Many people have seen the drama-filled reality TV show, 90-day fiancé, and in the age of online dating, you may find love in another country too. Whether you meet someone online and begin a romantic relationship before meeting in person or meet someone while you are in another country for vacation or work, you might need help navigating the immigration process.
If you are a United States citizen, engaged to a citizen of a different country, the next step is applying for a K-1 Visa, also known as a fiancé visa, to sponsor your soon-to-be spouse to enter the United States to marry.
The initial eligibility requirements are that the sponsoring party is a U.S. citizen (not a permanent resident or a green card holder), both parties must be eligible to marry (i.e., not already married), the couple must have met in-person (not just online) within the past two years, and the parties must both show the intent to marry within 90 days of entering the U.S. The sponsoring party also must meet certain income requirements to show they will be able to support their fiancé, since the party entering the U.S. on a K-1 visa is not eligible to work right away.
Specific evidence is necessary to prove to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that you meet all the requirements and, importantly, that you are in a legitimate relationship. The U.S. government is concerned about fraudulent marriages and will require evidence with the filing to show the legitimacy of the couple’s relationship. You might need to show photographs, flight itineraries, correspondence between you and your partner, written statements confirming your relationship from family or friends, etc.
Although the parties must move fairly quickly after the K-1 visa is approved and get married within 90-days of entering the U.S., the process to get approved is slower. USCIS may take between 4-9 months and sometimes even longer depending on the current processing times when you file your application. After the visa application is approved, the sponsored fiancé will receive an interview notice from the U.S. Embassy in their home country. At this point, the sponsored fiancé will need to appear at the designated U.S. Embassy on the scheduled date and time and answer questions about the relationship. The interviewing officer then typically makes his or her decision almost immediately. If you receive approval from the consular officer after the interview, the sponsored fiancé is off to the U.S. and wedding bells are ringing!
Finally, you might ask: “what’s next?” Your fiancé’s K-1 was approved, they have entered the U.S., now what? Perhaps you need a prenuptial agreement to further protect your pre-marital assets?
If you and your fiancé need help navigating the immigration process or have any family law-related questions, call Lardiere McNair DiNicola & Stonebrook, Ltd. LPA, to set up a consultation.
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