Immigration: Fiancé Visas (K-1)
Getting engaged is usually a joyful and exciting event. If your spouse-to-be is a citizen of another country, however, things can get complicated quickly. If you are a U.S. citizen, and you are engaged to a citizen of another country, that person may be eligible for a green card. This does not mean that your fiancé can simply travel to the United States and apply for a green card. Even if your fiancé has a tourist, or other non-immigrant visa, he or she cannot use that visa to travel to the United States if their intent is to get married and apply for permanent residency. This is because most non-immigrant visas, including the tourist visa, require applicants to demonstrate that they intend only to stay in the United States temporarily. If you then enter, or attempt to enter, the country intending to get married and live here permanently, you have violated the requirements of that non-immigrant visa – which can have very serious consequences.
To avoid this issue, you can apply for a K-1 visa, commonly known as a fiancé visa. The K-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa but, unlike other non-immigrant visas, the purpose of this visa is specifically to allow the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States with the intent to get married and apply for a green card. The K-1 visa is not the same as obtaining an immigrant visa for a spouse, or other family member. The most notable difference is their status upon entry. If your relative’s Immigrant Visa is approved, he or she will enter the United States as a permanent resident. With the K-1 visa, your fiancé enters on a non-immigrant visa that is only valid for 90 days. If you get married in that 90-day period, your spouse will then be eligible to apply for a green card.
How can I bring my fiancé to the U.S.?
The K-1 visa, commonly known as a fiancé visa, allows a U.S. citizen to petition for their fiancé to travel to the US to get married. This visa is not available to the fiancés of Permanent Residents. To qualify for a fiancé visa, you must be engaged at the time of filing and be able to provide evidence of your relationship. You also must be able to show that you and your fiancé have met in person within the last two years. If you have been unable to meet in person due to culture or religious reasons, or because it would cause extreme hardship to do so, you may be able to have this requirement waived.
Can I bring my fiancé’s family over too?
If your fiancé has unmarried children under the age of 21, they may be also be eligible to come to the United State on the fiancé visa. This can include adopted children, if the adoption is legally recognized in their home country. To qualify to accompany your fiancé, the children must be named in the K-1 visa petition. Once the K-1 petition is approved, they will need to obtain their own entry visa (known as a K-2 visa) through the consulate. The children of a K-1 visa beneficiary must apply for, and obtain, their K-2 visa within one year of the date the K-1 visa was issued to their parent. If more than a year elapses, their parent will have to file a separate petition to bring their children to the United States, either as the child of a Permanent Resident or, in some cases, as the step-child of a U.S. citizen.
What happens after the K-1 petition is approved?
After your K-1 petition has been approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for processing and, ultimately, to the appropriate U.S. Consulate in your fiancé’s home country. The consulate will then provide your fiancé with instructions on what they needs to do to continue their visa application. Ultimately, your fiancé will be scheduled for an interview with a Consular Officer. During this interview your fiancé will be asked questions about their background, as well as your relationship and plans for getting married.
If all goes well at the consular interview, your fiancé will be issued a K-1 visa, which will allow them to travel to the United States. Once your fiancé arrives in the United States, the visa will only be valid for 90 days. This means that from the date your fiancé enters the United States, you will have 90 days to get married. Once you are married, your fiancé can apply for a green card (adjustment of status).