When planning a wedding, their citizenship and residency status is the last thing to cross the minds of most couples. For U.S. citizens engaged to citizens of other nations, however, gaining approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may be one of the most important steps in preparing for their futures.
Understanding K-1 visas, the process of getting them and their requirements, may help ease the path for couples planning to start their lives together in America.
Applying for a fiancé visa
According to the U.S. Department of State, to gain lawful U.S. entry for a foreign-citizen fiancé takes two steps. First, filing the appropriate petition form with the local USCIS office, and second, applying for a K-1 visa. If USCIS approves their petitions, the National Visa Center will forward the petition to the consulate or embassy in the fiancé’s country of origin. At that point, they and their fiancé will receive written communication directing them to file the visa application and pay the applicable fee. After completing an interview and medical examination, and meeting the vaccination requirements, USCIS will make a determination.
Marrying upon arrival
To qualify for a K-1 fiancé visa, applicants and their betrothed must mean to create a life together. The purpose of their marriage should not focus on gaining U.S. residency. According to USCIS, those with K-1 nonimmigrant status have to marry within 90 days of arriving in the U.S. These visas expire at the end of that period, which means that those who do not marry within the 90 days must leave the U.S. or face possible deportation.
Taking the necessary steps to gain a fiancé visa may help couples focus on what matters most – each other and their future together.