Say you met the love of your life while working or travelling abroad. The two of you are engaged and plan to get married soon so you can begin your lives together, living in Florida.
Just one problem: your betrothed is not a U.S. citizen, and does not have a green card either. How can he or she come to this country to prepare for the wedding and actually get married?
Federal law gives non-citizens the chance to enter the country a short while before their wedding to a citizen, through a visa known as a fiancé or fiancée visa. This status gives legitimate couples the ability to marry in this country.
There are several requirements for eligibility. First, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. The petitioner and fiancé(e) must intend to get married within 90 days of the fiancé(e) entering the country.
Both parties must be free to marry. Any prior marriages must have been terminated by divorce, death or annulment.
Also, the couple must have met each other at least once in the prior two years. There are two exceptions to this rule. One, this is not necessary if it would violate a strict and long-established custom of your or your fiancé(e)’s culture or social practice. Two, if the meeting requirement would result in extreme hardship to the petitioner.
Note that the fiancé(e) visa does not last for very long. Once in the U.S., the fiancé(e) can apply for permanent residence, and remain in the country while the government processes the application.
To avoid mistakes in the application process, it may be wise to consult with an immigration attorney.