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Immigration visas for foreign fiancés or fiancées

South Carolina residents may know that U.S. citizens who marry foreign nationals can petition United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for a visa, but they might not know that the process is different for a fiancé or fiancée and a husband or wife. Citizens who marry abroad must complete USCIS form I-130, Petition for Alien relative. Those who get engaged overseas but plan to marry in the United States must complete USCIS form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancée.

Those seeking a fiancée or fiancé visa must be able to prove to immigration authorities that they had at least one in-person meeting with their intended spouse within the two-year period prior to filing their USCIS form. This safeguard is in place to prevent marriages of convenience that are designed purely to circumvent U.S. immigration law. Exemptions are sometimes made for U.S. citizens who are unable to travel or where meeting prior to marriage would violate local customs or religious beliefs, but such cases are rare.

Before approving the petition, the immigration authorities must be satisfied that both parties are free to marry and that any previous marriages have legally ended. The couple must also marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé or fiancée entering the U.S. Once the petition has been approved, the foreign fiancé or fiancé must report to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to be interviewed by a consular official and undergo biometric screening. A K-1 visa will then be issued. Once the couple have married, the foreign fiancé or fiancée may apply for permanent residence in America.

The months leading up to a wedding can be a time of great happiness and significant stress. Experienced immigration attorneys could assist U.S. citizens who plan to marry a foreign national by answering their questions and helping them to navigate their way through an immigration process that can often seem bewildering and capricious.

Source: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Fiancé(e) Visas", July 17, 2015

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