We’re Engaged!.. Now What?– K-1 Fiance(e) Visas
By: Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Theodore Huang
The Internet has radically changed our society. Consumers can purchase items anytime, anywhere. Breaking news is transmitted worldwide within seconds. Communities of people sharing common hobbies have sprung up serving as a forums where people can congregate, exchange ideas, and talk shop.
Inevitably, as people meet and interact, friendships are established, romances bloom, and marriage proposals are made. U.S. citizens who have fallen in love with a foreign national living abroad are then faced with the daunting question: “How do I bring my fiance(e) into the United States?” Fortunately, for these international couples, U.S. immigration regulations provide a means by which a foreign national can enter the United States to marry the U.S. citizen.
As set forth in INA §101(a)(15)(K)(i), the “K-1” fiancé(e) visa permits a foreign fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen within 90 days after entry. To be eligible for this visa, the U.S. citizen must file a petition containing supporting documentation with the USCIS service center having jurisdiction over his or her residence. The supporting documents must demonstrate the following:
1. Both the U.S. citizen and foreign national have a genuine intention to marry within 90 days of the foreign national’s arrival;
2. Both are legally free to marry;
3. Both have met within the past two years prior to the filing of the K-1 petition;
K-1 petition processing times are determined by the respective service center. As of June 23, 2004, the California Service Center processed K-1 petitions in approximately four to five months. Add to this the amount of time it takes for notice of the approval to be sent to the U.S. consulate overseas, background checks to be run, the foreign national called in for an interview—and the entire process can easily take eight months.
A number of pitfalls exist that could extend the waiting period or even result in a denial of the petition or visa. The USCIS is increasingly suspicious of fraudulent K-1 petitions and is subsequently scrutinizing international relationships to determine whether they are truly bona fide. A foreign national who has previously been in the U.S. and overstayed his/her stay for more than 180 days or who has a criminal history will also face challenges entering the U.S. Foreign applicants with these types of characteristics are strongly urged to consult an immigration attorney.
A variety of K-1 self-help websites are available on the net, making it tempting for couples to contemplate preparing the petition on their own. A word of caution: U.S. immigration law constantly evolves, and much of the information on the Internet is stale and unreliable. Given the importance of being reunited with a loved one as soon as possible, many couples have found that hiring the services of an immigration attorney and the ensuing peace of mind to be well worth the money.
Reeves & Associates is ready to expertly prepare your K-1 petition and provide quality advice during the course of your K-1 visa journey. Competent legal counsel and staff will review your K-1 paperwork and alert you to any issues so they may be addressed, minimizing problems during USCIS or consular review. Since the K-1 visa is part one of a two-step process, Reeves & Associates is also available to provide assistance after the couple has wed, providing quality services as the foreign fiancé(e) continues to the next step of adjustment his/her status to a permanent resident.