As some in Kentucky may say, "Love knows no bounds" -- even geographic ones. It is not unusual for a person in the United States to fall in love with someone who lives in another country. When that happens, the couple may wish to marry in the United States and start the process of naturalization for the foreign-born partner. However, in order to do so the foreign-born partner will first need to obtain a fiancé€ visa, if they are not currently living legally in the U.S.
The form that is necessary to apply for a fiancé(e) visa is the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. The couple must have the intention of getting married within 90 days of the foreign-born partner's entrance into the U.S. In addition, the parties must both be legally free to get married. This means that any previous marriages have been legally terminated through annulment, death or divorce.
Also, to obtain a fiancé(e) visa, the parties must have met each other in person one time or more within two years of the filing of the application for a fiancé(e) visa. That being said, this requirement may be waived in two circumstances. One is if doing so would be in violation of a long-established and strict custom of either party's culture. Also the in-person meeting requirement may be waived if the petitioner can prove it would cause him or her to suffer an extreme hardship.
After a fiancé(e) visa is issued, the U.S. citizen's fiancé(e) is permitted to stay in the U.S. for 90 days, wherein the parties will get married. After the parties are married, the foreign-born spouse can apply for permanent residency. However, if the parties do not marry within the 90-day timeframe permitted by the fiancé(e) visa, the fiancé(e) will have to leave the country. The failure to do so could result in the fiancé(e) being deported, which could negatively affect his or her eligibility to immigrate to the United States in the future.
As this shows, it is possible for a foreign-born fiancé(e) to obtain a visa that will allow them to marry in the U.S. and start the path towards naturalization. Those who have questions about this or other family immigration matters are encouraged to seek the help they need to better understand the process.
Source: USCIS.gov, "Fiancé(e) Visas," accessed on Jan. 29, 2018