Immigration Corner | Can I get a fiancé visa?
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I am a Jamaican and my fiancé is a United States citizen, but not by birth. We have known each other for seven years and we have shared a relationship for two years now. He visits me here in Jamaica a couple of times and sends money every month for my son and me.
Can he apply for a fiancé visa for me? How long will it take?
A United States citizen such as your fiancé can file a petition for you to come to America with the intention of marrying him – a fiancé visa. This visa takes nine months to one year for the intending immigrant to be interviewed at the US Embassy in their home country. If approved and you travel to America, you must marry your US fiancé within 90 days of arrival and file to change your status to that of a permanent resident in the United States.
The fiancé visa is intended primarily for persons who do not know each other well to be able to have time together to see if they are compatible and if the immigrant likes being in America. If the relationship does not evolve into marriage within the 90 days, the immigrant must leave the United States and return home. This is because they will be unable to change status with another petitioner. This is so even if the couple marry and later divorce before the immigrant is granted permanent residency status. To be clear, if you enter on a fiancé visa, only the person who sponsored you on that fiancé visa will be able to file for a green card for you in America.
This requirement that you can only adjust status with your fiancé is problematic for some immigrants. Relationships are difficult and there are times when they do not last, and the same goes for marriages. It is therefore better for you to marry and be petitioned for as the spouse of an American citizen. If the marriage fails within two years of you receiving your green card, you can still file for the 10-year card as a divorced spouse.
If your son is under age 18 when you marry your fiancé, your son will also qualify for US residency, if his stepfather files a separate petition for him to migrate.
As with a spouse’s petition, a fiancé visa requires documentary evidence of the validity of the relationship, and the intending immigrant must be able to convince the consular officer that they are seeking to migrate and be with the US citizen because of love and affection and a desire to spend their life with the petitioner.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org