K-1 Fiancé Visas - Family Immigration Attorney
If you’re a U.S. citizen who is engaged to marry a non-citizen, you may be able to petition the U.S. government for a K-1 fiancé visa so that you and your partner can get married here, in the United States. After the government approves your petition, your fiancé can come to the U.S. to marry you within 90 days of his or her arrival. After you get married, you can then petition the government to adjust your spouse’s status and apply for a green card to get your spouse lawful permanent residency in the U.S.
What is a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
A K-1 visa allows the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States to wrap up wedding plans and get married. These are very short-term visas, and you must get married before the visa expires; if you don’t, your fiancé can be removed from the country.
Only U.S. citizens are eligible to petition the government for fiancé visas. Lawful permanent residents can’t sponsor a fiancé for this type of visa.
How Does a Fiancé Visa Work?
You may be able to bring your fiancé to the United States if you intend to marry each other within 90 days of his or her arrival. You must also meet these requirements:
- You, the petitioner, must be a United States citizen. Unfortunately, even if you’re a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and have a green card, you cannot sponsor a fiancé to come to the United States.
- You must both be eligible to marry. If either of you were married before, you must provide documentation that your previous marriage or marriages have been lawfully terminated through divorce, annulment or death. That means you’ll have to show U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proof such as a divorce decree, proof of the annulment or a death certificate that shows you are no longer married to your former spouse.
- You must prove that you are in a genuine relationship. The United States government calls this a bona fide relationship, and it means that you’re married because you want to have a future together – not because one of you wants a U.S. immigration benefit.
- You’ll have to show the United States government that you and your future spouse have met in person at least one time in the past two years. However, that requirement can sometimes be waived – such as when meeting your fiancé in person would create extreme hardship or it would violate cultural, social or religious norms. Your Austin immigration attorney can help you ask for a waiver if this situation applies to you.
- The partner in the U.S. must make enough money to meet or exceed 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. The U.S. citizen partner must show previous years’ tax returns to prove income. If the sponsor cannot meet the requirement alone, he or she may find a joint financial sponsor to file what’s known as an Affidavit of Support. That document shows that if you cannot provide for your fiancé, there is someone who can help you do so.
It may be in your best interest to work with an Austin immigration attorney if you’d like to sponsor your fiancé to come to the U.S. for your wedding. That way, you can focus more on wedding planning without worrying about filling out and filing paperwork – or worse, making a critical mistake on paperwork that could cost your fiancé the ability to come to the United States to marry you.
How Long Does a K-1 Visa Last?
A K-1 visa only lasts for 90 days. You cannot extend this type of visa, so you must marry within 90 days.
Who is Eligible for a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
You are only eligible to sponsor your fiancé if:
- You are a U.S. citizen
- You and your fiancé intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival to the U.S.
- You are both legally free to marry
- You met each other in person at least once within the previous two years (unless you qualify for a waiver)
Supporting Documentation for K-1 Visas
You will need to include supporting documentation with your petition, including things such as:
- A completed Form DS-160
- A police certificate from the non-citizen’s country of residence, as well as all countries where he or she has lived for 6 months or more since the age of 16
- Birth certificates
- Divorce or death certificates for any previous spouses
- Evidence of financial support
- Evidence that a bona fide relationship exists
- Medical examination records
- The non-U.S. citizen’s passport, which must be valid for at least 6 months beyond his or her intended period of stay on the fiancé visa
- Two 2-inch-by-2-inch photographs that meet these requirements
Your attorney can help you understand what types of documentation are acceptable and explain what else you may need.
Common Questions About K-1 Visas
Check out these common questions about K-1 fiancé visas. If you don’t see your question answered here, please call our office – we’ll be happy to provide you with the answers you need.
How Much Does a K-1 Visa Cost?
A K-1 fiancé visa costs – as of this writing – a $535 filing fee.
Do You Need a K-1 Visa if You’re Already Present in the U.S.?
You do not need to get your fiancé a K-1 visa if your fiancé is already in the United States. However, if you are engaged to marry a U.S. citizen, you need to know that you can only marry a U.S. citizen if you are lawfully present in the United States. You cannot expect to receive any immigration benefits if you marry a U.S. citizen if you have illegally crossed a border or if you were in the U.S. on a visa that expired. Rather than giving you an immigration benefit in either of these circumstances, the U.S. government will tell you that you must leave the country. You may also be barred from ever returning to the United States.
Can Your Fiancé’s Children Come to the U.S.?
Your fiancé’s kids may be allowed in the U.S. with their parent if they’re unmarried and under the age of 21. They will be in K-2 nonimmigrant status while they’re in the U.S. awaiting your marriage. After you and your fiancé marry, you can petition the U.S. government to adjust their status, as well – as long as they are still unmarried and under the age of 21.
Can Your Fiancé Work While on a K-1 Visa?
Your fiancé may be able to apply for work authorization while he or she is in the U.S. awaiting your marriage. However, the work authorization is only valid for 90 days from his or her admission to the United States.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Married Within 90 Days?
If you don’t get married within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival in the United States, your fiancé must leave the U.S. immediately. If your fiancé doesn’t leave immediately, he or she is in violation of U.S. immigration law, which can result in deportation.
Do You Need to Talk to an Austin Immigration Attorney About a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
If you’re trying to bring your foreign fiancé to the United States so you can get married, we may be able to help you. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation – you’ll talk to an experienced Austin immigration attorney who can give you case-specific legal advice on the spot.