Long distant relationships are always hard.
Let us help you take the stress out of the immigration process. In the alphabet soup of visas, the fiancé visa has the designation of K-1 and is considered to be halfway between a temporary and permanent status. What we mean by that is that the K-1 is considered a nonimmigrant temporary visa but the individual is entering the United States with the intent to be married and file for permanent residence in the U.S. Only U.S. citizens can apply for a K-1 visa for their fiancé. Permanent residents (green card holders) are not eligible.
Step 1: Before you can make your application to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), you and your fiancé must have seen each other in person at least once within the last 2 years. If you have never met in person or have been apart for a long time without an in-person visit, then you need to make some travel plans first. There are exceptions to this rule but generally hard to get.
Step 2: Now that you have had a chance to see each other, you are ready to submit your “petition” or application to USCIS. The U.S. citizen is the person petitioning for their foreign national fiancé, thereby becoming the “Petitioner” in this process. You must complete a form, pay a fee and provide documents that goes to identity, eligibility, and relationship. Once your complete petition is submitted, USCIS will review your case. It not unusual for the USCIS to send a request for additional documents in this process. Once USCIS, hopefully, approves the file, an Approval Notice is issued and sent to you.
Step 3: Since your fiancé is living outside of the U.S., the approval of the K-1 visa is transmitted from USCIS to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in their home country. The US Embassy/Consulate will require your fiancé to submit a visa application, undergo a medical exam and pay a visa fee. The Embassy/Consulate will also require an affidavit of Support from the U.S. citizen petitioner. Then, your fiancé can schedule a visa appointment and go in for visa stamping.
Step 4: Once your fiancé has the visa in their passport, they can make travel plans and come to the U.S. Upon entry, the border official will give them a temporary stay of 90 days.
Step 5: Get Married! You have 90 days to make it happen. You don’t have to plan an elaborate wedding in 90 days – you can always go down to the Courthouse and have your big celebration down the road when you are not so rushed.
Step 6: Apply for Permanent Residence (green card).
Here is the fine print…
If you and your fiancé decide not to be married, your fiancé must return to their home country. The K-1 visa cannot be changed into any other type of status other than marriage to the petitioner. Also, USCIS approval of the file does not automatically mean the Embassy will issue the visa, the Consular Officer will also have to be satisfied that the relationship is real and valid.
Please note that this is just a general overview of the process. If you would like information about the specifics of your case, please call our office at 770-551-2700 and let us advise you on your unique situation.
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