FAQ Fiancee Visa and Marriage Visa
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding K-1 Visas
- What is a K-1 (Fiancée) Visa?
- What are the requirements for me to apply for a K-1 Visa?
- How do I apply for the K-1 Visa?
- Can’t I bring my fiancée to the U.S. on a tourist visa, and then decide whether to get married?
- Can’t I marry my fiancée in her country, and then bring her to the U.S. as my wife?
- How long does it take to get a K-1 visa?
- What is IMBRA, and does it affect my case?
- Do I need an attorney to obtain a K-1 visa for my fiancée?
If you are a U.S. citizen, and you wish to marry a foreigner and bring her to the U.S. to become your wife, then a K-1 visa allows you to bring your fiancée here to get married. The K-1 Visa is sometimes referred to as a “fiancée visa”. Once your fiancée arrives in the U.S. on the K-1 visa, you have 90 days to get married. Once you get married, your fiancée (now wife!) must apply to the USCIS for her Green Card before the 90 days expires [hence, you have 90 days both to get married, and for your wife to apply for her Green Card]. If you do not get married, then your fiancée must leave the U.S. upon expiration of the 90 days.
- You must be a U.S. citizen;
- You must have met your fiancée within the past 2 years;
- You and your fiancée must be legally free to marry (i.e. single or divorced);
- You and your fiancée must have a serious intention to marry within 90 days of your fiancée’s arrival in the U.S.
- You must meet minimum financial requirements;
It is essentially a two-step process, where you first file paperwork with the USCIS in the U.S., and then your fiancée fills out paperwork and goes for an interview in the U.S. consulate in her native country.
- You apply for the K-1 Visa for your fiancée in the United States, by filling out the appropriate forms (I-129F) and supporting documents, and sending them to a USCIS Service Center.
- Once the petition is approved, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center for review.
- Once approved there, the file is forwarded overseas to the U.S. consulate in your fiancée’s native country. Additional paperwork is sent to your fiancée, and once she has completed these forms and taken a medical test, she is called into the consulate for an interview.
- If she passes the interview, the K-1 Visa is issued (usually within 1 day to 1 week).
- Your fiancée is then allowed to travel to the U.S. to marry you, and once in the U.S., the two of you have 90 days to marry, or your fiancée must return to her native country.
Once you have married your fiancée (your marriage must occur within 90 days of her entry into the U.S.), then the two of you file a petition with the USCIS to get a Green Card for her [this process is referred to as an “adjustment of status”—your wife goes from a K-1 visa holder to a LPR (legal permanent resident)]. This petition for a Green Card must be filed within 90 days of the time your fiancée enters the U.S.
Some people wonder if they can just bring their fiancée to the U.S. on a tourist visa, and then decide whether and when to get married. This probably wouldn’t work for two reasons:
- First of all, it can be exceedingly difficult for single women from most countries in the world to obtain tourist visas to visit the U.S.
- If your fiancée did manage to get a tourist visa and come to the U.S. and marry you, the USCIS might regard this marriage as the result of visa fraud since she would have entered the U.S. with the pre-existing intent to marry you; also, the USCIS might closely scrutinize exactly what your fiancée told the USCIS when she entered the US, and there is the possibility that the USCIS would accuse your fiancée/wife of misrepresentation. In the worst case scenario, your wife would be denied a Green Card and subjected to deportation proceedings.
In my view, it is not wise to approach something as important as marriage with a strategy which could backfire badly.
Yes, this is possible. If you follow this alternative, you would marry your fiancée in her native country, and then apply for a CR-1 Marriage Visa for her to come to the U.S. as your wife. However, this would probably prove to be a bit more cumbersome and time-consuming than obtaining a K-1 visa, and would probably involve longer periods when you would be separated—you in the U.S., your new wife in her native country—waiting for the USCIS to process and approve her visa.
