Obtaining a visa for a foreign fiancé

Many Americans find true love while working in a foreign country. Usually, these couples want to marry each other, and they devote a significant amount of time and energy to making that happen. Their first formal obstacle will be the United States immigration system. The process must ordinarily be commenced by the person who lives in America, assuming that person is an American citizen.

Beginning the process

An American citizen who wants to bring his or her fiancé to the United States for the purpose of marriage must apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa (often referred to as a “fiancé visa”). This applicant is made by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. The couple must intend to marry each other within 90 days of the foreign fiancé entering the U.S. The marriage must also be undertaken in good faith, that is, the two individuals have a bona fide intent to establish a life together and are not getting married merely to obtain an immigration benefit.

If the foreign fiancé is already living lawfully in the United States, Form 129F will not work to confer protected status. In such cases, the couple must obtain a “green card” to continue living lawfully in the U.S.

Eligibility for a Fiancé Visa.

A person may seek a fiancé visa if:

  • the person is a U.S. citizen;
  • the couple plans to marry within 90 days after the fiancé enters the U.S.;
  • both persons are legally free to marry, that is, all prior marriages have been legally dissolved; and
  • the couple must prove that they met each other face-to-face at least once in the two year period before the petition is filed.
The visa approval process

Once the petition is filed, CIS staff will review the form and accompanying evidence and decide whether the couple satisfies the requirements for a K-1 visa. If the application is approved, it is sent to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will send the approved form I-129F to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where the fiancé will apply for a K-1 Non-immigrant visa. The embassy or consulate will determine whether the foreign fiancé qualifies for a K-1 non-immigrant visa.

If the petition is rejected, the applicant will receive a written notice of the reasons for the denial.


As may be inferred from the previous discussion, the application process for a fiancé visa is complicated, and an application can be denied for almost any reason. While the process is designed to operate without attorneys, a knowledgeable immigration lawyer can be a helpful ally.

Recent Posts