There are two options available for U.S. Citizens who plan to marry foreign nationals and reside in the United States after marriage. Depending upon whether your fiancée wants to relocate to the United States before or after the marriage will determine which type of visa you will need.
For a foreign national who wants to enter the United States with the intent to marry an American Citizen, K1 Visa, commonly known as a fiancée visa, is required. With the fiancée visa, the marriage must take place within ninety days after the foreign national arrives to the United States. Since the fiancée visa is a non-immigrant visa, a separate application to secure permanent residence after the marriage will be required. If there are children, under the age of twenty one unmarried, they may also accompany their parent to the United States as they have derivative status. The entire fiancée visa process takes on average five to six months to complete. Couples who apply for a fiancé visa must be unmarried. The legal marriage must take place within the territory of the United States. Religious ceremonies that are not legally binding may be performed in one’s home country and will not interfere with the k1 visa process as long as no legal documents are issued. The marriage between the American petitioner and the foreign beneficiary must be performed within ninety days after arrival of the fiancée to the United States.
The marriage visa process is essentially as the same as that of the K1 visa in terms of procedural steps, but differs in that more evidence of the legitimacy of the marital relationship will be required. The Adjustment of Status process is incorporated into the CR1 Visa process. Applicants must prove a legitimate marital union in order to receive a marriage visa. A legitimate marital union is not just a legal marriage, but rather proving a marital union as a real husband and wife. Generally, the proof required includes proof of the marriage, proof of cohabitation, proof of join bank account, shared health plans, and in general the type of documents and proof normally associated with that of husband and wife. Because of this type of proof required to support a marriage visa application, we usually recommend fiancé visas over marriage visas when couples are trying to decide between the two.
We have experience with all visas, both marriage and fiancé visas and regardless of your situation, we will help you understand the requirements and various options to make an appropriate decision.