K-1 visa: the fiancè visa to get married in USA.


First of all, what does it consist of?

The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, is a little-known but extremely useful type of visa for couples who find themselves in a special situation: on the one hand, there is the presence of a U.S. citizen and, on the other, a partner with a different nationality. In other words, the K-1 visa is an option aimed at those couples in which one of the two partners has U.S. citizenship and the other has not yet acquired permanent residency in the United States and, for this reason, cannot take advantage of benefits connected with the possession of the Green Card.

The K-1 visa was created to enable the foreign partner to enter the United States in a facilitated manner in order to be able to proceed to contract marriage with his or her U.S. citizen partner (except that it may apply in cases where the petitioner is a green card holder, i.e., a legal permanent resident). The designation "fiancé visa" refers precisely to its application being made by the U.S. partner who intends to marry his or her foreign boyfriend or girlfriend.

It is important to note that the K-1 visa is applicable only in cases where the foreign partner does not already reside in the United States under another residence title but lives exclusively abroad. In addition, it will be crucial to prove that the couple has a genuine relationship and that the relationship has bona fides, not just the goal of obtaining the visa.

What are the eligibility requirements?

In order to apply for a K-1 visa, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, which is a very important step in the process.

Specifically, one of the prerequisites is that at least one of the two parties involved in the relationship is a U.S. citizen.

In addition, it will be necessary to demonstrate the parties' willingness to enter into marriage on U.S. soil within 90 days of the non-U.S. citizen's entry, as well as the absolute absence of any impediment. Lastly, the couple must show that they've met in person within the two years before submitting the visa application.

However, there are some exceptions, particularly with regard to the last requirement: if meeting in person would violate strict and established traditions of either party or social practices, an exemption from this requirement can be requested.Or alternatively, in situations where meeting in person could cause extreme hardship to one of the parties, it will be possible to show that this requirement cannot be met.

Because of these things, getting a fiancé visa requires some care and a lot of planning, especially when it comes to the paperwork needed to show that you are eligible and meet the requirements. 

What procedure will then be required to apply for permanent residence?

After the marriage is celebrated, the non-U.S. citizen can proceed with the application for permanent residence by filing the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status. This procedure allows a non-US citizen to transition from K-1 visa holder status to permanent resident status in the US, which provides significant benefits such as the ability to work and live permanently in the country.

It is important to note that the process of applying for permanent residency can be complex and take quite a long time to complete. But once the non-U.S. citizen gets permanent residency, he or she will have all the rights and benefits that U.S. residents have, such as access to public services and the chance to apply for U.S. citizenship after a certain amount of time. 

What happens if the non-U.S. citizen has a child who has to follow him/her to the United States?

When it comes to moving to the United States, it is important to consider not only the eligibility requirements characterized by the fiancé visa but also the specific needs of one's family. If, in fact, a non-U.S. citizen wishes to bring their offspring with them to the United States, it will be necessary to consider applying for a K-2 visa. It is important to note that this type of visa is only available if the child is under the age of 21 and has not yet entered into marriage.

Basically, if the child meets these criteria, the applicant will be able to apply for a K-2 visa simultaneously with the K-1 application for the spouse. This is particularly useful for those who intend to move to the United States with their family and ensure that all family members are united under one roof.

But it's important to think about visa processing times and deadlines so you can plan your move well and make sure the whole family has an easy time. 

Is it possible to work on a K-1 visa?

After gaining admission to the United States through the K-1 visa, the non-U.S. citizen will have the opportunity to apply for a work permit in order to engage in work activities in the United States through the submission of the Application for Employment Authorization to USCIS. This application must be sent in after entering the United States and while the K-1 visa is still valid.

However, it is important to note that any employment clearance obtained through a nonimmigrant visa will only be valid for the first 90 days following entry. Also, the non-U.S. citizen can only apply for an extension of his or her work permit if he or she has officially applied for permanent residence.

