Falling in love with a foreign citizen which leads to a marriage is a fairy tale story. There are many U.S. citizens who find themselves in this place. When a couple decides that the best option is for the foreign citizen to immigrate to the U.S., there are two ways this can happen. The couple may obtain a marriage visa or go through the fiancé visa process.
Known as the K-1 visa, the fiancé visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. with the goal of marrying a U.S. citizen. This is a nonimmigrant visa that will allow a foreign citizen to adjust their status to permanent resident. There are several steps in the fiancé visa process that must be completed which are explained here. Before the process begins, the couple is required to have physically met in the past two years.
Filing the I 129F Petition
The U.S. citizen must first file a form I-129F, which is known as the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This form is submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You must also submit proof of the following, along with other documents and payment for nonrefundable fees :
- U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, passport, etc.)
- Personal statement from you and the foreign fiancé
- Evidence of physical meeting within the last two years
- Criminal record of any violent or domestic cases for the U.S. citizen
- Color photos of both of you (passport-like) within 30 days of submission
Once submitted to USCIS, the petition will be reviewed and a decision will be made. Processing times can vary, but generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 6-9 months to get a decision. If the petition is approved, then it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center who will transfer the file to the U.S. embassy or consulate that’s available in your fiancé's place of residence.
Obtain K1 Visa From Fiancé Home Country
The fiancé who is of foreign citizenship must then make an appointment with the U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for the K-1 visa as well. There’s also documentation that must be submitted during the interview with payment of fees that include:
- A valid passport that includes travel to the U.S. (expiration date of at least six months after date of leaving the U.S. for entering with fiancé visa)
- Birth certificate
- Death certificate or divorce decree from all prior marriages that the fiancé or the U.S. citizen had in the past
- Evidence of fiancé relationship
- Form DS-160, online nonimmigrant visa application
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support or evidence of financial support
- Medical examination; all vaccinations must be completed before foreigner’s plans to stay and apply for a green card
- If applicable in the foreign country, police certificate stating all the places the foreign citizen has lived since 16 years old
Once the application and evidence have been reviewed, there are two possible outcomes. First, the consular officer will approve the individual for a K-1 visa. The other outcome could be that the case is denied and you must reapply.
Port of Entry Inspection With CBP
Once these steps are completed and the K-1 visa has been approved, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) will make the final determination whether to accept your petition. They will issue a K-1 nonimmigrant visa which will allow your fiancé to travel to the U.S. They can seek admission by going to the port of entry as long as the visa is valid.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will make the determination from there on whether your fiancé will be allowed to enter the U.S. They can be denied entry if the officer finds evidence of ineligibility of the visa or other inadmissible information has been submitted.
90 Day Countdown
Once your fiancé has been granted a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, the countdown begins. You must be married within 90 days to file for an adjustment of status and apply for a green card. The application that you submit in order to apply for your green card is Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status.
It is important to get married earlier in the 90-day window so that you have ample time for filling out this paperwork and getting an official marriage certificate.
Waiting for I-485 Approval
While you are waiting for the USCIS to approve your request, you may receive requests for additional documentation or information. These requests are made by mail and should be responded to promptly. Additionally, be prepared for an interview that you and your spouse must attend.
Ensure you Stay on Time With the J&M team
Navigating this complicated fiancé visa process can be challenging. For many couples, this process is time-consuming and unexpected problems arise to slow it down further. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help you and your spouse get a positive outcome. Contact Johnson & Masumi to get assistance on your application.