What is the K-1 Visa?
The K-1 Visa, or “fiancé visa”, is a nonimmigrant visa which is issued to a foreign national who wishes to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying a United States citizen.
Who is Eligible to Apply for a K-1 Visa?
The USCIS website details who is eligible to apply for a fiancé visa. A person may be eligible to apply if:
- They are a U.S. citizen;
- The person and their fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of their fiancé(e)’s admission to the United States on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa;
- The person and their fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry (this means they are both legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment); and
- The person and their fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before the petition is filed. The petitioning fiancé(e) may request a waiver of this in-person meeting requirement if they can show that meeting in person would:
- Violate strict and long-established customs of their fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; or
- Result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen petitioner.
What is the K-1 Visa Process?
The process for applying for a fiancé(e) visa involves three departments of the Government, (1) USCIS, (2) Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
The process is initiated when the petitioning fiancé(e) files Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), along with all supporting documentation. If the petition is approved by the USCIS, it will then be forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
Once received by the NVC, the approved application is then forwarded to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the petitioner’s fiancé(e) lives. The petitioner will be notified when an interview date becomes available for their fiancé(e). At this stage, the petitioner’s fiancé(e) can apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and bring all their supporting documentation to the interview. If the consular officer determines that the individual is eligible for a K-1 visa, they will grant the visa, which can be valid for up to six months for a single entry.
Keep in mind that the visa alone, does not guarantee entry into the United States. Customs and Border Patrol makes the final decision at the port of entry where the petitioner’s fiancé(e) enters for whether to admit the fiancé into the United States. Once in the U.S., the U.S. citizen and their fiancé(e) have 90 days to marry each other.
What Happens After the Marriage?
If the couple gets married within the 90 days, the U.S. citizen’s spouse may apply for their Green Card by filing Form I-485, Adjustment of Status with the USCIS, along with any pertinent fees and supporting documentation. Once processed, USCIS will schedule an interview with the U.S. Citizen and their spouse. If both parties have been married for less than two years at the time of a successful I-485 filing, USCIS will grant the foreign spouse a conditional green card which is valid for two years. These conditions can be removed after meeting residency requirements and by filing Form I-751, Petition to Removal Conditions on Residence in the ninety days before the conditional green card expires.
Applying for a fiancé visa can be quite the undertaking. Consulting with an immigration lawyer is recommended. An immigration attorney can assist you with completing all the necessary applications and supporting documentation and with creating a custom-tailored solution to your immigration needs. To arrange an initial consultation, please contact Gilles Law, PLLC at our office in Uptown Charlotte at 980-272-8438.
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