28 Feb

Welcome to Tavangar Law Group's blog, where we provide expert guidance and support for those navigating the complex process of obtaining visas and green cards in the United States. One of the most popular visa options for individuals looking to bring their fiancé(e) to the US is the K-1 visa. Also known as the fiancé(e) visa, this nonimmigrant visa allows a US citizen to bring their foreign national fiancé(e) to the United States for the purpose of getting married and starting a life together. However, the K-1 visa process can be complicated and time-consuming, with strict requirements that must be met. In this article, we will provide an overview of the K-1 visa, including eligibility requirements, application process, and important considerations to keep in mind.

Advantages of K-1 Visa:

  1. Reunite with your Fiancé(e): The K-1 visa allows you to reunite with your fiancé(e) in the United States and start your life together.
  2. Path to Marriage and Green Card: Once your fiancé(e) is in the US on a K-1 visa, you can get married and begin the process of applying for a green card once the spouse is in the united states.
  3. There are no yearly limits on how many of such visas USCIS issues, so there is no limitation on this program in that sense.
  4. Work Authorization: After arriving in the US on a K-1 visa, your fiancé(e) can apply for a work permit and begin working legally.
  5. Eligibility to get visa (and green card) for fiancé’ children under 21.

Disadvantages of K-1 Visa: 

  1. Lengthy Processing Time: The K-1 visa process can take from 5-7 months (even to a year or more in some circumstances), which can be frustrating for couples who want to be together as soon as possible. If you are already married, it is best to apply for green card at spouse's home country. It does not make sense to apply for K-1 visa in that case. 
  2. Strict Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible for a K-1 visa, you must meet strict requirements, including being a US citizen (and not a permanent resident or green card holder) and having met your fiancé(e) in person within the past two years (there are exception that allows you to meet this requirement explained further in the article).
  3. Limited Options: Once your fiancé(e) is in the US on a K-1 visa, the only viable option is to marry. You could potentially obtain a work permit for this period but obtaining such permit is not really rational (explained later).
  4. Risk of Denial: There is always a risk that your K-1 visa application could be denied, which can be a devastating outcome for couples who have been waiting to be together.

Do you need a lawyer for applying for a K-1 visa? 

While it is not required to have a lawyer to apply for a K-1 visa, it can be very helpful to have legal guidance throughout the process, especially if the petitioning U.S. citizen fiancé has a criminal record. The K-1 visa application process can be complex and confusing, with many requirements that must be met and documentation that must be submitted. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you navigate the process, ensure that all requirements are met, and help you avoid costly mistakes that could lead to delays or even denial of your application. 

Additionally, if any issues arise during the application process, such as a request for additional evidence or an interview with an immigration officer, having a lawyer on your side can be invaluable in helping you address these issues and present your case in the best possible light. 

Ultimately, while it is possible to apply for a K-1 visa without a lawyer, hiring an experienced immigration attorney can greatly increase your chances of success and help you achieve your goal of bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States.

Is there a restriction on a petitioner fiancé who has criminal records?

Having a criminal record can potentially impact your ability to sponsor your fiancé(e) for a K-1 visa. If you, as the petitioner, have a criminal record, it may lead to additional scrutiny by USCIS, and may result in a denial of the K-1 visa petition. The impact of a criminal record on a K-1 visa petition will depend on the nature of the offense, the severity of the offense, and how recently the offense occurred. Crimes that may be particularly concerning to USCIS include crimes of moral turpitude, such as fraud, theft, or violence, and offenses related to drug use or trafficking.

 In some cases, a waiver may be available for certain types of criminal offenses. However, obtaining a waiver can be a complex and difficult process, and may require additional documentation and evidence to show that the petitioner is not a threat to public safety and that their fiancé(e) is not entering into the marriage for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. 

If you have a criminal record and are considering sponsoring your fiancé(e) for a K-1 visa, it's important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess your situation and determine your options.

Who qualifies for a K-1 visa? 

