Fiance Visa 101: What you need to know about the process
Fiance Visa 101
The USA is a land of free souls, and you can marry whomever you want whenever you wish, including foreign-born partners. In Nevada and Hawaii, approximately 1 in every 10 USA married citizens is married to a foreign-born spouse. The nationwide average for this melting pot of culture Census Bureau dubs "mixed-nativity," averages 7.4%.
However, before bringing your lover home, you may need a fiancé visa. Let us explore more about what a fiancé visa is, its requirements, and the application process.
What Is a Fiancé Visa?
A fiancé or K-1 visa is an authorization granted to a foreign citizen who intends to marry an American citizen. The application process is easy but may take up to a year, provided you have filed in the correct information.
Once in the USA, the couple is legally required to get married within 90 days, after which the visa status may change to permanent resident or Green Card holder by filing the proper paperwork.
The K-1 visa started in the 70s when American soldiers in Vietnam wanted to marry their Vietnamese spouses. But since the government did not have well-defined procedures on how to handle this, a few policy adjustments had to be made.
Today, U.S. laws elaborate on various ways to marry a non-US citizen and petition for them to immigrate to the USA.
Who Is Eligible for a Fiancé Visa?
One or both of you must meet the following basic guidelines to be eligible for the visa.
● One of the marrying parties must be a U.S. citizen
● You have met in person at least once within the last two years. But don't hesitate to request a waiver on this requirement if an in-person visit was impossible due to unavoidable circumstances such as a pandemic or if you could have violated some traditional marriage guidelines that are null and void in the USA.
● If you were in a previous marriage, it must have ended through a divorce, death, or annulment.
● The soon-to-be marriage should be legitimate, with long-term plans to spend life together as spouses.
● You intend to get married within 90 days after arriving in the U.S.
● The household income of the U.S. resident should meet the minimum requirement of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
What Are the Documents Needed for the Application for a Fiancé Visa?
The intending will have to complete a DS 160 once the applicant USCIS approves the fiance petition. The documents that you will need for the process are the following:
● Valid passport
● Divorce or death certificate if you were in a previous relationship
● A letter to show your criminal record for the fiancé and children aged 16 years and above
● Medical examination results
● Proof you are in a relationship
This includes shared photos, emails or text messages, and written confirmations from friends and family.
● Passport-size photos for each partner.
● Birth or naturalization certificates
How Do You Apply for a K-1 Visa?
1. Fill Correct Details in the Form I-129F
Form I-129F, also known as Petition for Alien Fiancé, is a visa petition filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), whose purpose is to prove that your relationship with a U.S. citizen is bona fide. It asks basic questions followed by support documents.
If the USCIS has the correct documents, you will receive a notification within four weeks that they are working on your petition. But the entire process of reviewing and approving I-129F takes more than six months. During that time, respond to the Request For Evidence from USCIS to provide more information if needed.
2. File Form DS-160
After approving I-129F, the USCIS will transfer your case to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will send a notice through your country's U.S. consulate with the date and location for the visa interview. This usually takes less than 30 days after case transfer and will request more support documents.
3. Attend the Interview
The visa interview usually takes place in the U.S. consulate and is straightforward. You will be asked questions such as what is your fiancé's name? Where were they born? Can you remember anything about how you met?
Most of these questions are designed to make authorities understand how you know each other. After that, the interviewer will make a same-day decision and ask you to pay a fee of $265.
4. Travel to the USA and Live a Happily-Ever-After Life
You will receive a sealed visa packet after the approval of K-1 status, which should not be tampered with or broken, as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents may reject it.
Also, please note you have four months to leave for the USA and three months after the arrival date to get married.
The Fiance visa process is quite different than the Marriage based visa application process. You should discuss your options with a licensed immigration attorney.
Patricia Elizee is an immigration attorney and manager of the Elizee Law Firm. 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone 305-371-8846