Acquiring a Fiancé Visa: A 2020 Update

fiancé visaA fiancé visa, otherwise known as a K-1, is issued to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen and allows that person to legally enter the United States. Once in the U.S., the foreign fiancé can choose to marry and thereafter apply for a green card.

Eligibility for Fiancé Visas

For your foreign fiancé to be deemed eligible for a fiancé visa, certain requirements must be met, including:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must intend to marry your fiancé within 90 days of him or her entering the United States.
  • You and your fiancé must both be legally free to marry, and all previous marriages must have already been terminated.
  • You and your fiancé must have already met each other in person at least one time within the two-year timeframe before filing your petition. A waiver may be granted if an in-person meeting would result in extreme hardship to you or would violate the strict, established customs of your fiancé’s social practice or culture.

Process for Bringing Your Fiancé to the U.S.

Bringing your fiancé to the U.S. involves a number of organizations, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). During the process, it is not unusual for background checks to be conducted on either party to check for criminal history and other information that may influence the final decision. Nonetheless, the following steps are part of the process for getting a fiancé visa:

  1. File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. After you file the Form I-129F with USCIS, it will review the form and any associated documents submitted. A request for evidence may be sent if more information or documentation is needed to make a decision. If eligibility is established, the Form I-129F is approved. The approved petition is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). If the petition is denied, you will be notified.
  2. The approved Form I-129F is forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or consulate for processing and interview. Your fiancé will then need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa application where he or she lives. After this is submitted, an interview is scheduled for your fiancé. All required forms and documents should be brought to the interview. If a DOS consular officer determines that your fiancé is eligible for a K-1 visa, one will be granted. If your relationship not found to be authentic, or if other issues that impact admissibility arise, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa will not be issued.
  3.  Enter the U.S. as a K-1 visa holder. Once the K-1 visa is approved, Yyour fiancé is able to travel to the U.S. and gain admission at a port of entry during the time the K-1 visa is valid. However, a K-1 visa does not guarantee admission into the U.S. This decision is ultimately up to the CBP officer present at the port of entry.
  4. Marriage must take place within 90 days of entry. If admitted into the U.S., you and your foreign fiancé will need to marry within 90 days. There have been issues with individuals getting married in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic and the closure of various courts. If you have this issue, it is important to contact an immigration attorney to see if there is anything that can be done to comply with the 90-day requirement.
  5. Apply for a green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The form and supporting documents will be reviewed by the USCIS once submitted. It is important to make sure that the forms are done exactly correct and that all supporting initial evidence is submitted. If you do not do this the right way, the application can be rejected and even denied, and you will lose the filing fee that you paid to the government. As such, it may be wise to have an immigration attorney assist you with this process in order to avoid any mistakes from happening. You and your spouse may be scheduled for an interview on the application. If Form I-485 is approved and you have been married for two years or less, your spouse may be granted conditional permanent resident status and issued a green card that is valid for a period of two years.

Children of Fiancés

children of your fiancé may be eligible to come to the U.S.The children of your fiancé may be eligible to come to the U.S. under certain circumstances. The children must be under 21 and unmarried. In addition, you must include the names of the children on Form I-129F. The children can travel to the U.S. with your fiancé but not before he or she arrives. In addition, your fiancé’s children may also apply for a green card by filing Form I-485 if you and your fiancé marry within 90 days of his or her admission to the U.S.

Permission to Work

Once in the U.S., your fiancé can immediately apply for evidence of work authorization by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to the USCIS. Work authorization can also be applied for at the same time as your fiancé applies for a green card.

Failure to Marry Within 90 Days

K-1 immigration status expires after 90 days of entering the U.S. If you and your fiancé fail to marry in this timeframe, then it may have consequences to your fiancé’s immigration status, inslucing the risk for deportation which could affect their future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits. Nonetheless, it is extremely important to contact an experienced immigration attorney if this happens, as there could be options in this scenario.

Coronavirus and K-1 visas

In light of the coronavirus, U.S. consulates around the world have been impacted in their issuance of K-1 visas, as well as other immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. It has also resulted in individuals not being able to get married during the 90-day period. If you have any questions about a K-1 visa in light of the coronavirus, it is important to reach out to an experienced immigration attorney directly, as the updates and guidance on visa processing changes regularly and without notice. You should be aware what the latest process and procedures are, as immigration cases are expensive and you do not want to make a costly mistake.

Marriage Fraud

fiancé visa and marriage fraudMarriage fraud is a federal crime. If an individual is found guilty of marriage fraud by going into a marriage for the purpose of entering the U.S., the offense carries a fine of up to $250,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years. In addition, if USCIS finds that you and your fiancé engaged in marriage fraud, it means that your fiancé is barred forever from receiving any approved petitions on his or her behalf.

Speak with an Immigration Attorney

Acquiring a fiancé visa can be a long and complicated process that has a number of important steps that you must follow concisely. For more information or for assistance with acquiring a fiancé visa, contact the experienced immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi PC, who have successfully handled simple and complex marriage and fiancé visas for decades.

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