Here’s the next installment in our series of blog posts about consular team members’ experiences in the United States.
In June 2013 I got engaged to my boyfriend, who I met through work. I’m British, and he’s American. Before we could plan the wedding, we had to decide where we wanted to live. We decided that we would move to America, and the next step was the visa.
I knew that there were two ways I could move to the United States: either with a K-1 visa as the fiancée of a U.S. citizen (meaning we would have to marry within 90 days of my entering the United States), or we could marry in the UK and then he would file a petition for me to apply for an immigrant visa as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. We decided to get married in the UK, so I now need an immigrant visa (IV).
Before planning the wedding, we had to check the requirements for foreign citizens marrying here. The last thing we wanted was for him not to make it to the church because he had been denied entry into the country! The UK government website, www.gov.uk, and the Embassy webpage, http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/scs/marriage_and_civil_partners.html, were particularly helpful. My fiancé applied to the UK Visas and Immigration Service (UKVI) and, once approved, was issued with a “visitor to marry” visa. He came to the United Kingdom about a month before the wedding to take care of the UK legal bits, like giving notice and meeting the celebrant. At least we didn’t need to make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy – U.S. citizens don’t need to register their marriage there. Finally, after lots of hard work and planning, we were married in June 2014
On his return to the United States, my husband filed a petition for me with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is currently being processed. We had already lived apart for three years, and now we have to wait a bit longer for the immigrant visa. The whole process takes about 12 months from the date the petition is filed. It isn’t easy living so far apart but we know there is an end in sight now. Still, I will not be booking my flight to move to the U.S. until my visa has been approved and I have received my passport.
Thinking of relocating to the United States? You’ll need an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa too! Check out our website at http://london.usembassy.gov/immigrant-visas.html for a full list of the available visa classifications, including specific information for those engaged or married to a U.S. citizen.
If you want to visit the United States for a wedding ceremony (either to get married or as a wedding guest) after which you will leave the U.S. to go home, use our wizard at http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/vwp.html to see if you may be eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. If not, you should apply for a B-2 (tourist) visa. Our website athttp://london.usembassy.gov/niv/niv_visa_categories.html has detailed information about the visa application process in London and Belfast.