Marriage Is A Big Step . . .
Especially When You Live In Different Countries
Often, our clients are citizens who want to immigrate and bring the person they love to live with them in the United States.
- Maybe you’re a U.S. citizen engaged to your future wife whom you met during your vacation in another country.
- Perhaps while you were working overseas, you feel in love with and already married the woman of your dreams.
- Or your future spouse has children from a previous marriage and you want to raise them as part of your family unit.
Both fiancé and fiancée are French words. The two words confuse many English speakers.
- Fiancé (with one “e”) is a man who is engaged to be married.
- Fiancée (with two “e’s”) is a woman who is engaged to be married.
For the sake of simplicity, we primarily use Fiancé on this page. The rules discussed here apply equally to both males and females engaged to be married.
K-1 Visas: Fiancé Visas
A fiancé visa allows U.S. citizens to bring their future spouses, who live in another country, into the United States in order for the couple to get married.
You Must Be A U.S. Citizen
Whether you were born in the U.S. or obtained your citizenship through the naturalization, derivation, or acquisition process, you are eligible to immigrant your future spouse through the fiancé visa process.
If you are only a permanent resident, you do not qualify to use the fiancé visa process.
You And Your Fiancé Must Intend To Get Married Within 90 Days
Once your fiancé enters the U.S., you and your fiancé have 90 days to marry and apply for permanent residency.
This means, to qualify for the K-1 visa, you need to show you have made some marriage plans. Since you do not know exactly when the visa will be approved, some of the details will not be specific.
However, letters from companies which cater weddings, print shops which produce wedding invitations, and halls which host wedding receptions can help prove your seriousness.
Notarized letters from you and your fiancé are also helpful.
You Must Have Met With Your Fiancé Within The Past Two Years
Nowadays, many couples meet over the internet. If this is the case, you need to arrange to meet with your loved one prior to filing immigration documents.
Again, the government requires firm evidence of this meeting. Items which are useful to show such a meeting actually took place include:
- Hotel and lodging receipts
- Airplane tickets, receipts, and departure/landing schedules
- Copies of your passport with stamps showing entries and exits
- Credit card statements showing payments
- Photos taken together during your visit
- Restaurant, transportation, parking tickets, and similar items
In some limited situations, you may be excused from this requirement. For example, in some cultures, a husband and wife cannot meet before their marriage date. Or perhaps a medical or physical condition prevents you from traveling abroad.
You And Your Fiancé Must Be Lawfully Eligible To Marry
Here are the most common stumbling blocks:
- You or your fiancé is under 18 years old.
- You or your fiancé has been previously married
- You and your fiancé are related by blood
You Must Meet The Minimum Income Requirements
You must agree to be your fiancé’s financial sponsor. If you do not meet the government’s income requirements, you can ask a relative or friend to serve as your fiancé’s financial co-sponsor.
Your Fiancé Must Not Fall Into Any Of The Inadmissibility Categories
The inadmissibility list includes certain diseases, criminal convictions, memberships in certain organizations, past history of immigration fraud, living unlawfully in the U.S., and drug trafficking.
The Future Of Fiancé Visas
As part of the Trump Administration’s cutbacks on family immigration – under the guise of chain migration – the fiancé visas program has started to come under attack.
It is anticipated that stricter requirements and tighter evaluations will likely be imposed on those who apply for fiancé visas.
Over the past decade, the countries with the K-1 visa seekers has been fairly consistent. This graph below shows the statistics from the previous two years.
Those nations with the highest amount of K-1 grantees, of course, are the nations with the greatest risk of being subject to new regulations, if not cut off completely.
K-2 Visas: Your Fiancé’s Minor Children
If your fiancé has children born in another country, even if they are not your biological children, they may be able to join your fiancé on a K-2 visa. The children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried.
To qualify, they must go through the same process as your fiancé. In addition, you must be able to financially sponsor them, as well as your fiancé.
Marriage Visa vs Fiancé Visa: Which Path Is The Best Way To Get A Marriage-Based Green Card?
Quite often, we’re asked by couples who want to spend their lives together, “What is the best path to permanent residency for my spouse?”