To qualify for a K-1 visa, both you and your fiancé(e) must meet the following eligibility requirements: 

  1. You must be a US citizen. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are not eligible to apply for a K-1 visa.
  2. You and your fiancé(e) must be free to marry. This means that you must both be unmarried and eligible to enter into a valid marriage in the United States.
  3. You and your fiancé(e) must have met in person at least once within the past two years. This requirement may be waived in certain limited circumstances, such as if meeting in person would violate long-established customs or if it would cause extreme hardship to the US citizen sponsor.
  4. You and your fiancé(e) must have a bona fide relationship. This means that you must be entering into the marriage in good faith and not for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
  5. You and your fiancé(e) must meet the financial requirements. You must show that you have sufficient income or assets to support your fiancé(e) without the need for government assistance.
  6. Your fiancé(e) must pass a medical examination and undergo a background check.

It is important to note that meeting these eligibility requirements is just the first step in the K-1 visa application process. You will also need to provide extensive documentation and undergo an interview with a US consular officer before your fiancé(e) can be granted a K-1 visa.

Can a fiancé who is seeking K-1 visa bring their children to the United States with them? 

Yes, the children of a K-1 visa applicant may also be eligible to come to the US on a K-2 visa. To be eligible for a K-2 visa, the children must be unmarried and under the age of 21. The K-2 visa application process is similar to the K-1 visa process, and the children will need to undergo a medical examination and background check. If the K-1 visa holder marries their US citizen sponsor and applies for a green card, their children may also be eligible to apply for green cards as the children of a US citizen.

Would a K-1 visa automatically becomes a Green Card after the couple marry the U.S.?

No, the K-1 visa does not automatically become a green card after marriage in the US. After marriage, the K-1 visa holder must apply for a green card through the adjustment of status process to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. 

The adjustment of status process requires the filing of several forms, including Form I-485, along with supporting documentation and fees. The process also includes an interview with a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer, where the applicant will be asked about their relationship and other aspects of their application. 

It's important to note that the adjustment of status process is separate from the K-1 visa application process, and there is no guarantee that the application will be approved. Additionally, if the adjustment of status application is denied, the K-1 visa holder may be required to leave the US and apply for a green card from outside the country.

It's recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to help ensure that your adjustment of status application is properly prepared and submitted, and to help you prepare for the interview with the USCIS officer.

From K-1 Visa to US Passport: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Immigration Process

The process of obtaining a K-1 visa and a US passport can be broken down into the following steps: 

  1. File the K-1 visa petition: The first step in obtaining a K-1 visa is to file a petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of your fiancé(e). This requires submitting Form I-129F, along with supporting documentation, evidence of your relationship, and payment of the filing fee.
  2. Wait for USCIS processing: Once the K-1 visa petition is filed, USCIS will review the application and supporting documentation and may request additional information or evidence. The processing time for the petition can vary, but generally takes several months.
  3. Consular processing: If the K-1 visa petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the US consulate in your fiancé(e)'s home country. Your fiancé(e) will then need to undergo a medical examination and attend an interview at the consulate to obtain the K-1 visa.
  4. Enter the US on a K-1 visa: Once the K-1 visa is approved, your fiancé(e) can travel to the US and must marry you within 90 days of arrival.
  5. File for adjustment of status: After marriage, your fiancé(e) can file for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. This requires filing Form I-485, along with supporting documentation and payment of the filing fee.
  6. Attend biometrics appointment and interview: After the adjustment of status application is filed, your fiancé(e) will need to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints and photographs. They will also need to attend an interview with USCIS to answer questions about their relationship and application.
  7. Receive the green card: If the adjustment of status application is approved, your fiancé(e) will receive a conditional green card, which is valid for two years.
  8. File for removal of conditions: Before the two-year expiration date on the green card, you and your spouse must file Form I-751 to have the conditions on the green card removed and obtain a permanent green card.
  9. Apply for a US passport: After obtaining permanent residency, your fiancé(e) can apply for a US passport through the US Department of State.

Useful Website Links 

Here are some useful website links related to the content on K-1 visa and immigration process: 

  1. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website: https://www.uscis.gov/
  2. US Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/
  3. National Visa Center (NVC) website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/national-visa-center.html
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for information on medical exams: https://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/index.html

These websites provide up-to-date information on visa and immigration requirements, forms, fees, processing times, and other important resources for applicants. It's always a good idea to check the most recent information on official government websites and consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance on your specific case.

- Published by Salar Tavangar, Esq. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content of this website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely on any information contained in this website without seeking the advice of an attorney. The law firm does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information on this website. The law firm expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this website. The information provided on this website is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.

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