Thursday, January 20, 2011

Immigration Law - The Fiance Visa

By John DiMotto
Another visa that is immediately available for review and processing by the USCIS is the K-1 "fiance visa."
A fiance of a US citizen who will travel to the US to marry and take up indefinite residence after marriage maybe eligible for a fiance visa. There are four criteria that must be met:
1) One party is a US citizen.
2) Both parties are legally free to marry.
3) The parties have met in person at least once in the two years prior to filing the petition absent a waiver of the requirement.
4) The marriage will take place within 90 days of the fiance entering the US on the fiance visa.
If the four criteria are met, then:
1) The US citizen must file an I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiance) with USCIS. It can only be filed in the US. If the petition is approved,
2) It is then forwarded to NVC for additional processing. After it is processed and approved,
3) The petition is then sent to the Embassy having jurisdiction over the alien fiance where an interview of the alien fiance will take place. If the interview goes well and is approved by Embassy staff,
4) The K-1 visa will be issued and the alien fiance may immigrate to the US.
5) If the marriage takes place in a timely fashion, the now alien spouse must file an I-485 to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident. This conditional permanent residency is granted to ensure the marriage is not a sham. The alien spouse may not leave the US or work until the I485 is granted. If granted, the alien spouse can work. The "condition" is reviewed in approximately two years. If the "condition" is removed then regular permanent residency is granted which is good for ten years until the next review.
The timeline from when the I-129F is filed until it is granted by USCIS is approximately 5 - 6 months. Further, from the time the I-129F is forwarded to the Embassy until a final decision is made can be an additional 3 - 6 months.
The I-129F petitions are reviewed in the order they are received by USCIS. There is no quota on these petitions since the US recognizes the importance of expeditious processing of visas for a US citizen and his/her fiance. The US wants to spare long separations between fiances but it also wants to ensure that there truly is a relationship and bond between the fiances.


  1. "Expeditious," yeah that's what this process is...because 8-12 months is really quick. If they wanted to expedite this to an acceptable level for those involved they would create more jobs by hiring more people for USCIS and the NVC. Bonus: JOBS!!!

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  4. Bringing out fiancée becomes difficult for a person who is not permanently residing in the USA for it requires a person to be holding a permanent staying rights in order to apply for his or her spouse. Candidates applying for fiancé visa are asked to fill the I-129F petitions which is given preference by the US consuls as the country recognizes the importance of expeditious processing of visas for a US citizen and his/her fiancé.

  5. @Anonymous: The 8-12 month figure is not necessarily always the case. In my experience, if the petition and application are done properly (meaning by the petitioner/applicant/their attorney), it can take much less time.

    For example, I've had K-1 petitions approved in under 3 months. I've also had instances where the whole fiance(e) visa process (from original filing of the petition to the actual granting of the K-1 visa) was under 6 months. It varies, and can take longer, of course, but long waiting times are not necessarily due to a lack of staff--sometimes there is just additional background or other processing that needs to be done.

    I do think that the old phrase holds true though: "Assume the worst, hope for the best."

    Better to think the K-1 process is going to take 9 months to a year and then (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised when it only takes 6 months.

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  7. At the K-1 visa interview, a consular officer will determine if your fiance(e) is eligible for the K-1 visa. The officer will probably ask questions about how your fiance(e) met you and how you became engaged. If everything is in order, the consular officer will grant your fiance(e) a K-1 visa. If your fiance(e) has unmarried children under age twenty-one (21), these children may enter the U.S. with your fiance(e). These children must appear at the interview to obtain visa stamps in their passports.

  8. Your post is fantastic and is very informative! Please blog about US Fiancee Visa.

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