Congratulations on your engagement! You are probably full of excitement, wondering how the two of you will spend the rest of your life together. But before you can tie the knot, you must first navigate the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fiancé(e) visa application process, in order to bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States.
Florida’s leading immigration law firm, Isa Law, is pleased to share the ABCs of K-1 visas, a comprehensive guide to fiancé(e) visa filings. Please note that this guide is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as definitive legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney like Isa Law before filing any application with USCIS.
What is a K-1 Visa?
A K-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. citizens to bring their fiancé(e) into the country, with the intention of getting married within 90 days after the foreign national’s arrival in the U.S.
If the U.S. citizen and foreign national decide not to get married within 90 days, the foreign fiancé(e) must leave the United States, or else, he or she will be in violation of U.S. immigration laws and subject to deportation proceedings. On the other hand, if the couple does get married within those 90 days, then the foreign national can apply for a green card (adjustment of status) through USCIS.
What are the Requirements for a Fiancé(e) Visa?
The following are the general eligibility requirements for a K-1 visa:
- The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age.
- The petitioner must have the intention to marry his or her foreign fiancé(e) within 90 days of entry into the United States.
- The petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) must have met in person within the 2-year period prior to filing the petition (unless meeting would violate strict and long-established customs of the specific culture or social practice of either party’s ethnic origin).
- Both parties must be legally able to marry at the time of filing. If previously married, applicants are required to show proof that all marriages have been legally terminated.
- Applicants are required to prove that they will not marry for the sole purpose of circumventing U.S. immigration laws, by demonstrating that their marriage is legitimate and in good faith.
Process of Obtaining a K-1 Visa
The process of obtaining a K-1 visa can be broken down into five steps:
Step 1 – Petition for Fiancé(e)
The first step is for the U.S citizen to file a petition with USCIS, requesting that his or her foreign fiancé(e) be allowed entry into the United States as a non-immigrant. The petitioner needs to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) along with other supporting documentation.
Step 2 – Visa Application
Once Form I-129F has been approved by USCIS, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which forwards it to the embassy or consulate nearest to your foreign fiancé(e)’s home country for further processing.
At this point, your foreign fiancé(e) will be invited to the embassy or consulate for an interview and asked to present additional documentation to prove his or her eligibility for the K-1 visa. If the consulate determines that your foreign fiancé(e) is eligible to enter the United States, they will issue the K-1 visa and notify both the petitioner and applicant. The K-1 visa is valid for up to 6 months for a single entry.
Step 3 – Arrival in the United States
Upon arrival at any port-of-entry in the United States, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will review your foreign fiancé(e)’s K-1 visa and other supporting documents to make sure that all requirements for his or her entry in the U.S. are met. If everything is in order, your foreign fiancé(e) will be admitted into the country for 90 days.
Step 4 – Marriage within 90 Days of Entry
You and your foreign fiancé(e) need to get married within 90 days from the date of his or her arrival in the United States. If for any reason you are unable to get married within the 90-day period, your foreign fiancé(e) has to return to his or her home country.
Step 5 – Adjustment of Status Application
Once the marriage has taken place, your foreign fiancé(e)—now your spouse—can file for permanent residency (a green card) with USCIS. This is done by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Please note that the process of filing for a fiancé(e) visa is different from obtaining your spouse’s green card through adjustment of status. If you’d like to know more about the process of adjusting status, you may check out Isa Law’s website for more information.
How Long Does it Take to Get a K-1 Visa?
The length of time it takes for your fiancé(e) to obtain a visa depends on the country where he or she is applying from. On average, applicants can expect this process to take at least six months but there is no guarantee that your petition will be approved within that timeframe as processing times vary from office to office.
What is a K-2 Visa?
If your foreign fiancé(e) has children from a previous relationship, they can also come to the United States on a K-2 visa. This means that your fiancé(e) will be allowed to bring their children along with them when they arrive in the United States, as long as you are willing and able to financially support all of these individuals during their stay. In order to qualify for a K-2 visa, your foreign fiancé(e)’s children must be unmarried and under the age of 21.
Seek Legal Advice from an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Just like any other U.S. visa application, filing for a K-1 visa requires careful preparation and documentation. If you are not confident in your ability to properly file for a K-1 visa, you should seek professional legal assistance from an experienced immigration law office like Isa Law.
Isa Law is a top-rated immigration law firm that has helped thousands of individuals and families successfully file for various types of family-based and employment-based U.S. visas. They have decades of experience in the industry and have the knowledge and expertise necessary to help your foreign fiancé(e) successfully apply for a K-1 visa.
Contact Isa Law today at (305) 938-067 for a free initial consultation.