There are two reasons for this: (a) you cannot apply for the CR-1 Marriage Visa until you are already married—and the logistics of arranging for this can take several months. (b) The CR-1 process involves submitting paperwork to the National Visa Center, and this can involve delays. Hence, applying for a CR-1 visa would probably involve longer periods when you and your fiancé/wife would be separated—you in the U.S., your new wife in her native country—waiting to make wedding arrangements, or waiting for the USCIS and US State Department to process and approve her visa.
Hence, if you are planning the procedure from the beginning, it is quicker, and therefore preferable in most respects to pursue a K-1 visa for your fiancée.
This depends on a number of factors, including which USCIS Service Center handles your petition, and in which foreign country your fiancée will be interviewed. However, in general, one can realistically expect to obtain a K-1 visa in from 4 to 6 months.
The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) became law in 2006. There are two instances in which IMBRA would require that you seek a waiver before proceeding with your K-1 petition: (a) if you have filed 2 or more K-1 visa petitions at any time in the past, or previously had a K-1 visa petition approved within 2 years prior to the filing of your present petition; or (b) if you have been convicted of certain violent crimes. If either of these situations pertain, it is possible to seek a waiver, and continue with a new petition. If IMBRA seems to affect your case, please contact us to discuss the situation and the possibility of seeking a waiver.
It is not required that you have an attorney when you file the petition for a K-1 visa for your fiancée, but it is highly advisable to hire an attorney.
To navigate your way through the K-1 process, you have to fill out many forms. As a non-attorney, you will likely be unsure which forms to fill out, and exactly how to fill them out. You may read and reread the instruction, and think you understand . . . and yet some doubt may remain because you’ve never done this before. If you make any mistakes or omissions, then your case will be delayed, possibly for months, and you may even meet with a denial from the USCIS, which would require you to start all over again. During any delay, you will most likely be separated from your fiancée, creating a sense of intense anxiety and even despair.
If you hire an attorney, you are benefiting from his/her expertise—attorneys handle cases like this day-in and day-out, and know exactly what to do to help you get the visa for your fiancée.
- What is a CR-1 Marriage Visa?
- What are the requirements for me to apply for a CR-1Visa?
- How do I apply for the CR-1 Visa?
- What happens after my wife comes to the U.S.?
- Do I need an attorney to obtain a CR-1 visa for my fiancée?
Foreign spouses of U.S. citizens, and the spouse’s children, can come to the United States on a CR-1 or IR1 Visa (for the spouse) and CR-2 (for the children) visa. The CR-1 visa has replaced the old K-3 visa.
With a CR-1 visa, your wife gets her visa and Green Card all in one process. This saves time and money, and is a big advantage over the old K-3 visa. It takes about 6-8 months to obtain a CR-1 visa. A CR1 visa is for those that have been married less than two years while an IR1 visa is for those married two years or more.
- You must be a U.S. citizen;
- You must be legally married to your wife and that marriage deemed legal in your jurisdiction;
- You must meet minimum income requirements; if you do not have adequate income, you can use a joint sponsor.
To apply for a CR-1 visa involves a three-step process:
- First, you file a Form I-130 Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, with all necessary supporting documentation. This is filed with the designated USCIS mail center;
- Once you are notified of petition approval, your file is forwarded to the National Visa Center, at which point you must submit forms for both you and your wife.
- The National Visa Center approves your paperwork and sets an interview for your wife at the consulate in her native country. When she passes her interview, she (and any children) is then allowed to travel to the U.S.
Once your wife comes to the U.S. on her CR-1 visa, the USCIS will mail her Green Card to her within 1-2 months.
Once she has her Green Card, she becomes a legal permanent resident of the U.S., and she can travel freely and work in the U.S.
It is not required that you have an attorney when you file the petition for a CR-1 visa for your wife, but it is highly advisable to hire an attorney.
To navigate your way through the CR-1 process, you have to fill out many forms. As a non-attorney, you will likely be unsure which forms to fill out, and exactly how to fill them out. If you make any mistakes or omissions, then your case will be delayed, possibly for months and months.
If you hire an attorney, you are benefiting from his/her experience—they handle cases like this day-in and day-out, and know how to handle your case.
Contact K1 Fiancee Visa Lawyer today