Getting a US Fiancé(e) Visa for UK Citizens
If you are a UK / British national with a fiancé(e) from the United States, and you both plan to marry and settle down there, you will need to apply for a US Fiancé(e) Visa. You will undoubtedly be extremely keen to ensure that your visa is processed in a timely manner to ensure that your plans to get married proceed without a hitch. Many wedding venues have to be booked well in advance, and often large deposits paid to secure them, hence any delay in securing a visa can have significant implications. Thankfully, with some understanding of how the US Fiancé(e) Visa scheme works, the eligibility rules, and the application process, you will be well on your way to making the journey across the pond in good time to start preparing your ceremony.
Who is the US Fiancé(e) Visa intended for?
Foreign nationals, including UK citizens, can apply for a Fiancé(e) Visa (also referred to as a K-1 visa) to enter and stay in the United States for the purposes of getting married and later securing indefinite residence. Applicants must intend to get married in the US within 90 days of arrival.
Am I eligible for a US Fiancé(e) Visa?
To be eligible for a US Fiancé(e) visa, the following must apply:
- Your fiancé(e) must be a US citizen.
- You and your fiancé(e) must intend to marry one another within 90 days of your arrival in the US.
- Your marriage must be valid, meaning both you and your fiancé(e) have a bona fide intent to establish a life together, and the marriage is not for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
- You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (this means you both are legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment); and
- You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the two-year period before you file your petition.
In some cases, it may be possible to have the in-person meeting requirement waived, but this is only if you can show that meeting in person would have violated “strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or result in extreme hardship to you, the US citizen petitioner”.
How do I apply for a US Fiancé(e) Visa as a UK citizen?
It is important to note that if you do not intend to live in the US with your partner, and you only plan to stay for up to 90 days, you will not need a visa solely for the purposes of getting married as the UK is included in the visa waiver program.
If you do intend to settle in the US with your partner, the steps to apply for a Fiancé(e) Visa are as follows:
Step 1) Filing a petition - The US-based fiancé(e) first needs to file an I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) on behalf of the UK national with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS states, “The petition can only be filed with USCIS in the United States and will take several months to process. You should contact USCIS directly if you have any questions about the petition process”. If your petition has been approved, you will receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797. The national visa centre will also send your application to the US embassy in London for further processing. USCIS advises, “If more than two weeks have passed since your petition has been approved, and you have not received a letter from the Embassy, please contact us through the contact form”. There is a fee of £330 for those over 15 years of age.
Step 2) Book your medical examination – USCIS states, “You may schedule an appointment by telephoning 020 7486 7822 Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You must quote your case number when making your call. Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Step 3) Complete the application form – you will need to complete the online Form DS-160 for yourself and each family member who requires a visa to enter the US. A printed copy of the confirmation page should be brought along to the embassy interview.
Step 4) Prepare your documents – you will be asked to prepare and bring a number of documents with you to the interview. USCIS advises that these should not be sent before the interview. The documents you may need to submit include your passport, photographs, birth certificate, police certificate for the UK, and divorce decree if applicable. A full list of documents needed will be provided to you.
Step 5) Schedule your interview with the US embassy – your interview can be scheduled online. As part of this step, you will need to:
- Select “I have received a letter from the consular section with instructions to register or schedule a K visa appointment”
- Register for a new account (if you don’t already have one)
- Confirm how you would like your passport to be returned to you
- Pay the MRV fee
- Select a suitable interview date – USCIS states, “You may schedule an appointment to take place after the petition expiration date, provided that you bring to your interview a signed letter from your petitioner confirming that you both remain legally free to marry and that you will marry within 90 days of your arrival in the United States”.
- Print the courier confirmation details page.
Step 6) Have your medical examination
Step 7) Attend your embassy interview – this will take in the region of 1.5 hours in total. You will typically be advised if your application has been successful at the end of your interview. If this is the case, you can expect to receive your passport and visa within seven to ten working days.
Step 8) Travel to the United States
This article only provides a brief summary of the steps needed to apply for a US Fiancé(e) Visa as a UK citizen. We recommend applying as early as possible to avoid any possible delay. It is also advisable to ask an immigration lawyer to review your application before it is submitted or to prepare your application on your behalf. Doing so will maximise your chances of receiving a positive decision on your US Fiancé(e) Visa.