US citizens can bring a foreign fiancé into the country by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. This initial form is the precursor to helping your fiancé obtain a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, also called a fiancé visa. After successfully obtaining a fiancé visa and entering the country, your fiancé can then apply for permanent US residency after the marriage.
Basic requirements for a fiancé visa
You must be a US citizen in order to assist your fiancé in immigrating to the US through marriage. In addition to that requirement, you and your fiancé also must be legally permitted to marry each other in the US. That means that any prior marriages should have been terminated already before you apply for a fiancé visa.
The marriage must be valid
Another requirement for applying for a fiancé visa is that the marriage is a valid one. Immigration officials look to weed out marriages that may have been set up for the sole purpose of obtaining permanent residency in the US. The applicants for a fiancé visa must have an intention to spend their life together, and they must plan to wed within 90 days of the foreign applicant’s entry into the country.
Unless a foreign fiancé’s culture strongly discourages it, the couple applying for a fiancé visa must have met each other in person at least one time within the past two years. Other than cultural exemptions, one other way to get out of the in-person meeting requirement is to show that the meeting would have caused extreme hardship to the US petitioner.
Many steps to the process
The process of petitioning for a fiancé visa and then applying for permanent residency has many steps. During each stage of the process, including inspection at a US port of entry, the official that is reviewing your fiancé’s documents could make the decision to deny the petition. It is vital that every part of the process be completed thoroughly so that officials can find no reason to question your petition for family immigration.