Yes. A Canadian can marry an American without a visa as long as the intention is not to marry and stay permanently in the US. Coming into the US on a visitor visa with the primary aim to get married and then file for adjustment of status is more or less considered visa fraud, and immigration officers in the United States do not take issues about visa fraud lightly.
If a Canadian citizen wants to marry an American inside the United States, then applying for a K-1 visa at a U.S. consulate is the most reasonable step to take. An American who marries a Canadian will have to apply for an immigrant visa if staying outside Canada or may have to apply for permanent residence from within Canada if currently residing in Canada.
Note there is no longer a fiancé visa in Canada. For an engaged partner of an American to enter the United States and get married no more than 90 days later, he or she will require a K-1 visa. After the marriage, the newly married spouse can then apply for permanent residence based on marriage.
Notably, fiancé (K-1) visas are issued to non-U.S. citizens to enter the U.S. to marry an American. A K-1 visa will allow a Canadian citizen (or citizens of other countries with status in Canada) to remain in the U.S. and apply for permanent resident status following the marriage.
To obtain a K-1 visa, you need to go through the full process same as other nationals. The process tends to include submitting a petition (Form I-129F) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and then applying to a U.S. consulate in Canada for the K-1 visa.
Although there is room to adjust status from a tourist visa or visa waiver after getting married in the US, you should be able to prove that you entered the US with honest visitor intentions and the decision to stay permanently and/or get married was made well after entering the country.
Requirements for K-1Visa
The requirements to apply for a K-1 visa include:
- The sponsoring partner will have to be a U.S. citizen. U.S. green card holders (permanent residents) are not eligible to sponsor a fiancé for a K1 visa.
- Both partners will need to be qualified to marry. This simply means that both must be currently unmarried. Any prior divorce decrees, annulments, or death certificates will need to be made available to prove that any previous marriages have been terminated.
- These visas are available to same-sex partners, irrespective of whether the laws in the sponsored fiancé’s home country allow for sex-same marriage.
- The legitimacy of the relationship will have to be proved with evidence like photographs, flight itineraries, and/or hotel reservations of trips taken together as a couple, written statements from friends and colleagues who are in the known of the engagement, letters, or emails between the partners, etc.
- The couple will also have to prove that they have met in person at least one time within the two years before filing the visa form (except for cases of extreme hardship, or where in-person meetings would violate cultural, religious, or social norms). Evidence may include flight itineraries, hotel itineraries, dated photos, etc.
- Each partner will also need to show a signed statement noting the intent to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s arrival in the United States. If solid wedding plans have been made, it is recommended you submit evidence such as wedding invitations, receipts of deposits on a venue, etc.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé will also be expected to meet certain income requirements. Most often, the adjusted gross income on their most recent tax return will be expected to equal at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If they fail to meet this requirement alone, a joint financial sponsor will have to file a supplemental “affidavit of support.”
Steps to Apply for a K-1 Visa as a Canadian
Have it in mind that K-1 visas are issued in Canada at the U.S. Consulates General in Montreal and Vancouver. If you are looking to apply, here are steps to guide you;
Complete the Form I-129F
To start your application, the U.S. citizen fiancé will have to first file Form I-129F with USCIS. Note that the main objective of this form is to prove the validity of the relationship. You will need to attach the following supporting documents to the completed form as evidence:
- Proof of citizenship for the U.S. citizen fiancé (copy of a passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate)
- Copy of the sponsored fiancé’s passport
- Proof of the legitimacy of the relationship (photos, correspondence, sworn statements from friends and colleagues, etc.)
- Proof of having met in person at least one time within the two years before filing the form (flight itineraries, hotel itineraries, photos, correspondence, etc.)
- Sworn statements, written by and signed by each partner, with a concise description of the nature of the relationship and the intent to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s arrival in the United States.
- Copy of any Form I-94 arrival-departure record previously issued to the sponsored fiancé.
- One passport-style photo of the U.S. citizen fiancé and one passport-style photo of the sponsored fiancé.
Once the USICS receives the form and supporting documents, they will send a receipt notice within 30 days. Also, note that they may send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they require more information. Once Form I-129F gets approved, the USCIS will forward an approval notice.
Fill out Form DS-160
Once Form I-129F gets approved, within 30 days the sponsored fiancé will receive a notice from the U.S. consulate. This notice will include the date and location of the visa interview and a list of documents to come with. The sponsored fiancé will also be expected to fill out the State Department’s online DS-160 form (also referred to as the “Online Non-immigrant Visa Application”).
Note that this is the main K-1 visa application, and it’s recommended you print the confirmation page once the form has been submitted online. Most often, both parties will be required to present the following documents:
- Two passport-style photos
- Birth certificate
- Valid, unexpired passport
- Police clearance obtained from all countries of residence of more than six months since the age of 16
- Sealed medical exam form (obtained through a physician abroad who is authorized by the State Department)
- Affidavit of support (Form I-134)
- Most recent tax returns
- Proof of relationship (copy of the approved I-129F package originally filed with USCIS)
The visa interview will be at the U.S. consulate in Montreal, usually within 4–6 weeks after the embassy’s initial notice. The interviewing officer will be tasked with deciding on the case either the same day of the interview or shortly afterward. If there is a need for additional evidence, they will ask that it be submitted directly to the U.S. consulate.
Arrival and Marriage
As long as you meet all requirements, the K-1 visa will be approved, and the sponsored fiancé will be allowed a total of six months from the date of approval of the initial I-129F form to travel to the United States.
Once they get into the US, the couple will have to tie the knot within 90 days, or the sponsored fiancé will lose their K-1 status. If for any reason the couple decides not to get married, the sponsored partner will no longer be eligible to stay in the United States and will have to leave the country immediately.