They say that love has no boundaries, but when you are a U.S. citizen in love with a foreign national, there are some immigration formalities that you’ll need to observe before your fiancé(e) or spouse can join you or remain with you in the United States.
The K-1 Visa
The K-1 is a nonimmigrant visa that was specially created to facilitate the entry of foreign-born fiancé(e)s into the United States. Its sole purpose is to allow your loved one to come to the United States for the specific purpose of marrying you.
To qualify for a K-1 visa, the following must be true:
- You must be an American citizen.
- You and your fiancé(e) must have met personally within the two years prior to filing the petition. This requirement may be waived if such a meeting would violate your fiancé(e)’s cultural or social practice or cause you extreme hardship.
- You must both be free to marry at the time the petition was filed. If either of you were married before, the relationship must have been ended in divorce, been annulled, or ended due to the death of the other spouse.
The process begins when you file a Form I-129F, Petition For Alien Fiancé(e) with your closest USCIS field office. Once it is approved, the petition will be sent to the National Visa Center, which will process it, assign a case number, and send it to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy closest to where your loved one lives.
This office will contact them, provide them with instructions regarding the required medical examination, and then interview them for the issuance of a K-1 visa. If the consular officer concludes that the relationship is genuine and grants the visa, it is valid for up to six months for a one-time entry into the U.S.
Once your loved one arrives, they have 90 days to marry you. If the marriage does not happen within that time period, they must leave the country.
After the marriage takes place, your new spouse may apply for a green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. USCIS will grant them conditional permanent residence status and issue a two-year green card. Your spouse can remove the conditional aspect of their residence by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence within 90 days before the temporary green card expires.
If your fiancé(e) has minor children (under the age of 21), they may be eligible for the K-2 visa, which is the derivative of the K-1, and accompany their parent to the U.S. or join them within one year after the visa is issued. After the marriage and approval of Form I-485, the children will receive green cards along with their parent.
If you married your fiancé(e) overseas, you would apply for the K-3 visa for foreign-born spouses. It starts with you filing the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once the petition is approved, the process will largely be the same as applying for the K-1, with the consular interview and medical examination. The K-3 allows them to come to the U.S. to live with you while Form I-130 is being processed. They can file for permanent residency any time after arrival.
This visa is for your minor stepchildren. Like the K-2, it permits them to accompany their parent to the U.S. and qualify for permanent residency.
At the Law Office of Judith Delus, P.A., we are glad to assist couples in beginning a new and exciting life together in the U.S. If you live in or around Atlanta and would like your fiancé(e) or spouse to join you, we will provide you with guidance and advice during the immigration process. For more information, please call 678.601.5580 or contact us today.