The world is much smaller than it used to be, which means that your chances of meeting and falling in love with someone outside the country may be greater than in decades past. If the two of you decide to marry and live here in New York, you will need to get your future spouse into the country first.

As you plan your wedding, you will need to plan the time it will take to obtain a fiance visa. The wedding must happen within 90 days of his or her entrance into the country. This means that you could be planning the bulk of your wedding long distance, but at least he or she may be here for the final preparations.

Qualifying to petition for a visa

It is your responsibility to obtain the K-1 non-immigrant visa as the U.S. citizen in the relationship. Other than being a U.S. Citizen, you must meet the qualifications below to request it:

  • You both must meet the U.S. requirements for legal marriage, which means that any previous marriages ended in annulment, death or divorce.
  • You intend to marry within the 90 days as mentioned above.
  • With extremely limited exceptions, you and your future spouse must meet in person at least once within the two years prior to your application.

If you meet these qualifications, you may proceed with the application process.

Obtaining the visa

If you receive approval for the visa, your fiance must still come to the country via a port of entry. You need to know that obtaining the visa does not guarantee the government will allow him or her to enter the country. Throughout the process, the government performs security checks, background checks and criminal history checks of your future spouse and you. Any anomalies could prevent entry for your intended.

The next steps

If all goes well and your marriage happens within the prescribed time frame, your spouse may apply for a green card. Once you file the application, you and your spouse will need to attend an interview to satisfy immigration authorities that your marriage is legitimate and not meant to circumvent immigration laws.

Throughout this process, you could encounter delays or denials. In order to help ensure that the process goes more smoothly and that you can address any potential issues quickly and efficiently, you might consider working with an experienced immigration attorney.