A fiancé visa, or "K-1" visa, allows a fiancé of a US citizen to enter the US for the purpose of marrying the US citizen. Fiancé petitions have one of the highest approval rates of petitions submitted to USCIS and there are law offices and non-attorney legal service agencies touting 100% approval records or guaranteed approvals. Still, not all applications are approved and great care should be taken to make sure all requirements are met before you submit the application. If you are thinking about filing a K-1 visa petition for a fiancé(e) living in another country, a consultation with an attorney will answer many of the questions you may have about the application process and ensure that the appropriate steps are taken toward permanent residency.
Frequently asked questions:
1. I've met someone online and I would like to bring her to the US to visit me. Is the K-1 visa the right visa for my situation?
The K-1 visa is not a girlfriend visa. The K-1 visa requires that the traveling fiancée marry the US citizen within the period allotted in the visa. A B-2 visitor visa may be appropriate where travel to the US is intended solely for a brief visit. A B-2 visa is not appropriate if the intent is to remain in the US.
2. I haven't met my fiancé in person, yet. How important is it that I meet my fiancé before I submit the petition?
USCIS requires that the engaged couple have seen each other in person. Two narrow exceptions are made for "extreme hardship" and for specific cultural prohibitions against a face-to-face meeting prior to marriage. If you think there is extreme hardship in your case, you should consult with an attorney to see if such hardship rises to USCIS's definition of extreme hardship.
3. My fiancé entered the US with a K-1 visa and now we are married. Is my spouse now a permanent resident?
No. Marriage to a US citizen does not automatically make the non-citizen spouse a permanent resident. When you are married, you must submit an application to adjust the non-citizen spouse's status to permanent resident. The K-1 visa is a temporary visa and expires on the date provided on the visa. If the adjustment of status application is not submitted prior to the expiration of the K-1 visa, the non-citizen spouse will be out of status.
4. I'm planning a trip overseas to see my fiancé. Will it speed things up with USCIS if I marry him over there?
When, how, and where you are married are matters that are deeply personal. Cultural and family considerations may take precedence over filing convenience. You should always check current processing times at the appropriate USCIS service center. Do not assume that petitions for spouses are expedited.
5. I understand the forms and documents I need to submit. Why would I need an attorney?
Attorneys can be particularly helpful during the process. There are multiple stages you have to traverse to get to permanent residency for your fiancé: the initial fiancé petition, consular processing, the application for adjustment of status and the petition to remove conditions. Various forms and documents must be submitted in a timely manner at each of these stages. An attorney can guide you through these different stages, giving specific legal advice based on the specific facts of your case.
The Law Office of Jin S. Kim
2130 Center Street, Suite 7
Berkeley, California 94704
Consultations by appointment only. Evening and Saturday appointments available.