Fiancé visas are not available for foreign nationals who seek to marry permanent residents of the United States. Fiancé visas are only available to persons who are traveling to marry a U.S. citizen. If you are the fiancé of a United States lawful permanent resident (a person who is not a citizen but has a permanent resident card) and you live outside the country, you have limited choices for entering the country and accompanying your fiancé.
This is true whether you intend to stay in the United States for a temporary period, or permanently. If you have questions about how you can assist your fiancé in obtaining legal residency, this is the article for you.
Who Qualifies for Legal Residency?
When a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (a green card holder) marries someone from another country, they likely intend to bring their new spouse to reside with them in the United States. However, to do so, certain protocols must be observed. People who want to help their prospective spouse immigrate to the United States, and become legal permanent residents, have a few possible avenues.
Fiancé visas are not available for foreign nationals who seek to marry permanent residents of the United States. Fiancé visas are only available to persons who are traveling to marry a U.S. citizen. But don’t give up hope. If you are the fiancé of a permanent resident, there are ways to enter the United States, although they may take longer to process. These are the primary methods:
- First, marry your fiancé. Then apply for permanent residency as the spouse of a permanent resident. This approach requires your U.S. spouse to file a Form I-130 petition with USCIS, along with supporting papers such as a copy of the marriage certificate. Next, you’ll need to wait (typically for up to 2 years) for a visa to become eligible in this category based on your Priority Date. You have no permission to live in the United States during this time. If your partner becomes a citizen during this time, you will be considered an “immediate relative” and will be able to apply for your immigrant visa/green card right away.
- A United States citizen can apply for a fiancé visa (also known as a K-1 nonimmigrant visa), which allows your loved one to come to the U.S. to get married to you. To be eligible for this form of visa, both partners need to be free to marry and must have met in person during the preceding two years before applying. A citizen can apply for a K-1 visa by submitting Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé). The fiancé may enter the United States after acquiring a visa, and the marriage needs to take place within 90 days of their arrival. After being married, a spouse can file Form I-485 to become a lawful permanent resident (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
- Hold off until your fiancé becomes a U.S. citizen before starting the application procedure as a citizen’s fiancée. This route entails your U.S. spouse submitting a Form I-129F petition to USCIS. Next, you will need to apply for a K-1 fiancé visa, then visit the United States, get married within 90 days, and then apply for an adjustment of status (a green card).
Come to the United States on a tourist visa and marry here (with the intention of returning to your home country afterward). This is legal, but it runs the risk of border officials not believing you intend to depart after the wedding and thereby refusing you entry past the U.S. border.
- Individuals who are not capable of obtaining a fiancé visa in the United States, or who do not choose to wait to marry, can leave the nation and marry in another country. Because fiancé visas are available only to those marrying Americans, lawful permanent residents may have to use this technique to bring their prospective spouses to the United States.
- An individual can apply Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and Form I-130A (Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary) on account of their spouse after they get married. When a petition is approved, the spouse can apply for an immigrant visa, and the United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident spouse needs to agree to be their spouse’s financial sponsor and demonstrate their ability to continue funding their spouse by filing Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). A spouse may seek to become a lawful permanent resident after acquiring a visa and arriving in the United States by submitting I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages. The sooner your American fiancé obtains citizenship, the sooner you can attain American citizenship.
A permanent resident can apply for citizenship in the United States five years after acquiring a green card (with certain exceptions that allow for earlier submissions of an N-400 application).
Contact a Pride Immigration Attorney Today
The documents and processes necessary to aid an immigrant fiancé in obtaining a Green Card are complicated, and the assistance of a qualified, experienced attorney is critical in ensuring that all requirements are met appropriately. We can provide you with legal assistance throughout the immigration procedure at Pride Immigration. For more information, contact a Pride Immigration attorney now.