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K1 Visa Basics
Immigration law is a branch of law concerning the movement of persons be it temporary or permanent residency. Immigration in the United States is governed by the President and the federal courts. They take into consideration the laws and international agreements such as the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which took effect way back 1976.
Acquiring a K-1 Fiancé Visa
The United States is a free democratic country that gives equal opportunities and conditions for its citizens. There are various ways to become a US citizen, with marriage with a US citizen being one of the fastest ways. A fiancé visa is a nonimmigrant visa allowing a foreigner to enter the United States as a K-1 nonimmigrant to marry their intended spouse.
Requirements for a K-1 Fiancé Visa
To be eligible for acquiring this kind of visa, a person:
- Must intend to marry a US citizen. The United States is very strict when it comes to fictitious marriages and violators of the immigration laws will result in a fine and ban on entry to the country. Hence, it is important that before the petition is filed and the procedure for issuing a visa is started, evidence on serious intentions on marriage and sincerity of relations must be provided.
- Must have met with the fiancé within the last two years. While it is important to have complied with this requirement, there are exceptions in which this provision will not apply such as arranged marriages where cultural customs are shown. Extreme hardships are also within the exceptions if there are medical or emergencies that prevent them from seeing each other for the last 2 years.
- Must be legally able to marry. To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you must be first eligible to marry. If you were previously married, a judicial decree for a divorce must be provided, or in cases where you are a widower, a death certificate must be shown. Not being legally able to marry is subject to disqualification for this visa.
Petition for a K-1 Fiancé Visa
An American Citizen must be the one to file the petition for a Form I-129F at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After consideration, the USCIS office will forward the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) which will process and send the documents to the US embassy where the alien fiancé is located. After this, the Consular Section of the US Embassy will send a letter to the foreigner instructing her to provide the necessary documents for the visa application. Such documents include:
- An affidavit from both parties saying they intend to marry each other within 3 months after entry to the US
- Proof that they met in person in the last 2 years except in cases where the exception is applied
- Proof of eligibility for marriage
- Birth certificate and passport
- Divorce decree or Death certificate if there are previous marriages, and
- An affidavit of support that the US citizen can and will financially support the spouse.
Adjustment of Status
Upon marriage within the 3 months, your spouse can now apply for a green card through a Form I-485. The USCIS will review the form and documents before you and your spouse will be required to appear for an interview. If you were married for less than 2 years at the time the Form I-485 is approved, the spouse will be granted a conditional permanent resident status valid for 2 years. The spouse will then need to file for a Form-I-751, removing the conditions imposed on his or her residence before they lose a green card. Only then may your spouse be given a permanent resident card as a US citizen through naturalization.
If the fiancé has children who are under 21 years old and unmarried, they may be eligible for a K-2 nonimmigrant visa. The term “children” include the fiancé’s natural kids, adopted kids, and kids born out of wedlock. In cases where the children are below 21 but under 18 years old, they may still be allowed to enter the country but as a K-2 dependent. If the children is close to turning to 21, the immigration must be notified and request that they expedite the process which they often do. Immigration law is an evolving law and there have been litigations concerning this issue. If you are unsure of what to do, contacting an immigration attorney will be very helpful.
Permission to work
Upon being admitted to the US, the fiancé may immediately apply for a Form I-785 which is an application for employment authorization. In cases like this, the employment status of the fiancé is only valid for 3 months. The fiancé or spouse may also apply for work authorization the same time they apply for a green card, the validity of the authorization will be for one year, subject to extension.
Consulting with Immigration Attorneys
Immigration laws are very complex and sorting it out on your own may be very tricky and confusing. We at Diener Law, an immigration law firm, can provide you with information and viable options in acquiring a K-1 visa for your fiance and getting him or her a permanent residency. Our immigration lawyers are knowledgeable of the immigration system and have vast experience in handling issues of immigration, legal representation, and naturalization. Contact us now for a free immigration law consultation.