Written by attorney Sharon L. Ames

5 Things to Know about Fiance Visas

  1. It's more than just filling in the forms. To be eligible for a fiance visa, you must be able to show that you have met each other in person within the last two years, that you both are legally free to marry each other, and that you have a true intention to get married within 90 days after your fiance arrives in the United States. Each requirement needs proof, so you should submit, for example, copies of things like photographs, passport entry and departure stamps, airline receipts and boarding passes, receipts for hotel stays, receipts for engagement rings, initial plans for a ceremony and reception in the U.S. and copies of divorce judgments for any previous marriages.

  2. Be patient. USCIS takes at least five months to approve a fiance petition, and sometimes longer. If they want more information about your relationship, they may send a Request for Further Evidence, which will delay processing until you provide what they want. That's why it is important to send in as much evidence as possible when you file your fiance petition. Once the petition is approved, it will be up to another month before the Embassy contacts you and your fiance about the steps to schedule the interview. At this point, you will need either to send original documents(birth records, divorce records, police clearances, etc.) to the Embassy or bring them to the interview, depending on the Embassy's own procedures. This phase of the process can take up to three months more, depending on the Embassy.

  3. Prepare the visa forms correctly. The fiance visa is a "hybrid" visa, which means that even though it is classified as a "nonimmigrant K visa" , the applicant's intent is to live in the US permanently , so the "immigrant visa" procedures must also be followed. That means that the fiance visa applicant must fill out both types of visa forms. Incomplete forms will result in delays or even a refusal of the visa if there is inconsistent information on the various forms.

  4. Be prepared for the interview. Consular officers interview many, many applicants each day. When your fiance attends the interview, make sure he or she is familiar with all of the paperwork: the USCIS fiance petition, the visa forms, and all of the supporting documents that were submitted. You can bring additional evidence of the relationship to the interview. Some Embassies experience a high incidence of fraud, so if your fiance is from one of those countries, it is critical to be prepared for lots of questions. If he or she does not know the answer to a question, do not make up an answer and above all, do NOT ever lie to a consular officer!

  5. Remember, you are going to get married. This means that you and your fiance are truly serious about a permanent relationship. Consular officers know this and will be hesitant to approve a fiance visa for a couple that just met, spent a few days together, and then decided to get married. Before you even begin the process, think about your relationship and whether you have the foundation built to get through the process successfully. How much do you really know about each other? Often it is better to wait until you have had a chance to see each other again. If your fiance does not speak English and you do not speak his or her native language, it will be hard to convince a consular officer that you have an ongoing relationship without one or both of you showing how you communicate. It is important that your actions and words reflect that you understand the commitment within the meaning of marriage.

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