IMMIGRATION CORNER - Filing for my fiancée

Published: Tuesday | July 7, 2009

Your articles in Jamaica Gleaner is where I got your information. My name is C.J.; my fiancée is from Ethiopia, and lives and works in Doha, Qatar. I am a US citizen over 32 years, retired from the US Air Force, working in Iraq as a contractor, and my home of record is Miami, Florida. I have known her more than two years. My questions are:

Should I apply for a fiancée visa or get married and file for a resident visa in Qatar?

Which procedure is more feasible, less time consuming? Based on your experience in immigration law, which method is more logical?

- CJ

A citizen of the United States is entitled to file a petition for a fiancée visa to bring your fiancée and the fiancée's minor children to the United States.

There are several requirements to obtain approval for this visa. Premier among these requirements are that you must both be free to be married, must have met each other within the last two years - unless there is a cultural prohibition against the meeting, and you and your fiancée plan to be married within 90 days of her arrival in the US. You must show proof that you are legally divorced, if previously married, or proof of your prior spouse's death, if that is the case.

Proof of acquaintance

With the application forms you must submit all proof that you and your fiancée met each other within the last two years. Such proof would include and not be limited to photographs and travel documents.

Additionally, provide documentary evidence of how you communicate with each other. You should both also submit statements of your love and affection for each other and intention to be together, and, if relevant, proof that one party financially supports the other. It would be quite advantageous if you have met your fiancée's family and friends and have photographs to prove this fact.

If you met your fiancée through an international marriage broker you will have to disclose this information on the application form. Additionally, if you have committed a violent crime against someone in the past, been convicted of any domestic violence, related crime or three drug and alcohol-related crimes you would require a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before your petition would be approved. If you filed a petition for a fiancée visa twice in the past or have filed one in the last two years, you will also not be approved by DHS unless you are granted a waiver.

These second set of requirements are designed to protect the fiancée who will be going to the US from falling prey to anyone convicted of serious crimes or who may be engaged in any unscrupulous actions in connection with bringing immigrants to the the country for unsavoury reasons.

In my opinion, the fiancée visa is for persons who are not familiar with each other and in instances where the immigrant has never been to the US. The fiancée visa is really designed for immigrants to go to the United States to see if they like the country, if they like living there and if they like living with their fiancé on a regular basis.

The immigrant must marry the same US citizen who filed the fiancée petition within 90 days. If the relationship is not working out within the 90 days, the immigrant must return home. The immigrant will not be able to change their status in the US if they marry someone other than the person who filed the fiancée visa.

If you and your fiancée are comfortable with each other, are sure of your feelings for each other, and if your fiancée is confident that she wants to live in the US then you can go ahead and get married and you can file a petition for alien relative and take your wife to the United States as a permanent resident. Both methods will take approximately the same time, around eight to nine months. Both methods take place in two phases and in both methods you both must be prepared to prove the validity of your relationship and the US citizen must be ready to provide proof that they can support the intended immigrant.

The decision on how to proceed is a personal one, and must be made jointly by the couple.

Please take good care of yourself so far away from home.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practices law in Florida in the areas of immigration, family, corporate & personal injury law. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. Send your questions and comments to or