Non-citizens who plan to marry a United States citizen but do not have citizenship can apply for a K-1 visa. Eligible individuals must obtain a marriage certificate within three months of the visa holder’s arrival to the U.S. 

Once in the U.S. with a visa, the person can apply for permanent residency. 

Eligibility requirements

This program is available when both people can legally marry in the U.S. The couple must have met in person one or more times during the 24 months before filing a fiance visa petition. They must also be able to prove that they have a genuine relationship that does not exist for the purpose of immigration benefits. If either person previously married someone else, he or she must have proof of annulment or divorce. 

Application process

First, the couple must complete Form I-129F. This petition requires proof that one member of the couple is a U.S. citizen, a photo of each person (passport-size) and other required documents requested by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This form also requires a filing fee of $535. 

After the couple files the completed petition, USCIS will review the documents and may request additional information. If the review indicates initial approval, the applicant must attend a scheduled interview at the U.S. Embassy in his or her home country. 

Once the person receives a K-1 visa, he or she has six months to enter the U.S. After getting married, he or she can start the Green Card process to apply for permanent residency by filing USCIS Form I-485.