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You met someone outside the United States, fell in love with them, asked them to marry you, and now what happens from an immigration standpoint?
The K-1 fiancé(e) visa is for foreign nationals coming to the United States to marry their U.S. citizen partner and reside in the U.S. If the fiancé(e) is not a citizen of the United States and you plan to get married in the United States, then the U.S. citizen must file a fiancé(e) petition with USCIS on behalf of their foreign national fiancé(e).
The U.S. citizen and the foreign national fiancé(e) must be free to marry (i.e. not still married to someone else), and have met at least once in person during the last two years. This requirement can be waived, but in very limited circumstances. The couple must also have the intention to marry each other within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival to the United States.
After the petition is approved, the foreign national fiancé(e) must obtain a K-1 visa issued at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad. Even if the K-1 petition is approved, the fiancé(e) must be considered “admissible” to the United States, so criminal history or prior U.S. immigration violations may affect his or her eligibility for the visa. Once the visa is issued, the foreign national fiancé(e) can travel to the United States.
The marriage must take place within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s entry. If the marriage does not take place within 90 days, or the foreign national fiancé(e) marries someone other than you (the U.S. citizen filing USCIS Form I-129F – Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)), the fiancé(e) will be required to leave the United States.
If the foreign national fiancé(e) intends to live and work permanently in the United States, the foreign national fiancé(e) should apply to become a permanent resident after the marriage. Please note, the foreign national fiancé(e) will initially receive conditional permanent residence status for two years. Conditional permanent residency is granted when the marriage is less than two years old at the time of adjustment to permanent residence status.
You may also apply to bring the foreign national fiancé(e)’s unmarried children, who are under age 21, to the United States.
After arriving in the United States, the foreign national fiancé(e) will be eligible to apply for a work permit based off of the K-1 visa. (Be aware that USCIS might not be able to process the work permit within the 90-day time limit for the marriage to take place.) The foreign national fiancé(e) should use Form I-765 to apply for a work permit. If the foreign national fiancé(e) applies for adjustment to permanent resident status, the foreign national fiancé(e) must re-apply for a new work permit after the marriage.
The team at Bashyam Shah Immigration Law Group has extensive experience in helping fiancé(e)s enter the United States from around the world. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to see if this is the right fit for you and your fiancé(e).