Genesis Law Firm’s immigration practice includes the filing of fiance(e) petitions for U.S. citizens with foreign fiance(e)s. We have K-1 fiance(e) visa lawyers in Seattle and Everett, WA.
The fiance(e) visa allows foreign fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens to travel to the U.S. to get married in the U.S. There are several steps involved in successfully petitioning for a foreign fiance(e), which are briefly discussed below.
Step One: File with DHS
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (specifically it’s sub-agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — USCIS), handles the initial fiance(e) petition. Once this initial petition is approved, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center, then to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the foreign fiance(e)’s home jurisdiction.
FIANCE(E) VISA REQUIREMENTS
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has four basic requirements for a fiance(e) petition. These requirements are as follows:
The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. This requirement can be shown by submitting a photocopy of the petitioner’s valid and unexpired U.S. passport, or by the petitioner’s birth certificate indicating his or her birth in the United States.
Intention to Marry
USCIS must be satisfied that you and your foreign fiance(e) do actually intend to marry each other in the United States within 90 days of his/her arrival to the United States on the K-1 visa. To this end, it is a good idea to include well-drafted declarations from both the petitioner and the beneficiary regarding the intention to marry within the required time period.
Eligible to Marry
Both you and your foreign fiance(e) must be eligible to marry each other. That is, you cannot already be married. If you or your foreign fiance(e) were previously married, the appropriate document must be submitted to show that the divorce was legally terminated (e.g., final divorce decree, death certificate).
You and your foreign fiance(e) must be able to prove that you met each other in person within the last two years (from the date of filing the petition). There are two exceptions to this requirement. The two exceptions are: (1) if the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiance(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; and (2) if you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.
Aside from these four basic requirements, there are other more complex requirements that must be considered. Among these are when the U.S. citizen petitioner has certain criminal history. Criminal history, along with several other factors, may preclude the petition from being approved because of noncompliance with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA). Consult with one of Genesis Law Firm’s Seattle immigration lawyers to ensure compliance with IMBRA.
Step Two: Consular Processing
At the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the foreign fiance(e) will have to undergo an interview in order to establish legal eligibility to the satisfaction of the U.S. Department of State.
REQUIREMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Aside from USCIS, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has its own requirements for issuing K-1 visas for foreign fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens. These requirements are as follows:
- Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application;
- A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date of at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the U.S.;
- Divorce or death certificates from any previous spouses for both the visa applicant and the U.S. citizen petitioner;
- Police certificates from the applicant’s present country of residence and all countries where the applicant has resided for at least six months since turning age 16;
- Medical examination performed by a DOS-designated panel physician;
- Evidence of financial support from the U.S. citizen petitioner (Form I-134 and supporting documents may be requested by the Consular Officer);
- Two 2×2″ passport-style photographs;
- Evidence of continued relationship between the visa applicant and the U.S. citizen petitioner;
- Payment of visa fees.
Note that each U.S. Embassy / Consulate may have its own specific set of instructions. It is important to be aware of the specific instructions that pertain to your foreign fiance(e)’s visa application.
Certain activities may make your foreign fiance(e) ineligible for a K-1 visa. Such activities include but are not limited to: (1) Health-related grounds; (2) criminal and related grounds; (3) security and related grounds: and (4) public charge. If your fiance(e) is found ineligible at the K-1 visa interview, s/he may be eligible for a waiver of the ground(s) of inadmissibility.
Step Three: Travel to the United States
Once your fiance(e) has passed the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, has the K-1 visa in his/her passport, then s/he can make arrangements for travel to the United States.
Step Four: Get Married
A crucial requirement of this whole process is that you and your fiance(e) get married within 90 days of his/her arrival in the United States. If this marriage does not occur, your fiance(e) will be out of status and must depart the U.S. immediately to avoid potentially being put into removal proceedings. If your fiance(e) is in removal proceedings, call an immigration lawyer immediately.
