A K-1 visa is commonly known as a fiancé visa. It is the status an American citizen uses to lawfully bring their fiancé to the United States. The intent of the visa is that the fiancé enters the United States shortly before marriage.
AM I ELIGIBLE?
To be eligible for K-1 status, you must be the fiancé of an American citizen. The citizen must intend to marry their fiancé within 90 days of their entry to the United States. Both parties must be legally eligible to marry. That is, neither one can be currently married, and all divorces or annulments must be complete.
Generally, you must write provide proof that you met your fiancé face-to-face in the last two years. There are a few exceptions to this rule: first, if you show you or your fiancé’s religious customs prevent an in person meeting, you can get a waiver. Second, if meeting in person would be an extreme hardship for you, you can demonstrate how it would be hardship and receive a waiver.
HOW DO I APPLY?
It is the American citizen that begins the process by filing a petition, I- 129F. There is an application fee of approximately $535. The form asks for information about both you and your fiancé.
This information includes your address history, physical characteristics and contact information. An immigration paralegal at Visa Legal Team can help you make sure you’ve completed the form properly. Errors can result in a refusal.
WHAT IF THEY HAVE KIDS?
In cases where you plan to marry someone with minor children, you can apply for them too. Your future spouse receives a K-1 visa while their children receive a K-2 visa. If you are already married, you are eligible to bring your spouse to the United States with a K-3 visa. In that case, their children enter with K-4 visa.
WHAT IF MY FIANCÉ ALREADY LIVES HERE?
If your fiancé is already a legal resident of the United States, they do not qualify for K-1 status. This is the case even if they are not an American citizen. An immigration paralegal at Visa Legal Team can help you evaluate your case to see if there is anything else that you should do.
AFTER THEY ARRIVE
Your fiancé can file paperwork for permission to work as soon as they enter the United States. This is called an application for employment authorization. The application goes to your local USCIS service center.
The original work authorization is valid as long as the K-1 status is valid, which is 90 days. As soon as you marry, your spouse can apply to extend the work permission. To do that, they need forms I-765 and I-485.
AFTER THE MARRIAGE
Once you marry, you can work with an immigration paralegal at Visa Legal Team in order to amend your new spouse’s status to permanent resident. It is important to get this done before the K-1 period expires. If it expires, you may have start the process all over with a new petition in many cases, but this adds time to an already lengthy process.
WHAT IF WE DO NOT MARRY?
In cases where you do not end up getting married, your fiancé needs to depart after the 90-day period ends. If they do not leave voluntarily, they could get deported. This might affect their chances to lawfully immigrate to United States in the future.
HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION PARALEGAL HELP?
An immigration paralegal can evaluate your entire situation and give you a recommendation for a course of action that best meets your needs and goals. They can make sure that your paperwork is complete and accurate. In addition, they can give you a realistic idea of what to expect from the process, so that you can have confidence in the choices you are making as you plan your future.