Every US immigrant who wants a visa has to meet the specific visa requirements set by the US authorities. In the case of my wife and I, it was the K1 Fiance Visa requirements that were the relevant ones. We had to be sure that we met those requirements before we began the process that would eventually allow us to get married and live in the USA together.
Although getting a K1 Fiance visa is more expensive and takes longer than just getting a temporary visa for work or study, you can work and live in the USA more or less indefinitely once you have used your K1 Fiance Visa to enter the USA, got married and have gone through the I-485 green card application procedure.
There were four main K1 Fiance Visa requirements that my wife and I had to meet:
- Firstly, we had to show that we were legally eligible to wed under the laws of the US and my home country, the UK. This was pretty straightforward for us as neither my fiancee nor I had been married before, so there were no messy ongoing divorces that could potentially get in our way, or anything like that. (We were both well over the minimum age for marriage as well, I might add!)
- Secondly, we had to agree to get married within 90 days of me arriving in the US. This also was no problem for us. We were already engaged by that point and had decided upon a very small wedding ceremony, as the thought of trying to organize a big wedding would have been too daunting, distracting and, frankly, expensive for us. We therefore opted for a simple civil ceremony attended by just a handful of friends. Done this way, getting married in the US is pretty inexpensive and straightforward, I found, although the rules, costs and legalities do vary from state to state. We were married in Florida and found the process quick and easy and not at all a strain on our wallets.
- The third of the K1 Fiance Visa requirements that I was required to meet was that I would use the K1 Fiance Visa to enter the USA with the sole intention of marrying my fiancee. I am not a visa lawyer or a US immigration attorney, but I would guess that this clause is meant to help stop people misusing the K1 Fiance Visa.
- The fourth and final of the K1 Fiance Visa requirements was that my wife and I had met up during the two years before we filed for the K1 fiance visa. We fulfilled this requirement and could prove that we had met up more than once over the time period mentioned with flight tickets, photographs, etc. (I believe that this condition can be waived under certain circumstances, such as if your country or religion has customs that forbid a couple meeting up before marriage, or when the requirement might cause extreme hardship for the US citizen - but you would really have to check this up with the USCIS.)