Can I Visit My Fiancé(e) in the United States?


Precautions to take when visiting your spouse-to-be


Visiting your fiancé(e) in the United States isn’t always straightforward


So, you’ve popped the question and you’re going to marry a U.S. citizen or green card holder? Congratulations! However, it’s important to understand how your planned wedding could affect any future travel to the United States.

Once you’re married you can apply for a green card, and when it’s approved you’ll be able to travel freely. Before then, you can get a K-1 fiancé(e) visa that will entitle you to come to the United States, get married, and stay while your green card application is processed. But if you want to come for a temporary visit, you could face questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official who processes your temporary visa, or the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official who inspects you at the border.

That’s because the U.S. government wants to make sure that you don’t use a temporary visa to enter the country if you’re planning on staying permanently. If you have a fiancé(e) in the United States, USCIS and CBP officials might wonder if you’re really going to leave before your temporary visa expires.

Traveling to the United States while you are engaged is still possible, but it’s important to understand the rules. In this guide you’ll learn about:

  1. Traveling before filing a K1 petition
  2. Traveling with a pending K1 petition
  3. Traveling on a K1 fiancé(e) visa
  4. Getting married using a temporary visa

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Visiting Before Filing a K-1 Petition


If you are planning on using a K-1 fiancé(e) visa, your fiancé(e) will need to file an I-129F Petition requesting a visa on your behalf. If they haven’t already filed this petition, then the U.S. government will have no record of your planned wedding, and you shouldn’t have any trouble visiting the United States on a temporary visa (such as a tourist visa).

It is still very important that you answer truthfully if a USCIS or CBP official asks who you are visiting, or if you are engaged to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Misrepresenting your situation could cause serious problems later, if you apply for a fiancé(e) visa or marriage-based green card.

If questions are raised about your future plans, it’s helpful to be able to demonstrate a clear plan to return to your home country after your visit to the United States. Evidence of continuing employment or education, lease or other residential documents, and a return ticket can all be useful ways to show U.S. government officials that you genuinely intend to return home before your visa expires.

IMPORTANT: You must never misrepresent your reason for visiting the United States, either on an immigration form or before an immigration officer or a CBP agent. You also must never lie about being married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Any kind of misrepresentation could jeopardize your future eligibility for a green card.

Boundless stays with you until the green card finish line, helping you keep on top of follow-on forms and every other important milestone along your immigration journey. Learn more, or check your eligibility for free.


Visiting After Filing a K-1 Petition


If your fiancé(e) has already filed an I-129F petition on your behalf, things get more complicated. An I-129F petition provides clear evidence that you intend to come to the United States and remain permanently, which contradicts the intent of a temporary visa. That means that USCIS or CBP officials are likely to carefully scrutinize your situation before allowing you to enter the United States on a temporary visa.

The Department of State says that while I-129F petitioners are technically allowed to travel to the United States temporarily, doing so “is not advised” because of the questions raised by such travel. It’s possible to be denied a temporary visa, or to be turned away at a point of entry if a CBP officer thinks you might be planning to remain in the United States beyond the duration of your visa.

Your country of origin may also make a difference: U.S. government officials are more likely to allow visitors from trusted countries, such as those using the Visa Waiver Program, than those from countries with significant levels of visa fraud.

The best way to avoid problems is simply to put off your travel plans until your K-1 visa is approved. If you decide to travel anyway, make sure to bring clear evidence that you will return to your home country before your visa expires. Employment contracts, lease documents, and evidence of future travel plans are all useful.

IMPORTANT: You must never misrepresent your reason for visiting the United States, either on an immigration form or before an immigration officer or a CBP agent. You also must never lie about being married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Any kind of misrepresentation could jeopardize your future eligibility for a green card.

With Boundless, you get the confidence of an independent immigration attorney who will review all of your application materials and answer any questions you have — for no additional fee. Learn more about what you get with Boundless, or check your eligibility for free.


Visiting After Receiving a K-1 Visa


Once your I-129F is approved and you receive a K-1 visa, you won’t be able to come on temporary visits to the United States. Your K-1 visa is only good for a single entry, and can’t be re-used, so once you come to the United States on your K-1 you’ll need to stay until you get married.

There’s one exception to that rule: as a K-1 visa holder, you can use automatic visa revalidation to take short trips from the United States to Canada, Mexico, or certain neighboring islands, as long as you return within 30 days. There are some risks involved with this strategy, so make sure you understand how the process works before you leave the United States.

Remember, too, that your K-1 visa must be used to travel to the United States within 4 months of your I-129F petition’s approval, and that you must marry within 90 days of your arrival in the United States. If you don’t come to the United States and marry in that timeframe, you will need to start the process all over again.

IMPORTANT: You must never misrepresent your reason for visiting the United States, either on an immigration form or before an immigration officer or a CBP agent. You also must never lie about being married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Any kind of misrepresentation could jeopardize your future eligibility for a green card.

Once you’re married, you’ll need to apply for a marriage-based green card. Boundless takes all the required government forms, including the work permit application, and turns them into simple questions you can answer online — typically in under 2 hours. check your eligibility, or check your eligibility without providing any personal or financial information.


Marrying Without a K-1 Visa


It is possible to come to the United States on a temporary visa, such as a B-2 tourist visa, and to get married while you’re here. However, doing so can be risky. The USCIS officials who subsequently handle your green card application will look carefully to see if you misrepresented your intentions when you first entered the United States, and could deny you a green card and order you to leave the country if they decide you misled U.S. government officials.

To decide whether you misrepresented your intentions, USCIS officials will apply the “90-day rule,” under which marriages or green card applications that occur within 90 days of an immigrant’s arrival in the United States are subject to extra scrutiny.

To avoid problems, you would need to convince the officer deciding your case that you didn’t intend to marry or remain in the United States when you first arrived. That isn’t impossible, especially if you can show that your situation changed in some way after you first entered the United States, but there are no guarantees, and the final decision would rest with the officer who handles your application.

Because of that, it’s almost always preferable to use a K-1 visa if you’re planning to marry in the United States, or to wait until 90 days after arriving on a temporary visa before you get married or file for a green card.

IMPORTANT: You must never misrepresent your reason for visiting the United States, either on an immigration form or before an immigration officer or a CBP agent. You also must never lie about being married or engaged to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. Any kind of misrepresentation could jeopardize your future eligibility for a green card.

Do you have confidential questions about how your situation might affect your green card application? With Boundless, you get an independent immigration attorney who can help you understand your options. Find out more about what you get with Boundless, or check your eligibility for a green card now.