How to obtain a fiancé visa?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a question from a reader who wants to know how to apply for a fiancé visa.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

I am a U.S. citizen living in the United States. I wish to petition for my fiancé and his daughter who live in Mexico. We plan to get married when he comes to the U.S., and apply for permanent residency for both of us. I have visited my fiancé several times in Mexico and we love each other very much. How do I apply for a fiancé visa? How long would the process take? -Melissa G.

Melissa, congratulations on your engagement. It is possible to obtain visas for your fiancé and his daughter if they meet the proper requirements.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows U.S. citizens to petition for their fiancés living abroad to travel to the U.S. to get married.

The requirements to apply for a fiancé(e) visa are as follows:

1. Applicant must be a U.S. citizen.

2. The U.S. citizen and his or her fiancé(e) intend to marry within 90 days of the date his or her fiancé(e) enters the United States.

3. The U.S. citizen and his or her fiancé(e) are not legally barred from marrying (e.g., if they were married to other people, they must be legally divorced in order to remarry).

4. The U.S. citizen and fiancé(e) must have seen each other in person at least once during the two years prior to the date the fiancé(e) filed the fiancé(e) visa application. There are exemptions to this requirement.

The fiancé(e) visa is applied for by means of the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancee or Fiancée . Along with the application you must send supporting evidence to the USCIS, including proof of your U.S. citizenship and the relationship between you and your fiancé.

Your fiancé's daughter may also be able to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. if she can demonstrate several requirements, including that she is related to your fiancé, that she is unmarried, and that she is under 21 years of age. You must include your future stepdaughter's information on your fiancé's visa application.

If USCIS approves the Form I-129F, the case will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The NVC, in turn, will forward the case to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to interview your fiancé. If the case is approved, your fiancé and his daughter will receive visas to travel legally to the US.

It is difficult to estimate the time to process a fiancé(e) visa. Generally, the process takes 6 to 12 months to complete. For more information on Form I-129F processing times, please click here.

Your fiancé may be able to apply for permanent residency after you get married. He must file the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status The applicant must meet several requirements, including proving that they are married and that he is admissible to the United States.

It is important to note that fiancé(e) status expires 90 days after entering the U.S. on a fiancé(e) visa. If you do not get married, this could affect your fiancé(e)'s immigration proceedings in the future. You should get legal advice as soon as possible if you decide not to get married.

Please consult with an immigration attorney or federally accredited representative before beginning any immigration proceedings. I remind you that notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multi-services are not authorized to give you legal advice.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of The Green Card: How to obtain permanent residency in the United States . He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. Dr. Castillo's office can be reached at (213) 537-VISA (8472).