What Is A K-1 Visa?
If you are a U.S. citizen engaged to someone outside the United States and wish to bring them to the United States to get married, you may sponsor your fiancé to obtain what is called a K-1 non-immigrant visa. This is one of the most popular and requested visas and can lead to lawful permanent residency in the United States. This visa lasts for 90 days, and it is expected that you and your fiancé marry within that time frame. After marriage, the K-1 visa holder may then apply for an adjustment of status for permanent residency.
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Who is eligible for A K-1 Visa?
A U.S. citizen who wishes to marry a foreign national in the United States may sponsor their fiancé to obtain a K-1 non immigrant visa. There are several eligibility requirements for both the sponsor (U.S. citizen) and the applicant (fiancé):
The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen.
You and your fiancé must both be free to legally marry one another in the United States. Any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, annulment, or death.
You must have met your fiancé in person at least once in the two years before you file the petition. There are two exceptions to this rule:
If meeting in person would violate any strict customs, such as religious or societal norms of your fiancé’s society and/or culture, or
It would cause the petitioner extreme hardship to meet in person. If either of these exceptions apply to you, you may request a waiver of this requirement.
You must intend to marry each other within 90 days of the fiancé arriving in the United States on a K-1 non immigrant visa. Failure to do, or failure of your fiancé to leave the United States within this time frame may result in legal ramifications.
The children of your fiancé can also apply for what is called a K-2 non-immigrant visa. The children must be under the age of 21 and unmarried. They may travel to the United States with the fiancé or later, after the fiancé has already arrived in the U.S.
How to apply for a k-1 visa
The process of obtaining a K-1 visa involves several agencies, including the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The first step is for you, the sponsor, to fill out a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé and submit all required documents to USCIS. If approved, USCIS sends the I-129F form to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC) where they will send this form to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé lives.
You and your fiancé will be notified about the details of the K-1 non-immigrant visa interview. Your fiancé must attend the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate they have been assigned to. They must bring all forms, documents, and fees that are required to this interview, as well as evidence that they are not likely to become a public charge in the United States. The U.S. citizen sponsor may need to submit a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support that will serve as evidence that the fiancé will be financially supported while in the U.S.
The DOS consular officer will then determine whether the relationship is bona fide. Submitting evidence of a bona fide relationship is critical for approval of the K-1 visa. If the DOS determines that the relationship is bona fide, they will grant your fiancé the visa which will last up to 6 months for a single entry into the United States. If they determine that the relationship is not bona fide, they will return the Form I-129F to USCIS.
Once your fiancé travels to the United States, a CBP officer at the port-of-entry will make the final determination for admission into the United States. The K-1 visa itself does not guarantee admission. The final approval is up to the CBP officer.
After your fiancé is admitted, you have 90 days to marry each other. If you do not marry during this time, your fiancé must leave the United States. Failure to either marry within the 90 days, or failure for your fiancé to leave the United States during this time will result in a violation of U.S. immigration law. This may lead to deportation and can affect any future U.S. immigration petitions.
After receiving a K-1 non-immigrant visa and being admitted into the United States, your fiancé may apply for work authorization by completing the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. If granted, this work authorization will be valid for the 90 days that the fiancé is permitted to stay in the U.S.
What happes after I get Married?
After you have married, your spouse may be eligible for an adjustment of status to obtain a Permanent Resident Card, also known as a Green Card. To do this, you must file a Form I-485, application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. You must submit all documentation and follow all required steps in order to complete this process. If you are married for less than 2 years when your Form I-485 is approved, you may be granted a conditional Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) which will last for 2 years. There are steps you can take to remove these conditions, so it is important to talk to an immigration lawyer to explore your options.
If you are interested in finding out more about the K-1 non-immigrant visa, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney who can answer your questions and guide you through the process. Along with helping guide you through the K-1 non-immigrant visa process, an immigration attorney can also help you and your fiancé in adjusting their status to permanent resident after you are married, and eventually help them in obtaining U.S. citizenship. This process can be lengthy and complex, so it is important to speak with an immigration attorney that is experienced and knowledgeable in this area of immigration law. Please contact the professionals at Shoreline Immigration to help you get started.
Adjustment of Status denial
USCIS can deny AOS applications for a variety of reasons. Denials can occur if an individual did not provide required evidence, failed to respond to requests for additional information, and/or if forms were unsigned or incorrectly filled out. In some limited instances, a new Green Card application can be submitted, but this is dependent on the reason for the denial. An experienced immigration attorney should be consulted in such cases. Applications can also be denied if during an in-person interview it was determined that an individual was not, in fact, eligible for a Green Card. If USCIS denies an AOS application, the applicant will no longer have a valid, lawful status in the US. Any employment authorization secured via the AOS process will be invalidated.