Even under ideal circumstances, getting married requires a great deal of planning and effort. Marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreign national requires more. If you are currently engaged to a citizen of a foreign nation, minimize any unnecessary delays and talk to an experienced immigration lawyer long before you actually plan to marry.
At MJLAW., we have been helping hundreds of individuals to obtain their K-1 fiancée visa. Immigration is the only type of law we practice and our experience with all aspects of it, including helping U.S. citizens and foreign nationals navigate the immigration process, can make a tremendous difference for you.
The following information is intended to provide you with general information about the K-1 visa. For answers to other questions or to start working on a petition, contact us directly to schedule a consultation.
What is the K-1 Visa?
The purpose of the K-1 visa is to bring the fiance/fiancee of a US Citizen to the United States so they can get married here, instead of forcing the US Citizen to go all the way to the foreign country just to get married.
The advantages of the K-1 over getting married first are:
1- The consular of a fiancé is faster than the processing of a spouse. A fiancé typically has the interview within 8 to 10 months as opposed to 12 months for a spouse. Many times, the main consideration is to get the person in the US as fast as possible so the couple can get together.
2- The US Citizen doesn’t have to go to the foreign country just to get married and come right back. He/She many not have the money or the time to travel.
3- If the US Citizen got political asylum previously, he or she may no be able to travel to that country to get married and many countries have restrictions on non-residents getting married there.
Now, the process itself is complicated. In a nutshell, the process is to first file the fiancé case, which is similar to filing a spouse consular case. After the consular interview, which can only be done in consulates or embassies that handle permanent residence interviews, the beneficiary is given the K-1 visa and six months time to enter the US. The beneficiary then has to get married within 90 days of the arrival.
Now, if the fiancé decides not to get married, he/she cannot change status to any other type of non-immigrant visa or do an adjustment of status within the US, except through the person that originally filed the K-1 visa petition.
The fiancé can marry someone else, but has to leave the US and have another consular interview in order to return to the US. The same restriction applies to K-2 visas for unmarried children under 21 who can accompany the parent to the US.
If they get married, we prepare and file the adjustment of status case at which time we can apply for an employment authorization card to work, and an advanced parole to travel outside the US while they are awaiting the adjustment of status interview. Only single minor children can get the residence card along with the parent.
One thing people need to realize is that if someone is getting residence through a spouse, if on the date the case is approved (which is often the date of the interview) the beneficiary has been married for less than 2 years, he/she will get a conditional resident card, not the 10 year permanent resident card.
I-751: Removal of conditions for the 2 year conditional green card
The alien spouse will need to file an I-751 (Removal of Conditions) toward the end of the 2 years to continue to the permanent residency. Any accompanying children will get the 2 year conditional resident card too, and if the restriction is removed on the parent’s residency, it will also be removed on the children’s one.
If you do everything properly, there is no interruption in your ability to work and travel during this transition. If you do not file the I-751 on time, within usually a couple of months, the USCIS will send you a Notice to Appear (NTA) putting you in removal (deportation) proceedings. You never want to see one of those letters!.
How to get the K-1 Marriage Visa:
The K-1 visa process is rather long and arduous. However, we will be happy to see you and your fiancé(e) through the process and make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. Mishandling of the K-1 fiancée visa application may result in lost time, visa denials or arrest and deportation of the fiancé(e) where the USCIS suspects fraud.
US citizens who will be getting married to a foreign national in the United States may petition for a fiancé(e) classification (K-1) for their fiancé(e). You and your fiancé(e) must be free to marry. This means that both of you are unmarried, or that any previous marriages have ended through divorce, annulment or death. You must also have met with your fiancé(e) in person within the last two years before filing for the fiancé(e) visa. This requirement can be waived only if meeting your fiancé(e) in person would violate long-established customs, or if meeting your fiancé(e) would create extreme hardship for you. You and your fiancé(e) must marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e) entering the United States.
You may also apply to bring your fiancée's unmarried children, who are under age 21, to the United States.
Before filing an I-130 petition for permanent residence for an adopted child, the US Citizen or Permanent Resident must meet the following two conditions:
1- The child must have been adopted before he/she was 16 years old
2- The petitioner must have had at least 2 years actual physical as well as legal custody of the adopted child.
This means that if you go to a foreign country to adopt a child, you have to somehow get the child to the US and get the 2 years actual physical custody here, unless you either are willing to go to the foreign country and get the 2 years actual custody or unless you have had at least 2 years actual custody of the child sometime in the past and you can prove it. The 2 year actual custody can be before you got the legal custody.