K-1 Fiancée Visa: Immigration through Engagement
The K-1 visa allows qualified fiancés of American citizens to immigrate to the United States. Transnational marriages are becoming more common with the development of international trade and tourism. Not surprisingly, the popularity of the K-1 visa has also skyrocketed. This article provides an overview of what K-1 applicants need to know: the basic qualifications and benefits of this type of immigrant visa.
1. Basic qualifications for K-1 applications.
a. Citizenship. The fiancé or fiancée must apply for a visa as a United States citizen. The petitioner cannot, for example, be a US green card holder.
b. Legal relationship. The couple must prove that the marriage is the real reason the noncitizen is applying to enter the United States. Totally inadequate reasons for applying include I) social travel to America, ii) sightseeing and iii) business. The US government requires engaged parties to provide proof that they have legally fallen in love with each other and intend to marry. This evidence often includes photographs, emails, text messages, letters, phone records and affidavits.
° С. Personal attendance requirement. The parties involved must meet in person at least once within the two years immediately preceding the submission of their application. Online video, phone calls, and emails are not sufficient, although these types of interactions can serve as evidence of a legitimate relationship.
e. Free until wedding. Both parties of an engaged couple must be free to marry. Neither the fiance nor the fiancee can be married or have a pending divorce during the application process. As a practical matter, any divorce proceeding should be finalized well in advance of the K-1 filing.
e. Financial ability. Parties must be able to support themselves financially in the United States without the help of the US government. The US citizen usually provides proof of income and executes a bond against the non-citizen becoming a financial burden to the US government. If the non-citizen does not have the financial resources, other US citizens may be required to submit financial guarantees on the non-citizen’s behalf.
f. Timely marriage. The couple must be ready to marry immediately after the noncitizen enters the United States. The stateless person is allowed to stay in the US for 90 days before the marriage. If the parties do not marry within this 90-day period, the noncitizen must leave the United States. Absent marriage, the K-1 visa holder cannot apply for an extension, cannot adjust their green card status, cannot remain in the US for work, and cannot remain in the United States on another type of visa , regardless of educational status.
The K-1 visa qualifications may seem strict, but most legitimate couples with legal counsel meet them relatively easily.
2. Notable benefits of K-1 immigration.
a. The kids come too. K-1 visa holders can bring their minor children up to the age of 21 to the US. A child visa is called a K-2 and allows the parent and children to enter the United States at the same time. Children of non-citizens do not have to wait in their home country for marriage.
b. Green card and work permit. The noncitizen can apply for a conditional green card and work permit as soon as he or she marries his or her fiancé. This means that the non-citizen can stay in the United States and work while married to the US citizen. A conditional green card holder can later apply for a permanent (10-year) green card and remain in the United States indefinitely.
° С. Children can work and attend school. Children who arrive on K-2 visas can stay in the United States with their noncitizen parent, obtain work permits, and attend American public schools.
D. Citizenship. Often, the noncitizen and his or her children may eventually become U.S. citizens.
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