If you plan on marrying a foreign national located outside of the United States you will need to petition your fiancé(e) prior to coming to the United States. To petition for your fiancé(e) you must:
- Be a United States citizen,
- Intend to marry your fiancé(e) within 90 days of entering the United States,
- Both must be free to marry,
- Have met each other at least once within 2 years of filing your petition (unless a waiver applies).
Once you are married, your spouse* may apply for permanent residence and remain in the United States while the application is processed.
*On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor struck down the discriminatory federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and affirmed that all loving and committed couples who are married deserve equal legal respect and treatment from the federal government, including immigration benefits. Gay and lesbian United States citizens can file a fiancé(e) visa on behalf of their committed partners. The application requires that the couple demonstrate that they have a “bona fide” relationship.