Last summer I met the man I’m going to marry. I was visiting friends in London and I met Gavin, the “new guy” in the group. We hit it off, and within a few months, we were discussing a future together.
Since I’m American and Gav is English, we started researching visa options as soon as we began talking about marriage. We knew that we would have quite a bit of paperwork to navigate, but we did not anticipate how long the fiance visa process would take.
As our case has finally started to make some progress in the last few weeks, I’ve received a few messages asking how the fiance visa process works and why we chose to live in the US instead of England. I’m finally ready to organize my thoughts and share about our experience.
I’m starting this series of posts with a little FAQ and in the weeks to come, I’ll write about the K-1 fiance visa paperwork requirements, application, process, and timeline.
Why did we choose the US over England?
Gav and I (mostly Gav though — I have to give him credit) spent hours researching various visas offered by both countries. In the end, based on everything we read, we thought that the paperwork would be easier if we started in the states and later went to England than if we chose the reverse. Plus, I had recently returned from living in Australia for a year and wanted to be near my family for a while. We hope to spend at least a few years living in England at some stage.
Which visa are we applying for?
We’re applying for the K-1 fiance visa. This visa allows the foreign fiance to enter the USA for the purposes of getting married to a US citizen (the one who filed the petition — not just anyone :-)). The intention is for the couple to reside in the US.
If we were married in England first and then wanted to move to the USA and have our marriage recognized, we would have to file for a different visa.
When are we getting married?
We’re getting married twice.
The K-1 fiance visa requires that you get married within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival. Gav and I learned that visa approvals have been taking longer than usual lately, and we didn’t want to plan a fall 2012 wedding only to have him still stuck in England. We want his family and our friends in England to be able to attend and have ample notice for requesting vacation time and booking flights and accommodation. And we didn’t want to plan a wedding and lose money on deposits if the visa hadn’t come through.
SO, because we want to have an outdoor wedding, we decided to plan a spring 2013 wedding (May 4) for family and friends. I’ll wear the white dress, and we’ll have the ceremony and reception one would expect.
To abide by visa requirements, we’ll be married within 90 days of Gav’s arrival and we’re still talking about how that will look — so we’ll be husband and wife well before our May 4 ceremony!
We hope to have a date set for the first wedding in the next few weeks once the US embassy in London arranges an interview with Gav.
After you two get married will you be dual citizens?
I wish it was that easy!
Once Gav and I get married (within the first 90 days of his arrival), we will file for an “Adjustment of Status” to his visa. When this round of paperwork is approved, he will receive his green card. Next we can file for permanent residency, and hopefully he’ll have that within two years of his arrival. A year or so later, Gav can pursue citizenship if he wishes.
If we would like to pursue a similar course of action for me, we’ll need to move to England for a while. We will file for a visa for me that recognizes we are already married. I haven’t looked into the details yet, but we will probably need to live there for a few years to secure more than a temporary status for me.
These are some of the biggest questions folks have had for us. In an upcoming series of posts, I’ll address why we chose to work with a lawyer instead of going it alone, our favorite online community for couples like us, the paperwork required to prove you’re in a genuine relationship with someone overseas, and what we’ve experienced with the visa timeline.