When a foreign national wishes to marry a U.S. citizen, there are two choices. They can get married in that country, or the fiancé can obtain a K-1 nonimmigrant visa which allows entry into the United States for purposes of getting married within 90 days of the date of entry.
Definition of a Fiancé
According to the law in the United States, a foreign fiancé of a citizen of the U.S. is a person who received an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé form I-129F who has been issued a K-1 visa to the purposes of marrying the person named in the petition. Both of the individuals must be legally free to marry when the petition was filed and thereafter. The general rule is that they must have met in person within the last two years, and they must comply with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act.
Filing the I-129F Petition
It’s the United States citizen who will be sponsoring the foreign national who he or she intends on marrying. That U.S. citizen must file the I-129F Petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in the area that the sponsor lives in. It cannot be filed in the U.S. embassy, consulate or USCIS office in the foreign national’s country. Assuming the petition is approved, it’s forwarded to the National Visa Center and to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where the foreign national lives. The National Visa Center will then notify the sponsor of when the foreign national can apply for a K-1 visa.
Documents Required from the Foreign National
At the time of the foreign national’s visa interview, he or she must bring the following forms and documents:
- Completed and printed form DS-160 online nonimmigrant visa application.
- Your passport valid for travel to the U.S. that is valid for at least six months beyond the time of your expected stay in the U.S.
- Your birth certificate.
- Divorce, annulment or death certificates.
- A police certificate from the foreign national’s country or any other country where he or she las lived in for at least six months since the age of 16 showing no criminal record.
- An appropriate medical examination certificate.
- Evidence of financial support. This may or may not be required.
- Two 2 x 2 inch passport photos.
- Evidence of a valid relationship with the U.S. citizen who you intend to marry.
- Payment of all applicable fees.
- Translations of any documents that aren’t in the foreign national’s language.
- Anything else that the USCIS might want.
Arrival at Your U.S. Port of Entry
Upon issuance of your visa, the foreign national will be given a sealed packet that you are
not allowed to open. Only U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel are allowed to open it. The fact that the foreign national is at a port of entry to the U.S. doesn’t guarantee admission. That’s up to the sole discretion of Customs and Border Protection personnel. Be ready to provide the appropriate person your passport, visa and the unopened packet that was given to you that contains your documents. After that, you’ll likely be permitted to legally enter the United States.
If you intend on bringing a child or children with you, a K-2 visa is appropriate. Different requirements apply. Whether a foreign national will be seeking a K-1 or K-2 visa, it can be a complicated, confusing and exhausting process. Our lawyers here at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers are here to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We want to see you get married and raise a family here in the United States.