The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, is a legal tool provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows fiancés who are non-U.S. citizens to enter the United States with their partner. This allows for a nonimmigrant fiancé to come to the U.S. to legally marry a U.S. citizen. K-1 visas also offer many benefits to their holders.
K-1 Visa Eligibility
The initial requirement for obtaining a K-1 visa is to provide proof that the couple has met each other in person for a minimum of two years. This rule applies to every applicant except those whose religion or traditional heritage prohibits the meeting of spouses prior to marriage. The next requirement specifies that the couple that intends to marry must do so within 90 days of the K-1 visa holder entering the United States. Other requirements include that one of the members of the couple is a U.S. citizen. The couple must also prove that they are legally able to marry, including being of legal age and being able to prove that their previous marriages ended in either a legal divorce, annulment, or death of a spouse.
Qualifications For A U.S. Citizenship
In order for a partner to legally bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. to marry, they must qualify as a U.S. citizen. The first form of qualification is that the partner was born in the United States, or one of its territories (including military bases). The second form of qualification for U.S. citizenship is if they were born in a foreign country to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Another qualification for U.S. citizenship is through the changing of the citizenship status of their parents when they were a minor. When the parents of a child become legal U.S. citizens, they automatically become U.S. citizens themselves. Naturalization also qualifies an individual for U.S. citizenship, and thus the right to bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. with the intention of marriage.
Legal permanents U.S. residents cannot qualify for the K-1 visa program. Since they themselves are not U.S. citizens, they cannot bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. to marry since neither parties are a citizen of the U.S. However, permanent residents are permitted to marry their foreign fiancé outside the United States and then apply for a Green Card to bring them and their spouse back to the U.S.
K-1 Visa Requirements
The sole purpose of the K-1 visa is for the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to legally enter the U.S. and marry them. If the newlywed couple intends to permanently reside in the United States, then the K-1 visa is the most preferable type of visa to pursue. It also acts as a gateway for the foreign fiancé to convert to immigrant status after the marriage takes place. There are some extra requirements for specific cases, however, as outlined below.
Requirements For Same-Sex Couples
The United States Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples are allowed to marry in any U.S. state. This means that same-sex couples must meet the same requirements as any couple is required to. However, not every state may be administratively equipped to facilitate same-sex marriages. For this reason, the U.S. citizen in the couple must live where same-sex marriage is practiced as well as prove that the marriage will occur in a state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.
Requirements When One Partner Was Previously Married
If the U.S. citizen was previously married, certified local court documents such as divorce decrees or death certificates will provide the USCIS with enough evidence that they have a legal right to remarry. If the foreign fiancé was previously married, the USCIS will require legal proof from the legal jurisdiction that the fiancé currently resides in. The country where the fiancé is from must also recognize the divorce or annulment as a legal transaction. If the country does not, then the U.S. cannot recognize the divorce or annulment.
Requirements When One Partner is Underage
Legal age in every U.S. state is considered 18, and most states require both partners in a marriage to be of legal age. Some states, however, allow persons under the age of 18 to marry with legal consent from both of their parents. If a U.S. citizen wants to bring an underage fiancé to the U.S., they must first provide information on which state they intend to legally marry in the K-1 visa application. Secondly, they must provide proof of consent from the underage fiancé’s parents in a legal document.
Requirements For Blood Relatives
U.S. states each have different laws pertaining to marriages between blood relatives and to what degree of relation is permitted. Every state in the United States prohibits marriages between parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, aunts or uncles and nieces or nephews, and great grandparents and grandchildren. Few states in the U.S. allow first cousins to marry, but marriages between cousins are illegal in most states. If a U.S. citizen wishes to marry a first cousin from another country, they must provide information about where they can legally marry and prove that they intend to marry in that state on their K-1 visa application.
Contact Our Northern VA Immigration Attorneys Today
If you and your foreign fiancé intend to apply for the K-1 visa program, feel free to reach out to the immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi. Our immigration attorneys are happy to provide a consultation so that you can better understand your options for the K-1 visa before ultimately making a decision. Call Johnson & Masumi right away at (703) 688-8279 to learn more about the K-1 visa as well as how to file your application. Additionally, you can schedule a consultation online with one of our Northern Virginia immigration attorneys today.