For more information on this area of law, see our immigration overview.

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