K-1 Fiance Visa
Although they still take over a year to process, fiancé visas are a quicker way than the green card process for a fiancé of a United States citizen to facilitate their immigration to the United States faster and obtain a work permit while living with their spouse in the United States while they await their green card processing. The fiancé visa first requires that the United States citizen and their foreign fiancé have the intention to marry and they must agree to do so within ninety days of the foreign fiancé entering the United States on the fiancé visa. There is also a requirement that they have physically met within two years of filing the application and as with any family sponsorship it is important to document the genuine and bona fide nature of the relationship through photographs, affidavits from friends and family, as well as all evidence of correspondence.
Although times vary through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as the Consulates which conduct visa interviews, a fiancé visa is generally quicker than applying for a green card through a spouse from abroad.
Once inside the United States the fiancé is required to file an adjustment of status application to a green card and initiate the process of becoming a permanent resident within ninety days. Proof of the marriage will be required at that time.
Specific requirements include:
- The sponsoring partner must be a citizen of the United States.
- Both partners must be eligible to marry. Any prior divorce decrees, annulments, or death certificates must be provided to show that any previous marriages have been terminated.
- K-1 visas are available to same-sex partners
- The legitimacy of the relationship must be proved with evidence such as photographs, flight tickets, as well as hotel reservations of trips taken together as a couple, written statements from friends and colleagues who are aware of the engagement, plus letters or emails between the partners.
- The couple must be able to prove that they have met in person at least one time within the two years prior to filing the visa form (except for cases of extreme hardship, or where in-person meetings would violate cultural, religious, or social norms). Evidence of such meetings may include flight itineraries, hotel itineraries, dated photos.
- Each partner must provide a signed statement indicating an intent to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s arrival in the United States. If concrete wedding plans have been made, it’s also a good idea to submit evidence such as wedding invitations, receipts of deposits on a venue.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé must meet certain income requirements. Specifically, the adjusted gross income on their most recent tax return must be equal at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If they are unable to meet this requirement alone, a joint financial sponsor must file a supplemental “affidavit of support.”
The visa interview takes place at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the sponsored fiancé’s home country, usually about 2-3 months after the embassy’s initial notice to the beneficiary. The interviewing officer will typically make a decision on the case either the same day of the interview or shortly afterward. If they need additional evidence, they will request that it be submitted directly to the U.S. consulate.
Once requirements are met and the K-1 visa is approved, the sponsored fiancé is given a total of six months from the date of approval of the initial I-129F form to travel to the United States. Upon arrival, the couple must get married within 90 days, or the sponsored fiancé will lose their K-1 status. If the couple decides not to get married, the sponsored partner will not be eligible to remain in the United States and is required to leave the country.
You will need to apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) before you can work. Like the K-1 visa, this employment authorization is only valid for 90 days, starting from the day you arrived in the United States. If you choose to apply for permanent residency after you arrive, and file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), you can include Form I-765 with your application. This would grant you work authorization for one year.