Congratulations! You have just been engaged to the man or woman of your dreams, who happens to live in another country. As a United States (“U.S.”) citizen, you are now confronted with the problem of how to reunite with your significant other in the U.S. One option for bringing your fiancé to the U.S. is the K-1 fiancé non-immigrant visa, which applies to couples who are not yet married.
The basic eligibility requirements for a K-1 visa are:
- The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen;
- The petitioner and fiancé must intend to marry within 90 days of the fiancé entering the United States;
- Both parties must have legal capacity to marry; and
- Both parties must have met each other in person within two years before the petition is filed.
The application process involves the U.S. citizen petitioner filing a nonimmigrant visa petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the K-1 fiancé. Current USCIS processing time for petition for an alien fiancé is approximately six months. After USCIS approves the petition, the K-1 fiancé can apply for the K-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate Office or Embassy abroad. Once the K-1 fiancé obtains the visa, he/she is admitted to the United States for a 90-day period. This period cannot be extended – the fiancé must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner during that period or depart the United States. Failure to abide by the terms of the K-1 visa would constitute a violation of status.
Once the marriage is finalized, the K-1 fiancé may file an adjustment of status application in order to obtain his/her green card. However, please note that the K-1 fiancé’s adjustment of status application is only permissible if it is based upon the marriage contracted within the 90 days allowed under the K-1 visa.
The greatest advantage of the K-1 visa relates to separate children of the principal K-1 fiancé. Unmarried children under 21 may accompany the principal K-1 fiancé to the United States as derivative beneficiaries in K-2 status. The child may also follow-to-join the K parent after the parent has already traveled to the United States, and the child may seek admission into the United States only after the K parent has first been admitted.
The seasoned attorneys at SKT can help you select the best visa option and guide you through the K-1.