Law Offices of Stuart J. Reich, PLLC

Practice Limited to Immigration & Nationality Law

11 Broadway, Suite 615
New York, NY 10004

(212) 430-6582 phone
(212) 430-6583 facsimile

My Foreign National Fiance is In Another Country, But We Want to Get Married Here in the U.S. and Then Get Him/Her a Green Card

Q: My fiancé is abroad, and we want to get married here in the U.S. and then apply for a Green Card based on the marriage - how do we do this, and do we need a K-1 fiancé visa or can we just use a visitor visa?

A: It is possible to bring your fiancé here for the marriage. Starting this way, the ONLY appropriate way to do this is to apply for the K-1 fiancé visa.

This process involves filing through USCIS, waiting the four to six months for approval, and then your fiancé must process through the U.S. embassy or consular post in the home country (this can take another one to two months normally, in some cases almost double that).

The fiancé visa petition is something of a "hybrid" - named as a nonimmigrant visa, largely viewed as a nonimmigrant visa, yet it is much like the Immigrant Visa for Alien Relative filed after marriage and in large part turns into this petition after the fiancé comes to the U.S. and marries the U.S. citizen. It requires that all of the same things be proven: valid relationship (here, this includes that the couple has met in person at least once in the two years leading up to the petition, or that in the culture involved it is normal not to), financial support, etc.

Q: But this takes so long, and I have heard of other couples where the foreign national arrived on a Visitor visa and was able to get a green card in the U.S. after marrying a citizen - why can't my fiancé just come as a visitor?

A: Because in your situation, this would be committing fraud.

It isn't unusual for someone to enter as a visitor planning only to visit, or in some other status intending to do only what that status permits, and after some time here circumstances change and people develop different feelings, goals and plans. In such a case, nothing dishonest was done and a marriage-based green card would be approvable.

However, the visitor visa requires "nonimmigrant intent" - the intent to visit briefly and then return to a home abroad. This is NOT the intent if the plan is to come to the U.S. to marry a U.S. citizen fiancé and then apply for permanent residence. Representing that it is would be a misrepresentation, and cause denial of the case later.

There is a presumption of fraud if one enters as a visitor and then does something inconsistent with the required intent within a certain period after entry.

Contact us here to arrange a consultation, to inquire about retaining us to handle your immigration matter, or simply to suggest topics you would like to see covered on our site.

The above is presented for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. The information provided should not be used as guidance in pursuing an immigration matter absent consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.