K-1 Visas: A Primer
A fiancé(e) visa, also known as a K-1 visa, allows a U.S. citizen to bring their non-citizen fiancé(e) to the United States so that they may get married. Once the couple is married, the new spouse can apply for a marriage-based green card from within the United States. K-1 visas can be an ideal option given that the process is generally faster than obtaining a marriage-based green card via consular processing, even with the delays currently experienced by USCIS. As a result, this allows the non-citizen fiancé(e) to enter the United States faster and unite with their partner. K-1 visas also provide the added benefit of employment authorization for 90 days (if work authorization was applied for) and can allow for children of non-citizen fiancé(e)s to also enter the U.S. on a visa called a K-2 visa.
To be eligible for the K-1 visa, the following general requirements must be met:
The sponsor for the K-1 visa must be a U.S. citizen. The K-1 visa is not available to Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders).
The parties intending to marry must do so within 90 days upon entering the United States.
The parties intending to marry are both legally free to marry (this means you both are legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
The parties intending to marry must prove the legitimacy of their relationship. This can be demonstrated using photos, flight itineraries, hotel reservations, written declarations from friends, family, and any other individuals who are aware of the relationship, etc.
The parties intending to marry must show that they have met once in person in the preceding two-year period prior to filing the application. A waiver of the in-person meeting requirement is available, in cases of extreme hardship to the U.S. Citizen petitioner or where meeting would violate strict and long-established customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
All requirements for the Affidavit of Support, including obtaining co-sponsors, if necessary, must be met
What happens if the couple does not marry within 90 days of entering the United States?
K-1 visas expire automatically after 90 days and cannot be extended. If the parties intending to marry fail to do so within this 90-day window, the non-citizen fiancé(e) must leave the United States. The failure to do so could result in violations of U.S. immigration law and may result in removal (deportation) and could affect their future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits. There may be ways around these harsh consequences so it is best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you find yourself outside of the 90-day marriage window.
The K-1 Visa Process can generally be broken down into five separate steps.
Form I-129F is filed with USCIS, petitioning for the non-citizen fiancé(e). Once approved, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Once the case is ready for processing, the U.S. Embassy or consulate where the non-citizen fiancé(e) lives will notify the sponsor and the fiancé(e) of their scheduled interview date. Form DS-160 must be properly prepared and submitted prior to the scheduled interview date.
Upon receiving the K-1 visa from the consulate or embassy, the non-citizen fiancé(e) must enter the U.S. at a lawful port of entry while the K-1 visa is valid.
Upon entering the U.S., the sponsor and non-citizen fiancé(e) must marry within 90 days.
Once married, the newly minted non-citizen spouse can apply for adjustment of status to obtain his/her marriage based green card.
Hire an Experienced Immigration Attorney to Handle your K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Case
If you are interested in bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States on a Fiancé(e) Visa, you need a qualified Immigration Attorney at your side to help you through the process. The process of sponsoring a non-citizen spouse can be taxing and can be fraught with complications. An experienced K-1 fiancé(e) Visa attorney can walk you through the process, step by step, to ensure your case is prepared with care.
Let The Law Office of George K. Gomez Help Determine if You Qualify for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
At The Law Office of George K. Gomez, our immigration attorneys can help you learn more about K-1 visas and whether you qualify for these, or other related benefits.
Call Us Today at (305) 539-0991 for a Free, no obligation, consultation in order to learn more about how we can help you. We offer immigration attorney services for our clients all over South Florida!