It should be noted that the work permit granted under the K-1 visa is temporary and will be valid until the K-1 visa expires, but may be extended if necessary.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the work permit does not grant any right to the non-U.S. citizen to remain in the United States after the visa expires if he or she has not obtained permanent residency.

What happens if the non-U.S. citizen has a different visa or enters the U.S. as a tourist without having obtained a visa? Is it possible to contract marriage?

No! And the consequences for a non-U.S. citizen who enters on another visa with the intention of marrying and residing in the United States may be severe.
U.S. law is very clear on this point: if you try to get a visa or enter the U.S. by saying one thing but meaning another (called "dual intent"), it could be considered fraud, which can lead to serious consequences, such as not being able to get future immigration benefits, including permanent residency, a fine of more than $10,000, and in some cases, jail time of up to 5 years. 

In contrast, what happens if a non-U.S. citizen enters the country on a regular visa and then decides to marry? 

In the case of non-U.S. citizens who intend to contract marriage with a U.S. citizen and apply for permanent residence in the United States, the situation may vary depending on the circumstances. If the non-U.S. citizen entered the country on a visa other than a K-1 visa, he or she will be able to apply for permanent residency once married. However, if he is in the United States illegally, the situation becomes more complicated. In many cases, he will not be able to apply for an adjustment of status to regularize his position into that of a permanent resident as long as he is in the United States. In this case, once married, the spouse will have to apply as a spouse and, if approved, obtain an immigrant visa at the U.S. embassy or foreign consulate. In any case, the process of obtaining permanent residence in the United States can be complex and requires careful consideration of individual circumstances.

And what happens in the case of individuals who are engaged but have not yet decided to get married?

The K-1 visa is a type of temporary visa that allows a non-U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the sole purpose of contracting marriage within the 90 days allowed from the date of entry. However, it is important to note that this type of visa is not designed to allow people to enter the United States for the purpose of getting to know each other or spending more time together to decide whether or not to enter into marriage.

The K-1 visa was created to allow U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens to marry and live together in the United States on a permanent basis. This means that the K-1 visa should not be seen as a tool to bring someone into the United States for extended periods of time without a valid reason. The fact that the K-1 visa is only good for 90 days after the date of entry shows that its main purpose is to let the bride and groom get married and start the process of getting permanent residency. 

What happens if marriage is not contracted within the allowed 90 days?

The K-1 visa expires 90 days from the date of entry into the United States and cannot be renewed. This means that if the non-U.S. citizen does not marry within this period, he or she will have to leave the country. It is important to note that the non-U.S. citizen is obligated to comply with U.S. immigration laws and leave the United States within the visa term if marriage has not been contracted.

If the non-U.S. citizen fails to comply with this obligation, he or she will be in violation of U.S. immigration law. This violation could affect future U.S. visa applications. In fact, U.S. immigration has the authority to deny visas to applicants who have violated immigration laws or who have been deported from the United States. In addition, behavior that violates immigration laws can have more serious consequences, such as being deported from the country and banned from entering the United States for a period of time.

For this reason, it is critical that the non-U.S. citizen abide by the K-1 visa duration and U.S. immigration laws so as not to jeopardize his or her future U.S. visa applications.

In case you want to plan the wedding, how much time is required for it to be released?

It is important to note that waiting times for approval of visa applications can vary greatly from case to case. Although there are indicative waiting times, it is always best to consider that each case may have its own particularities that may affect approval times.

In addition, wait times may vary depending on the number of applications waiting to be processed at any given time or based on U.S. government policies regarding immigration.

In general, indicative wait times can be found on the website of USCIS, the government agency that deals with immigration in the United States. Once the visa application process has been completed, approval of the application will be sent to the National Visa Center. From there, everything will be sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate, which will take the time to evaluate the visa application and make a final decision. Again, waiting times can be different depending on the specifics of the visa application process and the situation. 

Abogado Sarah Silvestri
Immigration Attorney

"Building your future in a new country, with us by your side"