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Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC - Immigration Attorneys In California And Utah
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

How do you obtain a visa for a foreign national fiancé or fiancée?

Eligible U.S. citizen applicants may petition USCIS to allow their foreign national fiancés or fiancées to enter the country to get married.

The months, weeks and days leading up to their nuptials are often joyous and exciting for California couples and their families. For international couples, however, this time may also be filled with uncertainty and stress because foreign citizens must get a visa to come to the country to marry U.S. citizens. Understanding the process for obtaining a nonimmigrant K-1 visa may help ensure they take the appropriate steps to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

Petitioning for recognition of fiancé or fiancée

The first step people must take to gain permission to bring a foreign national fiancé or fiancée to the country is to complete and submit Form I-129F with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. People must include documentation proving they meet the eligibility requirements. These petitions ask USCIS to recognize a foreign citizen as the petitioner's fiancé or fiancée. An approval of Form I-129F does not guarantee they will be issued a K-1 visa, nor does it alone grant the fiancé or fiancée entry into the country.

Applying for the visa

Approved petitions for recognition are forwarded to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center, or the NVC. When it is time to file the visa application, the NVC notifies the petitioners. The fiancés or fiancées must then submit a completed online nonimmigrant visa application, or Form DS-160, along with certain required documentation at the appropriate consulate or U.S. Embassy. The documentation people may be required to bring with them includes the following:

  • A valid passport
  • Two photographs in the required format
  • Evidence of the relationship
  • Evidence of financial support
  • Death or divorce certificates for any previous relationships

Additionally, people may be asked to provide law enforcement certificates from the country where they currently reside, and any others where they have lived for at least six months since the age of 16-years-old.

Medical examinations

In addition to conducting background checks on people petitioning for K-1 visas, USCIS also requires them to undergo medical examinations. During these checks, authorized physicians may perform a physical examination, as well as review the applicants' medical history. People may be required to bring copies of their medical records to their appointment, including any previous chest x-rays and their immunization records.

Consular interview


Before a visa is issued, applicants must undergo an interview with a consular officer. At that time, the officers may review the documentation they submitted with their applications and ask them about themselves and their fiancés or fiancées. For example, consular officers may question applicants' education level and work experience, their prior relationships and criminal histories. They may also ask for personal details about their future spouses and their relationships to help ascertain whether they are real or for the purposes of obtaining entrance into the U.S.

Working with a legal representative

Obtaining permission to bring their fiancés or fiancées who are not citizens to the U.S. to get married is not always straightforward for people in California and elsewhere. Complications and challenges in obtaining the necessary visas may delay their marriage, or cast a shadow over their pending nuptials. Therefore, those who intend to marry foreign nationals may benefit by seeking legal guidance. A lawyer may help them understand the requirements and ensure they meet the associated deadlines.

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