I am a U.S. Citizen – How Do I Help my Fiancé Become a U.S. Permanent Resident?
A U.S. citizen who wishes to marry a non-U.S. citizen or permanent resident can help their fiancé obtain permanent resident status in different ways. One way is to apply for a fiancé visa if your fiancé is overseas and you want to marry in the U.S. This visa lets your fiancé enter the U.S. for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place in the U.S. Once you marry, your spouse can apply for permanent residence and remain in the U.S. while we process the application. If the petition is approved, USCIS will send the file to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will process and forward it to the U.S> Embassy or consulate nearest your fiancé’s foreign place of residence. The embassy or consulate will then invite him or her to apply for the actual fiancé visa.
Another way is to marry your fiancé overseas. If you marry overseas, you can file the petition for your new spouse in the U.S. If your fiancé is already in the U.S. in another legal immigration status and you want to marry in the U.S. then you may file a relative petition after you marry.
The basic eligibility requirements for a fiancé petition:
- You must be a U.S. citizen to file a fiancé petition. In your petition, you must show that:
- You are a U.S. citizen
- You and your fiancé intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé entering the U.S.
- You are both free to marry; and
- You have met each other in person within 2 years before you file this petition. However, there are two exceptions which require a waiver:
- If the requirement to meet your fiancé in person would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé’s foreign culture or social practice; or
- If you prove that the requirement to personally meet your fiancé would result in extreme hardship to you.
If I choose the fiancé visa option, how does my fiancé obtain permanent resident status?
Your fiancé will need to enter the U.S. with a fiancé visa. Once admitted to the U.S. with a K-1 visa, your fiancé will be authorized to stay for 90 days during which you are permitted to marry. As soon as you marry, your spouse may apply for permanent residence.
My fiancé has a child. May the child come to the U.S. with my fiancé?
If the child is under 21 years old and is not married, a K-2 visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of your fiancé’s children on your petition.
Can my fiancé work in the U.S. while on a fiancé visa?
After admission, your fiancé may immediately apply for permission to work. Any work authorization would be valid for only 90 days after entry. However, your fiancé would also be eligible to apply for an extended work authorization at the same time as he or she files for permanent residence. In this case, your fiancé would file the employment authorization with the adjustment application as soon as you marry.
What if my fiancé uses a different kind of visa or enters as a visitor without a visa, to come here so we can marry?
If your fiancé is in the U.S. and entered using a visa other than a fiancé visa, and you marry, then you may file a relative petition for him or her as your spouse.
If your fiancé is in the U.S. and entered unlawfully, in most cases he or she will not be able to adjust status to that of a permanent resident while in the U.S. In this situation, once you marry, you may file a relative petition for him or her as your spouse. If approved, he or she will have to pursue an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or consulate overseas. BEWARE THAT IF YOUR FIANCE LEAVES THE U.S., SHE MAY TRIGGER THE UNLAWFUL PRESENCE THREE (3) OR TEN (10) YEAR BAR.
We are engaged, but have not yet decided to marry. What do we do?
The fiancé visa is a temporary visa that simply permits your fiancé to enter the U.S. so that the two of you may marry in the U.S within the 90 days permitted from the date of entry. It is not a way for you to bring a person to the U.S. so you can get to know one another, or spend more time together to decide whether or not you want to marry.
What happens if we do not marry within 90 days?
Fiancé status automatically expires after 90 days. It cannot be extended. Your fiancé should leave the U.S. at the end of the 90 days if you do not marry. If your fiancé does not depart, he or she would violate U.S. immigration law. This could affect future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits.
We want to make plans for our wedding. How long will this process take?
Each case is different. Fiancé petitions are processed in the order they are received. Once processing is completed, the approved petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will send the petition to the U.S. Embassy or consulate, which will need time to process your fiancé for a visa. You may check the USCIS website for current processing times for fiancé petitions.
Do you have more questions about a fiancé visa? Contact us today!