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Marrying a Foreign Citizen: What is a Fiancé Visa?

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By Jason Beahm on March 15, 2011 9:46 AM

We here at FindLaw get a lot of questions about immigration law and the fiancé visa

What is a fiancé visa? How do you get one? How do you apply? When do you apply? Since we're a nation of immigrants, there's never a shortage of immigration questions in this country.

But fear not, FindLaw is here to help. Below, you can read about the basic steps an individual coming to the United States to get married to an American citizen needs to follow.

Under U.S. immigration law, there is a nonimmigrant visa classification called a K-1 which is designed for the fiancé of an American citizen that is coming to the United States to marry. First, the American citizen must file Form I-129F, Petition for Relative or fiancé in the place having jurisdiction over petitioner's residence.

If the I-129F is approved, it will be forwarded by INS to the American consulate where the fiancé visa application will be filed. If the petition is approved, the consulate will notify you and provide the forms and instructions to apply for the K-1 visa, which generally must be done within four months. Also, you must be legally able and willing to marry in the U.S. and have met in person within the past two years, though this requirement may be waived based on long-standing custom or extreme hardship. (This is designed to be a roadblock to mail-order brides.)

Last, but not least, comes the interview.

If everything goes smoothly in the interview, a fiancé visa will be issued, which allows for one entry into the U.S. during a six-month period. You must marry within ninety days after you are granted entry to the U.S or the fiancé will be subject to removal from the country. After the marriage, you need to apply to adjust to permanent resident status.

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