The K-1 Visa Explained

The K-1 Visa Explained

It has been said that “True love knows no boundaries even though it crosses many.” Here’s the scenario: a U.S. citizen and a foreign national fall head over heels for each other and decide they want to tie the knot. The foreign national fiancé does not have a nonimmigrant visa allowing him or her to legally reside in the U.S. They want to get married in the U.S. What will they do about the wedding?

The K-1 visa allows a foreign national fiancé of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The fiancé is only admitted to the U.S. for 90 days and must marry the U.S. citizen within that time. (AILA Doc. No. 15120806.)

Of course, some requirements must be met in order for the foreign national to file the petition:

  • Both members of the couple must be free to marry at the time of filing (and stay free to marry after filing).
  • As a general rule, the couple must have met in person within the past two years. (There are some, but few, exceptions.)
  • The federal government will perform a security/counterterrorism check through biographic and biometric screening. You may be found to be ineligible for the visa due to issues that are uncovered during the screening process.
  • The applicant must have a medical examination.
  • The applicant will be interviewed to confirm that the relationship is genuine. Forms and documents are reviewed at the interview.

If the K-1 visa is granted and the couple is married, the immigrant needs to file an application for an adjustment of status in order to stay in the U.S. and attain permanent resident status. Permanent residence is granted on a conditional basis for two years. Once the two years have passed, the couple has to file a joint application to remove the conditions and prove that they are in a bona fide marriage.

It should be noted that K-1 status expires after 90 days and cannot be extended. If you do not marry by the end of the 90 days, your fiancé must leave the U.S. or violate U.S. immigration law – which will affect your loved one’s eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits.

If you are interested in obtaining an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys!

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