- Sometimes the couple is already married, other times they’re planning to get married.
- Sometimes the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen, other times a permanent resident.
- Sometimes the immigrant lives in the U.S., other times in their home country.
Each answer leads to a potentially different course of action which the couple can take.
The following chart lays out how these issues can vary from couple-to-couple. .
Frequently Asked Fiancé Visa Questions
I am going to marry a person who lives in another country. I also want to sponsor him for a green card. Does it matter where we get married?
If you want to get married in the United States, you will need to file a K-1 fiancé visa for your future spouse. If you want to marry in the home country of your fiancée, you will need to file an immigrant visa. There is another possibility. Your fiancé could enter the U.S. on a visitor (B-2) visa, and then you can marry here. In this case, your fiancé must return home after the marriage.
Which way is faster to allow us to live together in the United States – a fiancé visa or an immigrant visa?
There is no clear answer. The time it takes to process a fiancé visa is different from case-to-case, country-to-country. Yet, a fiancé visa is often quicker to process than an application for an immigrant visa. The government agency, USCIS, which processes immigration visas, has a heavy workload and sometimes takes longer to process the immigrant visa paperwork.
After my fiancé arrives here, can we delay the marriage date?
No. Once your fiancé arrives, you have 90 days to get married. If this does not take place, your fiancé must return to his home country.
After we get married, does my spouse automatically become a citizen?
No. As a U.S. citizen, you cannot transfer your citizenship to your new spouse. But you can file documents seeking lawful permanent resident status for him or her.
Nearing The End: K-3 And K-4 Visas
K-3 Visas: Marriage Visas
If you are a U.S. citizen and already married to someone living in another country, you can apply for a K-3 visa.
A K-3 visa permits your wife or husband to enter and reside in the United States until the immigration process is complete.
In order for the foreign spouse of a U.S citizen to qualify for a K-3 visa, certain requirements must be met, including the following:
Certain requirements for the K-3 visa are the same as the K-1 visa:
- You Must Be A U.S. Citizen
- You Must Meet The Minimum Income Requirements
- Your Wife Must Not Fall Into Any Of The Inadmissibility Categories
A few requirements are different.
Your Marriage Must Be Genuine
Before granting a K-3 visa, the U.S. government wants to be assured your marriage is real, not a sham.
As with K-1 visas, you will need to show items such as hotel and airplane receipts showing trips taken together or visits to see each other; copies of letters, emails, and phone bills showing communications with each other; photos taken together; and, statements from relatives and friends confirming your marital relationship.
Approved I-130 Petition
An I-130 petition is an immigration application to immigrate an immigrant family member. This form is used to document your relationship as husband and wife. Once this is approved, you can proceed with filing documents to obtain your spouse’s K-3 visa.
Historically, the K-3 and K-4 visas were helpful due to the long waiting times before your I-130 petition was approved. In recent years, as the time it takes for the I-130 approval has greatly shortened, the need to file K-3 and K-4 visas has become rare and may soon be phased out.
K-4 Visas: Your Spouse’s Minor Children
K-4 visas are similar to K-2 visas. If your spouse has children born in another country, even if they are not your biological children, they may be able to join your spouse through a K-4 visa. The children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried.
To qualify, they must go through the same process as your fiancé. In addition, you must be able to financially sponsor them, as well as your spouse.
Nationwide And Worldwide Fiancé And Spousal Visa Services
Helping bring and keep families together is the number one goal of attorney Carlos Batara’s immigration family-based visa, residency, and citizenship services. With roots from six different cultural lines, Carlos knows the challenges facing mixed immigration families.
As a result, Carlos has developed expertise in guiding immigrants through the K-1 fiancée visa and spousal visa processes through innovative immigration virtual law services.
By using traditional communications like e-mail, telephone, U.S. mail and fax — as well as advanced technology such as video-conferencing and online client files – we are able to assist you and your family wherever you live, with the same ease as if you lived next door.
In short, this approach allows our immigration offices to help your family, even if divided by state and national boundaries, in an efficient and cost-cutting manner.
So why wait any longer?
Whether you’re seeking a fiancé visa or marriage visa, schedule your appointment today …