The decision to marry is one of the most important ones a person can face. This decision is even more difficult in transnational relationships. For a foreign partner who has never resided in or visited the United States, the prospect of leaving the familiar customs and culture of home and relocating to a new country can be daunting. Fortunately, the U.S. immigration law takes this aspect of the transnational relationship into account by providing for a special visa for fiancés.
The fiancé visa, or K-1 visa, permits a U.S. citizen to petition for his or her fiancé abroad. Once approved, the fiancé is permitted to enter the United States on a 90 day visa. During this 90 day period the couple has the opportunity to see if relocation to the United States is the right thing for their relationship. If it is, the couple must marry by the end of the 90 day period and then file an adjustment of status application for the new spouse. On the other hand, if the couple decides that residing in the United States is not right for them, the fiancé can return to his or her home country before the end of 90 day period without any consequences.
If your foreign national fiancé has dependent children (unmarried and under 21 years old) you are permitted to include those children on the fiancé visa petition. If approved, the children will be granted K-2 status and can enter the U.S. with the K-1 parent.
Unfortunately, there has historically been abuse of the K-1 visa for various illegal purposes. As a result, both USCIS and the Department of State scrutinize K-1 cases very carefully. Past immigration history of the parties (including past K-1 visa petitions) and any criminal history of the U.S. citizen are common factors that can impact the processing of the petition if not addressed properly at the outset. Even the slightest mistake can result in significant delays in processing – delays that can have a devastating effect on a relationship. It is therefore imperative that the K-1 petition is properly prepared and documented and all Department of State visa appointment processing is completed in a timely fashion.
Importantly, there are severe consequences for any violation of the terms and conditions of the K-1 visa, to include a bar on adjustment of status. Thus, even if your fiancé successfully enters the United States on his or her K-1 visa, it is important that all of the subsequent steps are completed in a timely fashion and all legal requirements met.
Lastly, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the K-1 visa became available to same sex couples. Since that time we have assisted numerous same sex couples navigate the fiancé visa process.
If you are considering pursuing a fiancé visa for your foreign partner our attorneys can provide you start to finish representation and take the worry and stress off your shoulders.