The Fiancé Visa Process
Immigration law is a complex branch of the U.S. legal system, as multiple specific requirements have to be met for any person to lawfully enter and remain in the United States. Our office often works with residents in the U.S.—green card holders and citizens alike—who seek to bring their fiancés or spouses into the country so that they can live together. The criteria for bringing a partner into the U.S. are more lenient than those for unmarried immigrants, but the fact remains that there are strict rules in place to determine who is and is not eligible for entry. The videos below will further explain the requirements that you must meet if you want to bring your fiancé(e) or new spouse to the U.S. and begin your lives as a married couple, side by side.
I Received My Green Card Through a Previous Marriage. Can I Sponsor My New Spouse?
This is a complicated question to answer. Immigration generally holds to the rule that, if you got your green card through marriage, you must wait five years until you can convey any sponsorship benefits on a subsequent spouse. There are several exceptions, one of which involves demonstrating that your first marriage was in fact bona fide and not performed merely to avoid immigration laws. The most common example of evidence for this argument is birth certificates of children born during this marriage. The second exception would entail the death of the first spouse, in which case there would be no issue of bona fide. But in general, if you did not have any children together, and if your marriage was terminated through divorce and not death, then you must wait five years before you can sponsor your spouse-to-be. You can get married at any time, but it will not be possible to get approval from immigration if you do not wait five years.
The Requirements for Bringing Your Fiancé(e) to the U.S.
In order to bring someone to the U.S. on a fiancé visa, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen—not a green card petitioner—and the couple must have met in person within the previous two years. It cannot be a romance over the Internet or on the phone. In addition, the petitioner must demonstrate that he or she can support the fiancé and that the fiancé will thus not become a public charge. There will have to be a lot of documentation that it is a bona fide relationship based on love rather than the desire to bring someone to the U.S. as a friend. If you accumulate all these documents, you will have no issue bringing your fiancé over to the U.S. The petitioner often attends the interview with immigration, as this lends credence to that fact that it is a real relationship.
Obtaining Permanent Resident Status for Your Fiancé(e)
We often help clients obtain fiancé visas for their sweethearts abroad, who then come into the U.S. on a K1 visa. The next question is: What do we do now? It is important to remember that, within 90 days of entering the U.S., you must get married in order to keep the fiancé visa alive. You marry within 90 days, and then you file the adjustment of status paperwork with the local immigration service. In approximately three or four months’ time, you will be scheduled for your spouse interview. Assuming that all goes well and you bring with you lots of bona fide documentation of your marriage, proving that your marriage is real and not just a friendship, your immigration interview will go well, and the adjustment of status will be approved.
Can I Obtain a Fiancé Petition for a Significant Other if I Have Never Met Her or Him in Person?
Sadly, no. The requirements for a fiancé visa are as follows: you must be a U.S. citizen in order to file for a fiancé visa for your partner, and you and your fiancé must have met in person within the last two years. That latter requirement is almost never waived. I always encourage any citizen who is serious with someone to plan a trip, get on a plane, take a lot of pictures, and meet the fiancé’s family because you will have to prove to immigration when you file a fiancé visa that you have met in person within the last two years, and you have to show that the relationship is bona fide. All these pictures, receipts, and passport stamps are all perfect evidence of a bona fide relationship.