US Fiancé(e) Visa Requirements

If you are planning to marry a US national in the United States, you will in most cases need to secure a fiancé visa for the USA.

There are several immigration options to consider if you are marrying a US citizen, including the fiancé visa which will be appropriate if your plans are to travel to the US to get married there.

Below we look at frequently asked questions in relation to this type of visa, from what this is to how much it costs.

What is a Fiancé Visa?

The US Fiancé Visa, known officially as the K-1 visa, is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiancé(e) of a US citizen to enter the United States for up to 90 days for the purpose of getting married.

Thereafter, the spouse of the US citizen is then able to apply to adjust their immigration status to that of a lawful permanent resident of the United States by applying for a green card through marriage.

In the event that you have any unmarried children under the age of 21, the Fiance Visa USA will also allow you to make an application on their behalf for their own visa to accompany you to the United States. The child of a K-1 visa holder will need to apply for a K-2 visa.

What does a Fiancé Visa USA not allow?

In the event that the wedding is delayed beyond 90 days, your fiancé visa will automatically expire. Unfortunately, this type of visa cannot be extended and, as such, you may be required to leave the country.

You will need to ensure, therefore, that any wedding plans are firm, and that you get married within the permitted timeframe. 

In the event that you decide not to get married, you will be required to leave the country. You also must marry the K-1 petitioner and no one else in order to remain in the United States.

Fiancé(e) visa requirements

To be eligible for the K-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your fiancé(e) is a US citizen.
  • You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your admission to the United States.
  • You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry, ie; any previous marriages have been terminated by divorce, death or annulment.
  • You and your fiancé(e) have met each other in person at least once within the two year period immediately prior to any petition being filed on your behalf, unless meeting in person would either result in extreme hardship or would violate strict customs of your foreign culture.

Further, you must have a bona fide intent to establish a life with your US fiancé(e), whereby the marriage must not be for the sole purpose of being able to obtain a green card.

How to apply for a fiancé(e) visa

To apply for a Fiance Visa USA your US fiancé(e) will first need to file a petition on your behalf with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-129F (Petition For Alien Fiancé(e)), together with the relevant fee.

The petition will also need to be supported by various documents to prove your eligibility as a fiancé(e).

The documentation will need to include evidence of the US citizenship of your fiancé(e), termination of any previous marriages, your intention to marry in 90 days of entry and any in-person meetings. Your fiancé(e) will also need to provide a colour passport-style photograph of each of you.

Once the petition is approved, you will need to submit your visa application online using Form DS-160, together with the relevant fee. You will also need to schedule an interview appointment with the US Embassy or consulate where you reside.

You will need to take a number of documents with you to your interview, including but not limited to the confirmation page of your Form DS-160 and your passport valid for travel for at least six months, as well as evidence that your relationship with your US fiancé(e) is genuine.

The interviewing consular officer will ask you various questions relating to the nature of your relationship, including how you met and how the relationship has subsequently progressed. You will also be asked what your intentions are when you travel to the United States, in particular, whether you intend to live a life together with your new spouse.

Fiancé(e) visa processing times

Once the petition is submitted, a Form I-797 Notice of Action will be issued, acknowledging receipt of the petition. Thereafter, it could take several weeks, and in some cases months, to process.

The processing times for Form I-129F will also vary depending on where the petition has been filed and the impact of COVID restrictions on application processing and service availability.

Unfortunately, as with some visa categories, you cannot pay extra to expedite your petition being approved through premium processing.

In the event that the application and documentation in support satisfy the case officer that you are eligible for a fiancé(e) visa, the approved petition will be forwarded to your local US Embassy or consulate. An approval notice will be issued to indicate that the petition has been approved.

For how long is a fiancé(e) visa valid for?

If your application for a fiancé(e) visa is successful, it will remain valid for a period of up to six months for a single entry to the United States.

Within 90 days of entering the United States, you must have legally got married to your visa sponsor.

It is also worth remembering that once the visa petition has been filed, this also has a short expiry date, in that it will only remain valid for a period of four months. Once granted, you will therefore need to ensure that you act quickly to file your application for your visa.

How much does a fiancé(e) visa cost?

The fee for filing the petition using Form I-129F is $510. The fee for filing your online application form for a Fiance Visa USA is $535.

In the event that you decide to stay in the United States after you have married, rather than returning to your home country to start married life with your new spouse there, you will also need to pay a fee of at least $1,225 for Form I-485 to adjust your status to that of a lawful permanent residence.

Can K-1 visa holders work in the US?

In respect of employment, if you are thinking about working in the United States before you get married, under a K-1 visa you will be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), although this may not be processed within the 90-day time limit. You will also need to apply for new employment authorisation after the marriage.

You must renew your EAD to be able to work until you become a permanent resident, at which time your green card will be proof of eligibility to work.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.