Getting married and starting a life together in the United States requires navigating the fiance visa process if one partner is a U.S. citizen and the other is a foreign national. A K-1 fiance visa ensures your arrival and marriage in the U.S. goes smoothly.
We are often asked, “Can a green card holder petition for a fiance visa?” Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Only U.S. citizens can petition for K-1 fiance visas for their foreign fiances.
However, we can discuss your options and guide you through the fiance visa process. With the correct information and legal support, you and your fiance can obtain a green card and live together in the U.S.
A fiance green card, also called a fiance visa or legally a K-1 visa, allows the foreign fiance of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States to get married.
The K-1 visa itself is temporary, but once married, the foreign fiance can apply to adjust status and obtain a two-year conditional green card. The K-1 fiance visa is only given to fiances living outside the United States.
The process has two main steps:
In addition to one of you being a U.S. Citizen and getting married within 90 days of arriving in the U.S., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has other eligibility requirements for the K-1 visa. For the sake of clarity, the requirements will be listed from the viewpoint of the U.S. citizen petitioning for their foreign national fiance:
You must also prove that your relationship and engagement are bona fide, which translates to “good faith.” To prove your relationship is authentic and that you will get married in the first 90 days of arrival, you can present documents such as:
Although these documents are not all required, they may help strengthen your petition.
To get a K-1 green card, you need to file Form I-129F. The petition will allow you to marry your fiance and obtain the official fiance visa green card. The costs of the process are as follows:
|Form / Service||Fee|
|Form DS-160 for temporary travel and K-1 visas||$265|
|Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status||Typically $1,140|
|Biometrics fee, if applicable||$85|
A marriage-based visa costs $1760 if your spouse lives in the U.S. or $1200 if they live overseas. However, a marriage-based visa often has a longer processing time.
At this time, the average wait time is about 21 months for form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, which is the first step for getting your spouse a green card. In contrast, for Form I-129F, the average wait time is 13.4 months.
However, this will vary depending on your processing center. For example, at the Texas Service Center, Form I-129F has a 17-month waiting period, and Form I-130 has a 14-month waiting period. You can check current processing times with the USCIS Processing Times Calculator.
Additionally, you’ll have to consider where you want to have your wedding. The benefit of Form I-129F is you can have your wedding in the U.S. If you plan to file a Form I-130, your spouse will need a different visa for the U.S., or you will have to have the wedding elsewhere.
Here’s an additional breakdown of the differences between a fiance visa and a spouse visa:
|Fiance Visa||Marriage Visa|
|For fiances of U.S. citizens||For spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents|
|Must marry within 90 days||Already married|
|On average, shorter processing time||On average, longer processing time|
|Lower cost||Higher cost|
|2-year conditional green card||Permanent 10-year green card|
Our team at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. can help determine the best option for you and your fiance based on your circumstances, preferences, and financial situation.
If you and your fiance decide the K-1 visa is the best route, here is an overview of the process:
The only way to petition for a fiance visa is if one partner is a U.S. citizen and the other is a foreign national. You need to be a U.S. citizen and not a U.S. permanent resident. However, if your fiance is a green card holder currently petitioning for citizenship, you have more options. But you must wait until the lawful permanent resident partner obtains their citizenship before moving forward with the fiance visa.
No visas currently allow a foreign national engaged to a lawful permanent resident to petition for a fiance visa.
If neither you nor your fiance are U.S. citizens, and one of you is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you have limited options for getting married in the United States.
There are three main options:
The laws limit a permanent resident’s ability to petition for a foreign fiance. Each case is unique, so it’s best to consult an immigration attorney to understand the options and risks of your particular situation.
The experienced immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. are here to support you through the process of obtaining your fiance visa. Engagement and marriage are exciting times in life, and we want to make your transition to the United States as seamless as possible. Contact us at 312-444-1940 or fill out an online form today.