A Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 Visa, allows the foreign fiance or fiancee of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States and marry the US citizen within 90 days. After marriage, the spouse can apply for an adjustment of status to permanent residence.
The Fiance Visa application process is a multi-stage process that needs a lot of organizing and tracking of different forms.
Initially, the U.S. Citizen has to file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using the Form I-129, Petition for Alien Fiance(e) and Form G-325A, Biographic Information. The foreign fiancee will also need to fill out a form G-325A. The information supplied on this form can be used by the government to do a background check of the fiance(e).
The US citizen will receive the Notice of Action from the USCIS acknowledging that the petition has been approved. When he/she receives this notice depends on the processing time taken by the service center at which the fiance visa was filed. The approved petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center which in turn will forward it to the foreign fiancee's embassy, as listed in the I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e).
Once the U.S. Consulate receives the NVC notice of the approval of the Fiance Visa petiton, it will send foreign fiance(e) an interview notice, some additional fiance(e) visa forms and instructions. The forms and the instructions vary among Consurlates. (Usually it contains Form DS-156, DS-156K, DS-230). The Fiance(e) Visa application will include a medical exam by a doctor approved by the US consulate or USCIS. On the day of the interview, the fiance will be expected to arrive at the Consulate with the forms and documents as mentioned by the Consulate. This should also inclued Form I-134 (which has been filled by the US citizen sponsor and sent to the fiance.)
Within a few days of attending and being approved, the fiance(e) will receive from the Consulate a visa to enter the United States. The fiance(e) has 6 months to enter the United States. The Fiance(e) Visa is a thick, sealed envelop that must be presented to a U.S. Border official unopened. The border official will stamp the fiance(e)'s passport with the K-1 Visa and give him/her an I-94 card showing the 90 days duration of the visa. Children below the age of 21 may be eligible to accompany the applicant on a K-2 Visa.
The foreign fiance(e) should start working on the "Green Card" application as soon as he/she arrives in the United States. USCIS expects the foreign fiancee to file it before the 90 day expiration of his/her fiance(e) visa. If a "Green Card" application is approved then the foreign fiancee will be given conditional residence.
The Conditional Resendence status means that the status will expire in two years after which the USCIS will take a second look at whether the marriage is indeed real (bona fide) before it allows the foreign fiancee to stay permanently. To remove the conditions on the residence, the conditional resident will need to submit a petition - Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence) to USCIS. This petiton has to be submitted within 90 days of the date of expiration of the conditional residence status.
When the petition is approved, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident. Further down the road, the permanent resident can apply to become an American citizen through naturalization.