What Are The Main Eligibility Requirements For A Fiancé Visa?
The requirements for a fiancé visa are pretty straightforward. The first requirement is that both parties have to be free to marry. They cannot be married to somebody else, so they either have to be single, divorced, or widowed. If you don’t meet that requirement, stop right there because you can’t go forward. Assuming that requirement is met, the requirement is that you must be a U.S. citizen to apply for a fiancé visa. Only a citizen can file for a fiancé visa, a permanent resident cannot. You have to have spent time with each other in person within the two years prior to the application. For example, if you meet somebody now and then you have a long-distance relationship over social media for three years and you decide to get married, you would have to go somewhere and meet in person again or you won’t be able to file for the fiancé visa.
The next requirement is that you both have to agree to marry within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival in the United States. If you don’t marry within those 90 days, even if you miss the deadline by just one day, that person unfortunately still has to go back and you have to do something different. If you meet the deadline and get married within 90 days, you file another set of applications for permanent residency or conditional residency depending on the situation.
Those are the basic requirements. Fiancé visas are actually easier to get approved than marriage visas, for the simple reason that when you’re married you have to prove what they call the bona fides of a marriage and that proof can be hard to establish if they really press you on it when both people live apart. For a fiancé visa you don’t have to prove any of that. You just have to show that you’ve met in person, you have an ongoing relationship, you both intend to marry within the 90 days, and you’re both free to marry.
There are some situations where a person would have problems. For instance, if your fiancé tried to get a tourist visa five years ago at the U.S. consulate in their own country and they lied on the application about something that the U. S. Government considered to be material, that’s considered a fraudulent act. Even if you file for the fiancé visa and you get approved, the case gets forwarded to the U.S. consulate for final review and granting of the visa. U.S. Embassies and Consulates do check previous applications for visas now.
They keep those records forever now. If something like this happens, they will not approve the visa but you could still be eligible to file for a waiver of inadmissibility. The standard for this waiver is that a qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if the visa isn’t granted. In this case, the qualifying relative could be the fiancé, but it’s a very difficult standard to prove in those cases. We usually recommend getting married as opposed to doing the fiancé visa, because then there’s a stronger connection between the two people. Even then, it’s still not easy. The approval rates on these waivers of inadmissibility have gone down significantly in the last couple of years.
How Long Does It Generally Take For A Fiancé Visa To Get Approved?
It literally changes from month to month. The estimate they show on the USCIS website doesn’t refer to the whole case, only to the first part of the case, which can take an average of 8 to 12 months. An average timeframe from start to finish including Part 1, Part 2, and the issuing of the fiancé visa for you to come here is usually in the range of 16 to 22 months.
It does depend on where you’re processing the final application. If you process the application in Mexico or the Philippines versus processing in Germany it’s going to take you longer because they have many more people in the system filing the same type of application whereas in Germany there are very few so of course they can process the cases faster. The Philippines and Mexico are the two busiest US consulates in the world for immigration applications.
If you were to ask the government they would tell you your fiancé should not travel to the United States while waiting for the fiancé visa. Once you have a tourist visa you cannot show any immigrant intent. “Immigrant intent” which means you have an intention to come and live here in the United States. The safest thing is not to travel while your application is processing, and that applies not just for fiancés but spouses too.
If you do decide to give it a shot, it’s going to be a judgment call by the officer. I always tell clients not to misstate anything, to tell the officer the hundred percent truth about your pending fiancé or marriage visa. Even if you do, they can decide that they don’t want to let you in. If they do that, then they can take away your tourist visa and put you back on the next plane to your home country. If your next plane comes in three days they don’t release you. Instead they would put you in some kind of detention, and that usually means jail.
I try to advise clients not to travel but some people can be stubborn and they want they want to take the risk. What I try to explain is that if things go badly you’re risking not being able to come back here for a period of time without some kind of special permission. It’s not a good idea.
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