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There’s a special visa, the K-1, for a U.S. Citizen to apply for a fiancée abroad. Green card holders cannot apply for their fiancée. If granted, this allows the foreign fiancée to come to the U.S. to marry within 3 months, and then apply to “Adjust Status” or get a Green Card while remaining in the U.S. Same-sex couples are treated the same as other couples; you must prove all the following, and then get married in a U.S. state where same-sex marriages are legal.
- You’re a U.S. Citizen.
- You plan to marry within 90 days of your fiancée entering the United States.
- You and your fiancée are both free to marry. Any prior marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment – you’ll need to provide all legal documents to show this.
- You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition unless this would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancée’s foreign culture or social practice, or such a meeting would result in extreme hardship to you. You must get a waiver of the meeting requirement if one of these applies to you.
The U.S. citizen also cannot have a prior specified criminal offense conviction against a minor under the Adam Walsh Act. These include sex offenses and kidnapping. If he does have such a conviction, there are some exceptions but they are difficult to get.
To apply for a fiancée visa, you must file an I-129F petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and enclose documents to prove all requirements above. That first step takes about 5 months from the time you file for a decision, or longer if they ask for more evidence. If approved, the papers next go to the National Visa Center (NVC) and then to the embassy. The foreign fiancée then completes the online Form DS-160 application and requests an interview where numerous documents are required: confirmation of the online application and fee payment; passport; death or divorce certificates for both the fiancée and the U.S. citizen petitioner; police certificates; medical examination; proof of financial support; photographs of yourself; and proof of the relationship.
As we explained above, there’s no guarantee the embassy will approve your fiancée visa application! It’s completely up to the embassy and you’ll get very little time. How can an immigration lawyer help? We know the requirements and the many documents and evidence you’ll need for the petition and to take to your interview. Our knowledge should help you get to your interview, and hopefully your approval, faster. Sometimes couples waste months and months getting ready because they don’t know what’s needed.
Your interview is very important, as the officer will decide if s/he believes your relationship is genuine. We’ll help you prepare for your interview – not tell you what to say – so you won’t be as nervous on the real day. But it’s much better to have your papers and case in order before you begin so don’t need to worry about that. It’s very difficult to change the mind of the embassy if they decide against you and there are few rights of appeal. Typical time spent on the K-1 process is about 6-12 months and it helps to get good legal advice to make sure you have the strongest possible case for your interview.
If the K-1 visa is granted, the fiancée can enter the U.S. and must marry within 90 days. and the fiancée can apply for a work permit valid for 90 days. If the marriage doesn’t take place, that’s the end of the visa and the work permit and the fiancée must leave the country. If the marriage does take place, the foreign spouse can file an I-485 petition to adjust status and get their green card.
Filipino K-1 Visas – What are the main reasons a K-1 visa is denied?
There are more K-1 applications in Manila than anywhere else in the world so the Manila embassy is very familiar with them. The embassy’s website says:
“K-1 applications are subject to the same review standards as immigrant visa applications. The main reasons for visa refusal are: lacking documentation; need to review or verify evidence of the relationship; lack of a petitionable relationship; misrepresentation of the facts; medical concerns; criminal grounds and potential public charge.
A common basis for refusal is a prior marriage for the beneficiary or the petitioner that has not been legally terminated. There is no divorce in the Philippines. A consular officer will only accept a death certificate or a court ruling of annulment or of presumptive death as evidence that a Filipino marriage has been terminated. A U.S. citizen may terminate a Filipino marriage through a U.S. divorce.” Click here for more information on fiancée visas from the Manila embassy’s website.