This is a very common question we receive all the time, “How do I get my fiancé a visa to come to the United States?” Should my fiancé come over on a visitor visa and then we will get married? Should I file a fiancé visa for her to come over and then we get married? These are all very good questions, and the answers very much depend on the facts surrounding each case.
Lets start with a brief overview of United States visas available for domestic relationships. If a U.S. citizen is married to someone who is not a citizen, the U.S. citizen can file an I-130 Petition for their spouse, which if approved, will provide the spouse with a visa and an opportunity to apply for a green card immediately. If a lawful permanent resident is married to someone who is not a citizen or lawful permanent resident, the process is the same, but once the I-130 is approved, there will be a wait of potentially several years before the spouse can apply for their green card.
If you are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and your fiancé lives in another country, sorry but you are out of luck. There is no visa available for the fiancé of a lawful permanent resident. You will either to apply to become a citizen and then file for a fiancé visa, or you will have to get married before you file the I-130 for your spouse.
Now we are to the question at hand; what if I am a U.S. citizen and my fiancé lives in another country? Can I file a visa petition to get that person into the United States? The answer is, YES, if you can fulfill or excuse away, certain requirements. First off, the Petition you would file for your fiancé is called an I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (here is a link to the form from USCIS: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-129f.pdf).
In order to file this form for your fiancé, 1) you must be a U.S. citizen (born or naturalized), 2) you intend to get married within 90 days of when your fiancé is ultimately admitted into the United States, and 3) you have met your fiancé IN PERSON, in the two years before you file the petition.
Seem pretty simple, right? If you meet all three of these requirements, and can afford the $340 filing fee, correctly fill out government forms and supply the necessary evidence, then you should be good to go. But what if your fiancé has children, can they come too? What if we are not going to get married within 90 days? What if you have never actually met your fiancé in person?
I recommend at least consulting with an experienced and trusted immigration attorney before trying to take on any immigration challenges (check out my experience here: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html). Better yet, hire an immigration attorney to guide you through the process and handle everything for you. Its not really that expensive when you think about the fact that if you take on the case yourself and mess up, your fiancé may not be able to get a visa or could be permanently banned from coming into the United States or getting a green card.
Lets start with the children of your fiancé; you can petition for them too, at the same time as your fiancé. The children must be unmarried, under the age of 21 at the time of the petition and be listed on the I-129F Petition. Just like your fiancé, if the petition is approved, and they all travel to the U.S., and you and your fiancé get married within the required 90 days, they can all apply to get their green cards. However, just like with your fiancé, if something happens and you do not get married within the 90 day period, both your fiancé and the children will likely be barred from applying for their green cards and may have to return home to their country.
There are exceptions to every rule, including the requirement of getting married within 90 days and the bar to the children getting green cards if the marriage doesn’t happen in time. However, those exceptions are too complicated and case-specific to discuss here.
There is also an exception to the requirement that you have met your fiancé in person in the last two years before your file the petition. USCIS can waive this requirement if 1) the requirement “would violated strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé’s foreign culture or social practice;” or 2) the requirement would result in extreme hardship to you.
This exception is usually met in circumstances where religious beliefs do not allow for you and your fiancé to meet in person until you are married, or where you or your fiancé have a financial or physical disability which make it near impossible for either to travel great distances just to meet.
If your fiancé has a visitor visa already, and you are planning your wedding in the U.S., having your fiancé enter on the visitor visa with the intent to marry in the U.S. and file for adjustment of status here is a very bad idea. A visitor visa is a non-immigrant visa where you have to intend to leave the U.S. when you enter. If your fiancé’s intent is to stay forever, entering with a visitor visa is fraud and USCIS may deny any future green card applications because of it.
This visa is also not something I suggest for everyone who calls to inquire about applying for a fiancé visa. Sometimes, the U.S. citizen petitioner will say something like, I met this person in another country, not sure if I want to marry them, but they can’t get a visitor visa so I want to bring them in as my fiancé, see if it works out and then we may get married.
There are a whole host of problems with this scenario. If you are not sure you are going to marry the person, DO NOT file a fiancé visa for them. This is not an international dating visa, this is for people who are committed to each other and simply have not yet married, but are very close do closing the deal.
If you need an immigration attorney anywhere in the United States, but certainly if you live in Orlando or Jacksonville, please call Lasnetski Gihon Law.
If you have a fiancé in another country and want to discuss your options for getting them a visa, call us today to discuss your case.
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