Fiance/Fiancee Visas (K1 Visas)


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people obtain Fiance/Fiancee Visas.
FIANCE/FIANCEE VISAS
(K1 VISAS)

When a United States citizen decides to marry a non-citizen who is not on U.S. soil, one of the first things that should be considered is an immigration strategy.  Timing is always an issue.  Delays in processing can keep a loved ones apart for months or even years in some cases.  Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon can help you decide whether a fiance/fiancee visa is right for you, or whether you should get married and then apply for an immigrant visa. Everybody's situation is unique.  What may be right for someone else may not be right for you.  Give us a call to discuss the options and best strategies. 

I'm a U.S. Citizen engaged to a foreign national. Should we get a fiance/fiancee visa or get married first?

The first thing to consider is whether to get married in the United States or outside the United States.  If you get married outside the United States, the U.S. citizen can petition to bring the non-citizen spouse over on an immigrant visa.  This cuts out the step of the non-citizen spouse having to apply for a greencard once in the U.S.  So, typically, if the U.S. citizen is able to travel to the country where the fiance/fiancee is residing and get married there, it will be cheaper and faster to get a greencard.  However, this is not always the case.  As of the time of this writing, the processing time for the I-130 (filed by the U.S. Citizen for their foreign national spouse) and the I-129F (filed by the U.S. citizen for the foreign national fiance/fiancee) is about the same.  So, it has taken about the same amount of time to get a fiance/fiancee into the U.S. as a spouse.  But, if the processing time for the I-130 increases and the processing time for the I-129F decreases or stays the same, the strategy would change.  This is why it is always a good idea to have a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your case and the best strategy as of the time you are asking.  Immigration changes constantly. 

Assuming the processing time is the same for the I-130 and I-129F, by getting married before the foreign national loved one enters the U.S., you are cutting out the extra step of having to apply for a greencard.  This will cut costs and timing of obtaining a greencard in addition to the amount of time until the foreign national becomes eligible to naturalize. 

Some people have the option of getting married first and then applying for an immigrant visa, but if not, the fiance/fiancee visa is also a good option.

What exactly is a fiance/fiancee visa?

A Fiance/Fiancee visa, also known as a K1 visa, is designed to allow a non-citizen to enter the United States for the sole purpose to get married to a U.S. citizen within 90 days.  After the marriage, the non-citizen can apply for a green card (lawful permanent resident status).  

K-1 Fiance/Fiancee Visa
Requirements:
  • fiance/fiancee of a U.S. citizen
  • seeks to enter solely to get married to the Petitioner (U.S. citizen) within 90 days of admission
  • must conclude the valid marriage with the petitioning U.S. citizen
    • must establish that it is a bona fide marriage
    • must marry the petitioning U.S. citizen

How do my fiance/fiancee and I apply for a K1 visa?

The process starts by the U.S. citizen filing a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e).  You must submit the form, filing fee and supporting evidence to USCIS.  The U.S. citizen must prove that he or she intends to marry within 90 days of the foreign national spouse's admission to the U.S., that the two have met in person within the last two (2) years (or that meeting in-person would violate long and strict customs), 

Once the marriage is concluded and the non-citizen files for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card), they will be issued a conditional lawful permanent resident card.  Both the U.S. citizen spouse and non-citizen spouse will have to file a petition to remove the conditions within 2 years.  Examples of evidence might include wedding announcements, receipts for wedding venues, bands, photographers, etc., letters from family, friends, and the religious leader who will conduct the wedding, photos of the two together within the last two years, credit card receipts for U.S. citizen showing use in the foreign national's country, and more. 

Once you submit the I-129F, filing fee and supporting documentation (listed in the I-129F instructions), you have to wait until the case is processed and you receive an approval notice.  How long it takes to receive approval changes and is different depending on what service center your case has been assigned to.  You can see the current processing time here.  

After you receipt the approval notice, the foreign national can apply for the K1 visa at the U.S. Embassy in their country.  The I-129F approval will provide instructions on how to proceed.  The foreign national finace(e) will submit an application, documentation, and have an interview with a consular officer.  If approved, the foreign national will be able to enter the United States for the sole purpose to get married to the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of admission. 


What happens after my fiance(e) and I get married?  What is the immigration status?

After the marriage in the U.S., the foreign national will have to file an I-485, Application to adjust status, in order to obtain a greencard.  He or she can also file an I-765, to obtain an employment authorization card (EAD, work permit), along with the I-485, which should come well in advance of the greencard.  The greencard will be a conditional one because the marriage will have ocurred within two (2) years of filing for the greencard.  So, before the expiration of the two year greencard, the U.S. citizen spouse and the foreign national spouse will have to file a joint petition to remove the conditions, where USCIS will look to make sure the marriage wasn't fraudulent.  This usually requires an interview at a USCIS office.  

Three (3) years after obtaining the intial greencard, if the foreign national LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) spouse is still married to and living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, he or she can apply to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen.  If the LPR spouse is not still married to or living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, he or she can apply to naturalize in five (5) years. 

What happens if the foreign national doesn't marry the U.S. citizen in 90 days?

Because the fiance(e) visa is designed for the sole purpose to allow foreign nationals to enter to get married to a U.S. citizen, if the foreign national does not marry that particular U.S. citizen, the foreign national will not be eligible to adjust status inside the U.S. and obtain a greencard.  So, if things don't work out in the first 90 days and the foreign national meets another U.S. citizen and gets married, he or she would not be able to get a greencard inside the U.S. based on that marriage to a U.S. citizen who did not file the I-129F.  Of course, there may be other options, so if you entered on a fiance(e) visa and did not end up getting married to the U.S. citizen who filed the I-129F petition, call us to discuss possible options. 


What if the foreign national fiance(e) has children?  Can the U.S. citizen spouse bring them over too?

The child of a K-1 visa holder can obtain a K-2 visa and accompany or follow to join the non-citizen spouse.  There are time limitations and age limitations, so you should consult with an immigration lawyer about your specific case. 


What if I, the U.S. citizen fiance(e) have a criminal record?  Will that affect me applying for a fiance(e) visa?

Typically, a U.S. Citizens prior criminal record will have no effect on the immigration process.  There is an exception however, under the Adam Walsh Act.  A U.S. citizen who has been convicted of a "specified offense against a minor"  cannot have a petition for non-citizen fiance/fiancee approved unless he or she proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she poses no risk to the alien beneficiary.  These cases are often denied and there is no or limited appellate rights, so call us if you or your fiance/fiancee has a conviction for any offense against a minor.  

The foreign national's criminal record will be at issue, however, on whether he or she is "admissible" to the United States and therefore eligible for a finace(e) visa. 


If you or someone you know is interesting in setting up a consultation to determine eligibility and/or strategy for a K1 visa, please call us:

Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon

 904-642-3332(Jacksonville)

or

407-228-2019 (Orlando). 
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