Understanding the Fiancé(e) Visa Process

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Here is a common immigration scenario: a US citizen meets a non-citizen overseas and wants to marry them and begin their life together in the US. These couples often face a daunting petitioning process and are often unsure of how to proceed.

To complete this process, the couple must apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, more commonly known as a fiancé(e) visa. In some ways, this procedure is much like other sponsorship/petitioning procedures through the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), but has added requirements. We take a look at the basic steps below:

Step 1: File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)

Filing this with the USCIS will begin the K-1 visa procedure. The petitioner (the US citizen) must prove their citizenship credentials, that they intend to marry within 90 days of receiving the visa, and that they are not married to anyone else. They must also prove that they’ve met the non-citizen partner once in the last two years.

Step 2: Consulate Interview

In the process of evaluating your Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), the USCIS will call upon the non-citizen partner to be interviewed in their country’s US consulate. The interview is conducted to confirm that the proposed marriage is legitimate.

Step 3: Issuing of the K-1 Visa

If the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) and the consulate interview are both approved, then the K-1 visa will be issued. That will give the non-citizen partner permission to travel and stay in the US. It will be required, however, that the couple marries within 90 days of the issuing of the K-1 visa.

Step 4: Marriage and Status Transition

Once the couple marries, they can then look at their options for getting the non-citizen spouse Green Card status. Contrary to popular belief, marriage does not grant automatic citizenship– however it will allow the couple to establish permanent residence in the US with Green Card status.

If this sounds like a lengthy process, it can be. However, there are options to look into. For instance, the K-3 nonimmigrant visa can allow some non-citizen fiancé(e)s (and their children) to live and work in the US while they’re waiting for their K-1 status to be approved. It is highly advised that a non-citizen not enter the country under another visa (such as a tourist or student visa) with the intent on marrying a US citizen. This method is seen as “short-cutting” the proper K-1 process and only welcomes suspicion from the USCIS.

If you are a US citizen that is looking to marry a non-citizen, then Toppins Law Firm, P.C. can assist you. Attorney Wilka Toppins, Esq. has more than 25 years of experience in assisting both families and businesses with immigration matters and can ensure that your immigration goals are legally and assuredly pursued.

Contact us today to speak a proven Houston immigration law attorney ready to assist you. Se Habla Español.