U.S. Citizens may sponsor fiancé living abroad and then apply for permanent residence after marriage within 90 days. While the fiancé visa is technically a temporary visa, it is treated similarly to a green card.
In this process it is important to determine the eligibility of the applicant as well as to demonstrate the good faith of the relationship, that is, that the marriage is not for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
Yes, just like the TV Show! You can have your fiancé(e) come to the US, marry within 90 days and then apply for their green card!
The K-1 visa, also known as the “Fiancé(e) visa,” allows a US citizen to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the United States, get married within 90 days, and apply for a green card. As a team of experienced immigration attorneys, we can guide you through the process and provide the necessary legal assistance.
To be eligible, you must be a US citizen and have physically met your fiancé(e) within the past two years. The couple must marry within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry into the US, and both individuals must be legally free to marry, meaning any previous marriages have been officially terminated.
The process begins with the US citizen filing the I-129F petition, which, once approved, will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The NVC will then assemble the required documents, including the affidavit of support (I-134) from the US citizen, the non-immigrant DS-160 visa application from the foreign national, and additional supporting documents like proof of the relationship, medical examination results, and a criminal background check.
While evidence of the relationship should be submitted initially, it is advisable to update these documents and bring them to the interview, including items such as wedding plans, recent photos, and proof of ongoing communication.
Upon successfully completing the interview, there is a limited timeframe for the foreign national to enter the US. Failure to do so within the specified deadline will result in the termination of the visa. It is important to note that processing times for visas and other related documents may be affected by the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to unpredictable delays both in the US and at consulates and embassies worldwide.
If your fiancé(e) has children, unmarried children under the age of 21 can be included in the application. However, it is crucial to remember that each family member must have their own adjustment of status filing and separate government filing fees when applying for a green card. Unlike other circumstances, where the marriage must occur before the child turns 18 to petition for them, if the child is older than 18 and arrives with the fiancé(e) parent, they can still be eligible for the green card as long as they remain unmarried.
In terms of financial support, the petitioner must demonstrate their ability to financially support the person entering the United States through the affidavit of support. This can be accomplished by providing recent tax documents, such as tax return transcripts, along with corresponding W-2 or 1099 forms, current income proof such as pay stubs, bank statements showing available funds, or ownership documents for real estate or vehicles. It is advisable to request tax return transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at www.irs.gov, as they are preferred over detailed tax return forms.
Regarding employment, a fiancé(e) may apply for permission to work upon arrival. However, due to processing delays, most individuals choose to apply for the entire adjustment of status package after the wedding. This comprehensive package includes the green card application, permission to travel, and permission to work. It is important to note that Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) have experienced slower processing times recently.
If the petitioner and the fiancé(e) fail to marry within the 90-day period, the fiancé(e) must leave the US. Overstaying this timeframe will result in the accumulation of unlawful presence, potentially leading to removal (deportation) proceedings and jeopardizing future immigration benefits. Additionally, it is important to remember that if the marriage does not occur, the fiancé(e) cannot apply for a green card with a different spouse in the future and must leave the US.
Frequently Asked Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1 Visa) Questions
Is it faster to bring over my fiancé(e) or my spouse?
Unfortunately, the effects of Covid have made processing times both in the US and at consulates and embassies around the world much slower and harder to predict. Traditionally, filing for the fiancé(e) is a faster route than marrying first and filing for a spouse.
Are the processes similar in filing for a fiancé(e) and a spouse?
Yes, but in the case of a fiancé(e) the initial visa issued is for a temporary stay, where in the case of a spouse, they will be issued an “immigrant visa” which will provide permanent residence in the US after their entry. For a fiancé(e) they have the additional step of marriage and then application for adjustment of status (green card). In both case there must be a bona fide relationship, and proof of financial support by the petitioner; finally a medical exam and criminal background check is always required.
What if my fiancé(e) has children?
You may include unmarried children under 21 years of age on the application. However, keep in mind that once the family arrives and you continue to file for a green card, each family member must have their own adjustment of status filings and each will have separate government filing fees. This is quite unique because in most other circumstances, in order to petition for a “child” the marriage must have occurred before the child turns 18 years old. This is not the case if the “child” is older than 18 and arrives with the fiancé(e) parent. However, they MUST remain unmarried to continue to be eligible for the green card.
What kind of proof do I need to show I can financially support my fiancé(e)?
The affidavit of support assures the government that the petitioner will be able to financially support the person entering the United States. This is generally proven by showing the most recent taxes with corresponding W-2 or 1099’s, current income with pay stubs, bank statements showing cash, or titles to real estate or automobiles. It’s best to include tax return transcripts rather than long and detailed tax return forms. Transcripts can be obtained at www.irs.gov. (Account or Wage transcripts are not sufficient, you must request Return transcripts)
Can my fiancé(e) work when they arrive?
A fiancé(e) may apply for permission to work upon their arrival. However, processing times for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) have slowed. Since the K-1 visa is only permission to enter the US, marry the petitioner within 90 days, most people do not file a separate EAD. The typical process is to apply for the entire adjustment of status package soon after the wedding. This includes the green card application, permission to travel, and permission to work.
What happens if we don’t get married?
If the petitioner and the fiancé(e) don’t marry within the 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s entry to the U.S., the fiancé(e) must leave. They may not remain past the 90 days, or they will begin to accrue “unlawful presence.” They can be placed into removal (deportation) proceedings and jeopardize their eligibility for future immigration benefits. Please keep in mind that a person who was granted a K-1 visa may not apply for a green card with a different spouse in the future. If the marriage does not occur, the fiancé(e) must leave the U.S. in most cases.
Our immigration lawyers are very experienced in the K-1 visa process and have a near 100% approval rate for prior cases filed. Contact our office at (404) 890-0372 to learn more about how we can assist.