Step Five: Apply for a Green Card
After you are married, you can petition for your new spouse as an “immediate relative” and your spouse can apply for a green card (lawful permanent residency to the United States). Once you have arrived at this step you have stepped outside the realm of the fiance(e) visa petition. The green card process requires special attention to detail with regards to legal eligibility. Beyond black-and-white legal requirements, there are discretionary factors involved in petitioning for your spouse as an immediate relative.
Benefits of the Fiance(e) Visa
The primary benefit of the fiance(e) visa is that it allows your foreign fiance(e) to come to the U.S. to marry you. This may seem obvious, but it is not as it seems. Sometimes foreign fiance(e)s attempt to travel to the U.S. on a B-2 visitor visa in order to get married to a U.S. citizen. If the U.S. Department of State finds out about this, the B-2 visa will usually be denied. Further, if the B-2 visa is issued and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection finds out, the foreign fiance(e) could be denied entry to the U.S. and in some instances be issued with a “ground of inadmissibility” for fraud and misrepresentation regarding his/her “nonimmigrant intent”. Therefore, it is very important to decide which visa to apply for and why; the decision often results from legal and/or strategic concerns.
WHICH FAMILY-BASED OPTION IS RIGHT FOR ME?
There are several different types of family-based immigration options. Each of them have benefits and drawbacks. Your decision will largely depend on your own personal circumstances. The Seattle immigration lawyers at Genesis Law Firm have handled many family-based cases. We can give sound legal advice for any family-based immigration situation that may arise.
K-1 Fiance(e) Visa
In a nutshell: U.S. citizen must visit foreign fiance(e) at least once within two years of filing with USCIS. When foreign fiance(e) arrives in U.S., must marry U.S. citizen petitioner in the United States within 90 days of arrival on the K-1 visa.
- Enables loved ones to be together sooner than marriage-based visa;
- Less arduous consular processing;
- More expensive overall, since added set of government fees + attorney fees;
- Foreign fiance(e) is not a green card holder upon arrival in the U.S. — S/he must apply for Adjustment of Status after marrying U.S. citizen petitioner.
In a nutshell: U.S. citizen and foreign spouse married less than two years. “CR” means “conditional resident.” Must file for removal of conditions within 90 days of the two-year anniversary of the foreign spouse’s conditional green card issuance.
- Foreign spouse has a green card upon arriving in the U.S. after visa is issued;
- Less expensive than K-1;
- Longer processing time than K-1 (can take up to a year in some cases);
In a nutshell: Same as CR-1, except the marriage is over two years old. “IR” stands for “immediate relative.” Pros and cons the same as for CR-1.
K-3 Spouse Visa
In a nutshell: Foreign spouse of U.S. citizen receives K-3 “nonimmigrant” visa, travels to the U.S., then adjusts status to that of lawful permanent resident.
- The K-3 visa is no longer advisable. For reasons having to do with National Visa Center (NVC) policy on processing Forms I-129F and I-130, it no longer makes sense to apply for a K-3 visa. In the early 2000s, IR-1/CR-1 petitions took much longer to process through USCIS. At that time, the K-3 was a mechanism to bring a foreign spouse to the U.S. quicker (for purposes of family unity). Now, however, USCIS processes IR-1/CR-1 petitions much faster, so the K-3 is obsolete.
Accurately following the foregoing steps is critical in ensuring that your foreign fiance(e) has the best chance of receiving a K-1 visa to marry you in the United States. Each step requires special consideration, so it is wise to enlist an experienced immigration lawyer to handle your case. An immigration lawyer will be able to asses the likelihood of success in your case and will be able to point out potential problems or reasons why you or foreign fiance(e) would not be eligible to petition or apply for this visa. Genesis Law Firm’s Seattle K-1 fiance(e) visa lawyers routinely handles fiance(e) visa petitions and consular processing of K-1 visas. Call our immigration law section at (425) 212-1789, ext. 5 to schedule a consultation.
Disclaimer: This web page is intended to give general information only. It should not be relied on as legal advice. Legal advice is only given by contacting one of our attorneys and only after entering into an agreement for legal services.
Occasionally the immigration attorneys at Genesis Law Firm write articles on a given subject in order to help inform the general public. The following are such articles. Enjoy.
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