Family-Sponsored Immigration: Spouses and Fiancés of United States Citizens

United States citizens who marry abroad often assume that their new spouse may enter the U.S. immediately following the marriage. This is generally not true. Rather, there is usually await of several months for the required green card processing to conclude, since the new spouse will need to enter the United States as a permanent resident. Whether abroad or in the United States, the U.S. citizen must file a visa petition for the new spouse. If the couple has married in the U.S., the visa petition should be filed with the foreign spouse’s application for permanent residency. If the couple has married abroad, the visa petition is filed, by itself, in the United States. When approved, it is forwarded to the U.S. Consulate closest to the foreign spouse’s residence. The foreign spouse will complete the green card process with an application and interview at the Consulate. Only until approval of permanent residency by the Consulate may the foreign spouse enter the United States.

Fiancés of United States citizens may enter the U.S. with a K-l visa. K-l visa requirements are as follows:

  1. The petition (I-129F) must be submitted with evidence of a bona fide intent to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s entry.
  2. There must be no legal impediments to a marriage.
  3. The couple must have met in person within 2 years of filing the petition.
  4. The petitioner must submit his or her criminal record, if any.
  5. The petitioner may be required by the Consulate to submit evidence of his or her ability to financially support the fiancé.
  6. The fiancé is required to have a medical examination by physicians approved by the Department of State.

The fiancé petition is submitted to the USCIS. When approved, it is sent to the U.S. Consulate closest to the fiance’s residence and the fiance will be interviewed there. After approval by the Consulate, the fiance may enter the United States and apply for permanent resident status after marrying.