It was a fairy-tale romance. You met each other while flying over the Atlantic, had a whirlwind romance, made the inter-continental relationship work for long enough. You want to live in the same country now, preferably have your significant other move to the United States and have the Golden Gate bridge in the background as you tie the knot. What do you do to make that happen?
The USCIS directions aren't exactly the pinnacle of romantic courtship. However, romance alone will not get you that fiancé visa, so here are some tips that should assist you with your application:
1. The first step is taken by the partner who is a US citizen. The petition will be filed by them and like all other paperwork filed with USCIS should be error-free and comprehensive in the information provided.
2. The citizen-fiancé should have tangible proof of both partners being free to marry without legal restrictions, and proof of at least one in-person meeting in the past 2 years. Prepare a strong application by having itineraries of travels together, or other tangible dated documents that would establish such a meeting. If either partner had a previous marriage, documentation showing that the marriage has been completely dissolved will be required.
3. Familiarize yourself with all the steps involved in the application process - there are quite a few. The process in its entirety can take anywhere between 4-10 months depending on the processing time of the immigrating fiancé's processing embassy.
4. Communicate with friends and family to gather information and documentation that will communicate to a stranger the existence of an actual relationship between partners. Embassy officials are concerned with weeding out fraudulent cases. This can be established by showing photographs together, correspondence between you two, evidence of monetary transactions between you two, phone bills showing calls to each other, among other things. This list is by no means exhaustive, but is a good starting point for building a strong case.
5. The end result of this visa is marriage. While it is easy to get caught up in the romantic notions of your past courtship leading up to this juncture in your life, you will be better equipped if you approach the interview process bilaterally. For every memory you have of each other, find a tangible document that would establish the definite occurrence of that event. For example, if you have a favorite cafe that you frequented when visiting each other, dig up receipts that would show the same transaction corresponding with each visit.
People usually get caught up in the romantic notions of their relationship and expect to stand on the merits of that alone. While that is understandable, it is important to realize that the purpose of embassy officials is to weed out fraudulent cases. The best way to do this is to tell a story, but be able to back your story with pictures, phone records, trips together, all compiled and conveyed to officials in a way that will establish a relationship that clearly seems to be on the path to married life.
The USCIS website answers a few basic questions that should assist you when you start preparing your application. Think of this as another "meet the parents", you can do this. Be calm, make a good impression, and start ringing in the wedding registry. If we can help along the way, please don't hesitate to reach out. Good luck!