The fiancé visa, known as a K-1 visa, is filed by a U.S. citizen who wishes to bring a foreign national into the country to marry. After the marriage, your foreign national may immediately apply for employment authorization and legal permanent residency (i.e., a “green card”).
The team at the George McCranie Law Firm has earned an international reputation for our professional assistance and streamlined processing for K- 1 visa petitions. We have successfully helped men and women from all fifty states sponsor foreign-born fiancées from all around the globe join them in the U.S. Contact our office today for more information.
Fiancé Visa: The Basics
The K-1 visa allows a foreign national fiancé to enter the U.S. to be with an intended U.S. citizen spouse prior to marriage. Following marriage, the foreign national can remain in the U.S. and pursue a green card. If the foreign national fiancé is already living in the U.S. in a valid immigration status or if the marriage will take place outside of the U.S., the K-1 visa is not necessary.
Further, a K-1 fiancé visa is really only appropriate if the foreign national fiancé intends to remain in the U.S. and apply for permanent residency after the marriage. If not, the foreign national may only need to obtain a tourist visa or enter the U.S. on the visa waiver program. In this case, the foreign national might apply for permanent residency later, following a different procedure.
Fiancé Visa Requirements
The requirements for a K-1 fiancé visa are fairly simple, but are discussed in greater detail below.
As a U.S. citizen, to petition for a K-1 visa, you must file form I-129(F), Petition for Alien Fiancé. Once approved, your fiancé will visit the U.S. consulate abroad to obtain the visa. If your fiancé has a child under the age of 21, that child may be eligible for a K-2 derivative visa.
Please note that the information provided here is general in nature. Immigration law can be incredibly complex. You should seek the advice and assistance of an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing any forms with the USCIS or DOS. This is especially true if your foreign national fiancé has a history of immigration or criminal law issues.
To petition for a fiancé visa, you must prove each of the following:
- You are a citizen of the United States;
- You intend to marry within 90 days from when your fiancé enters the U.S.;
- You have physically met your fiancé within the past two years; and
- You and your fiancé are both legally entitled to marry.
U.S. Citizen Petitioner
The first requirement for a K-1 visa is that the petitioner be a citizen of the United States. Petitioners who are legal permanent residents, legal nonimmigrants, beneficiaries of deferred action, or are any other immigrant group may NOT file for a K-1 visa. To prove U.S. citizenship, you must provide a copy of your U.S. passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate.
Marriage within 90 Days
The K-1 visa requires that the marriage takes place within 90 days of the foreign national fiancé entering the U.S.
To provide that you plan to marry within 90 days, consider providing evidence such as church and hall rentals, catering contracts, cake orders, dress purchases, etc. can establish date-specific wedding plans. Additionally, affidavits that you plan to marry, applications for marriage licenses, etc., are valid for less extravagant affairs.
For a practical perspective, you should remember that processing times for K-1 visa approval can vary widely. As such, you should negotiate flexibility into any wedding service contracts you sign. Also, please note that the K-1 visa may not be extended. Your fiancé will only be allowed to enter the U.S. for 90 days. After that period expires, your fiancé will have to apply for permanent residency (following your actual marriage) or depart the U.S.
Physical Meeting within Last 2 Years
The K-1 visa requires that the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign national fiancé have met physically during the two years prior to filing the petition. To prove this, you should submit airline itineraries, hotel receipts, photos of the two of you together, pertinent affidavits from family and friends, etc.
There are two exceptions to this requirement. If your culture prohibits meeting prior to marriage or if you/your fiancé has a disability that prohibits you from physically meeting, the physical meeting requirement may be waived. These cases require specific arguments that can be difficult to make. If you have one of these trickier K-1 visa cases, consult the George McCranie Law Firm for immediate assistance.
Legally Able to Marry
Finally, both the U.S. citizen and foreign national fiancé must be legally able to marry each other. You must comply with any other marriage requirements of the state in which you intend to be married.
If either party was previously married, you must prove that the previous marriage has legally ended by providing copies of death records, divorce decrees, or documentation of annulments.
Again, the requirements listed here are general in nature and intended for informational purposes only. We are here to help. The team at the George McCranie Law Firm is experienced at K-1 fiancé visa cases. As noted, we have successfully helped men and women from all fifty states sponsor foreign-born fiancés from all around the globe join them in the U.S., and we can help you. Contact our office for more information today.