If you are applying for a K-1 fiancé visa, here is an overview of the application process. Get ready for a large amount of paperwork and numerous forms. How long it will take basically depends on how backed up the various government agencies you will deal with are; several months is typical.
Obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa involves five major steps:
Step 1: Your U.S. citizen fiancé submits a fiancé petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done on Form I-129F, which is available for free download from the Form I-129F page of the USCIS website. (Don't confuse it with Form I-129, which is used by employers petitioning for workers.)
In addition to filling out the form, the petitioner must prepare various documents showing that you meet the various legal requirements for the K-1 visa, for example to prove U.S. citizenship status and the fact that you two have met in person within the last two years.
Step 2: After USCIS approves your petition, it notifies not only the U.S. citizen petitioner, but also the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire. The NVC will advise you which consulate it is forwarding your case to.
Step 3: You fill out forms, visit a doctor (one approved by the U.S. consulate) to get a medical exam report and catch up on any needed vaccinations, and make an appointment with the designated U.S. consulate in your home country. Approval of your I-129F fiance petition will be good for four months, so be sure to schedule the appointment within that time.
Step 4: You attend your consular interview and hopefully, if you meet the eligibility requirements and are not otherwise inadmissible to the U.S., receive your K-1 visa. The U.S. citizen petitioner does not typically attend this interview. A K-1 visa is good for U.S. entry for up to six months.
Step 5: After entering the U.S., you have 90 days in which to get married and either leave the country or apply for a green card (adjustment of status). This process involves even more paperwork than the fiance visa did.
In rare instances, some couples have to attend a fraud interview if the government has doubts about their intended marriage being the real thing. This means an extra-comprehensive interview in which members of the couple are separately interviewed but asked the same questions, after which their answers are compared for consistency.
Many couples wish that they could take a quick trip to the United States while waiting for the fiancé visa to be granted. Unfortunately, once you have submitted any part of your fiancé visa application, you are unlikely to be granted entry as a tourist. This is because either the U.S. consulate to which you apply for a visitor visa, or the U.S. border officer who meets you at the airport or other point of entry, will likely believe that your real intention in using the tourist visa is to get married and then apply for your green card in the United States. That would be an inappropriate use of the tourist visa and could be considered visa fraud. With visa fraud on your immigration record, you would have a difficult time getting approved for any sort of U.S. visa or green card.
Need a lawyer? Start here.