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The process of marrying a foreign-citizen fiancé

If a U.S. citizen has a fiancé who is a citizen of, and lives in, another country, there are certain steps that the fiancé must take before entering the country and marrying the U.S. citizen. The path the fiancé must take is through a K-1 visa.

After marriage, the foreign citizen can take the steps necessary to become a legal resident.

Obtaining a K-1 Visa

According to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, the first step in getting a K-1 Visa is for the U.S. citizen to file Form I-129. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services approves this petition, the fiancé can then complete the visa application (Form DS-160), complete a medical exam and set up a visa interview. Along with the completed application form and examination results, the applicant must bring the following to the interview:

  • Birth certificate, police certificates and divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse
  • Valid passport
  • Evidence of financial support and of the relationship with the fiancé living in the U.S.
  • Two 2×2 photographs
  • Associated fees

If the U.S. Embassy issues a K-1 visa, the fiancé can apply for a U.S. port-of-entry admission, where he or she will present the visa and a sealed packet with related documents. Upon entry into the country, the fiancé must marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days.

Obtaining legal residency

After marriage, the USCIS states the foreign spouse can apply for a Green Card as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Applying for this requires the filing of additional forms, a copy of the K-1 visa as well as the items needed to apply for the visa. Upon the approval of a Green Card, the spouse becomes a lawful permanent resident of the country.


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