How to help bring your foreign fiancé to the United States

the K-1 visa, visas for fiancés of United States citizens, one of the most sought-after visas.  GABRIEL BOISSAFP/Getty Images

the K-1 visa, visas for fiancés of United States citizens, one of the most sought-after visas. GABRIEL BOISSAFP/Getty Images

Once you overcome the hurdles of maintaining a long-distance relationship, starting the process of bringing a foreign fiancé to the United States becomes another challenge.

This process is not without problems, although they can always be avoided.

The legal path, complex, long and stressful, means not making small slips that can delay the process or mistakes that can create long-term immigration problems. There are oversights that affect a fiance’s visa application and mistakes that complicate permanent residency.

A US citizen who wants to marry a foreign national who is not in the US can help their fiancé get a green card in several ways.

One way is by applying for a K-1 visa, fiance visas of United States citizens, one of the most sought-after visas issued when a foreign national who is engaged to an American wants to enter the United States to get married . Another way is to marry the fiancé(es) abroad.

For immigration purposes, being engaged to your partner is not the same as having married before the foreign fiancé arrived in the US.

Steps of the K-1 visa process

Step One: The US citizen initiates the K-1 visa application by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien/Fiancé(s) with USCIS to sponsor and bring their alien couple in the US Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.

Step Two: After receiving approval from USCIS, which takes an average of 10 to 13 months to process the petition, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which sends the instructions to continue the process between an additional 3 to 4 weeks, and from there to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to the fiancé’s place of residence abroad so that the fiancé can apply for a K-1 visa.

Step Three: After obtaining this nonimmigrant visa, the marriage ceremony must take place within 90 days of arrival in the country.

Step Four: After they marry, foreign nationals can apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status through Form I-485.

Common mistakes

Before preparing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, review these problems that can be avoided during K-1 visa processing.

Many aliens file a poorly prepared petition with gaps in Form I-129F. Provide everything requested or USCIS will deny the application. Many times it is refused because it is not signed. Others for not providing accurate and truthful answers to the inquiry.

Read the I-129F instructions carefully to understand the purpose of the question and how the answers affect the outcome. Although you can resubmit, the process takes a significant amount of time.

Failure to provide adequate evidence of K-1 eligibility. Submit the tests requested in the requirements. In addition to “meeting” the conditions, the couple must provide evidence of eligibility and have a bona fide relationship that led to a marriage proposal. Examples of evidence are shared photos, travel itineraries to see each other, emails, messages via messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Skype or Telegram, among other social networks.

The lack of evidence delays the case and sometimes the refusal of a visa.

You must follow all the steps and financial requirements to sponsor an immigrant visa for a family member. John Moore Getty Images

Exceed the period of 90 days, from entering the US, and do not get married. You cannot survive this extremely short period of time to plan the wedding, get married, and complete the paperwork to adjust your permanent resident status. If you don’t, you may have problems applying for adjustment of status and even a denial of your green card application.

Failure to provide a valid affidavit of support. The Affidavit of Support (I-134) creates confusion for applicants. Fill the form with the sponsor’s correctly calculated minimum qualifying income along with their income.

And if the US citizen fiance doesn’t meet the income threshold, he or she may not qualify as a sole sponsor, so you’ll need to provide an eligible joint sponsor.

Getting married before the fiance arrives in the US is a mistake because the K-1 visa process has not yet been completed, delaying the foreign fiance’s arrival in the US by a year or more.

USCIS cautions that if the fiance entered the U.S. illegally, in most cases, he or she will not be able to adjust his or her status while in the country. In this case, the U.S. citizen will file a Foreign Relative Petition, which, if approved, is requested at the U.S. Embassy abroad.

If the foreign fiance enters the US as a visitor without a visa to get married, he can be in serious trouble, as this is considered immigration fraud.

You are not prepared for the K-1 interview at the embassy or consulate. Get ready to show that your commitment is genuine, based on love. Review the typical questions. Consular officials and USCIS are on the lookout for marriage fraud, although most people shouldn’t worry.

Additional questions may be asked if you get engaged very soon after meeting, there are significant cultural differences, a large age gap, different religions, no common language, and very little physical time spent together.

It doesn’t arrive in the US on time. K 1 visas are valid for a single entry for six months from the date of issue. After the period you have to start the process again or consular processing based on marriage.


Both the petitioner, the US citizen fiancé, and the beneficiary, the alien fiancé, must be unmarried with the intention of entering into a marital relationship.

Demonstrate that the alien is engaged to a US citizen.

The alien must prove that he intends to marry his partner living in the US within 90 days of his arrival in the country.

Prove the relationship you had with your American partner before the engagement and that you have been meeting in person for the past two years.

There are two exceptions: when the in-person meeting violates the strict customs of the foreign culture, and when it would make it extremely difficult for the American citizen to meet the fiancé in person before marriage.

The marriage must be solemnized in accordance with US law.

Be legally free to marry, that is, prove that previous marriages, if any, have been legally dissolved.

Meet the Income Requirement Proof of Ability to Support the Petitioner Using Form I-134, you must show that the sponsor’s income is 100 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

Documents and forms

A passport valid for at least six months beyond the non-US citizen’s intended period of stay in the US, unless there are specific agreements between countries with exceptions.

Two recent photos.

Approved Form DS-160.

Letter of scheduled interview at the embassy or consulate.

Approved Form I-129F.

Documents related to criminal records.

In case of previous marriages, it is necessary to provide divorce or death certificates, as the case may be.

Proof of kinship with the US citizen in question.

Documents for medical examinations. Record of Medical Examination and Immunization Sheet (I-693). Although immunizations are not mandatory, they will be required when status is adjusted to lawful permanent resident.

Fee payment receipt

Proof of health insurance coverage

A typical package for adjustment of status based on a K-1 record includes the forms Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status (I-485), Affidavit of Support (I-864), Application for Work Authorization (I-765 ) and travel document application (I-131).

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Isabel Olmos is a reporter for Public Service. At el Nuevo Herald, he has written stories for Trasfundo, Locales, Friday Magazine and Gallery 305 and has covered mainstream topics such as health, art, cooking and travel. He is a screenwriter of television documentaries. He holds a degree in Journalism from CEU San Pablo University in Valencia, Spain.

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