Citizens of the United States who are married or engaged to foreign nationals have the option to bring their partners to the U.S. as a spouse or as a fiancée, as a recent article from the NY Daily News recently discussed. In a situation where a U.S. citizen is engaged to a foreign national, he or he has the option to marry the fiancée in another country and apply for a spouse visa, or wait to marry and petition for a fiancée visa.
The Daily News article said that while both options work, it may be quicker to apply for a fiancée visa. Of course, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to get a fiancée visa. For one, the couple has to have had at least one face-to-face meeting in the two years before the U.S. citizen files for the petition. But there are some expcetions to this rule offered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
For example, there may be an exception if traveling out of the country is difficult for the U.S. citizen, perhaps if the U.S. citizen suffers from an illness. Another exception may be granted if meeting face-to-face before the wedding would go against the customs of the U.S. citizen's religion or culture.
To prove that the before-wedding face-to-face meeting has taken place, it is recommended that the U.S. citizen applying for the fiancée visa attach a plane ticket or other evidence to the USCIS form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancée.
After the USCIS has approved the fiancée visa it will send the petition to the U.S. consul in the country where the fiancée resides. If the consul approves a visa, the fiancée has 90 days to come to the United States. After the couple is married, the non-citizen spouse can apply for permanent residency immediately.
Interestingly, the proposed immigration reform bill would change current law by also allowing U.S. permanent residents to petition for a fiancée visa.
Source: NY Daily News, "IMMIGRATION: A foreign fiancée can come to the U.S. more quickly using a fiancé(e) visa," Allan Wernick, May 22, 2013