K-1 Fiance of U.S. Citizens
K–1 Visas Apply to Foreign Citizen Fiancé(e)s Who Intend to Marry in the United States
When a United States citizen becomes engaged to the citizen of a foreign country, he or she often finds himself or herself confronted with an immigration problem. If the couple intends, at some point in the future, to reside in the United States, they may wish to apply for what is called a K–1 visa, which pertains to a foreign born fiancé(e) who intends to marry a U.S. citizen.
K–1 visas only apply to fiancé(e)s who intend to marry in the United States, and not to couples who marry in a foreign country. A valid K–1 visa, once granted to the foreign–born fiancé(e), allows that individual to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e), who acts as their citizen sponsor, so long as the marriage occurs within 90 days of his or her arrival in the United States.
The eligible applicant for a K–1 visa who has children may also obtain, at the same time, K–2 visas for their children who are eligible.
What is the Purpose of the K–1 Visa?
As stated above, a K–1 visa holder may enter the United States to marry a United States citizen. But the K–1 visa is considered a nonimmigrant visa, since it does not, by itself, grant the fiancé(e) the right to permanently settle in the United States.
Once married, however, the K–1 visa holder can then proceed to apply for “legal permanent resident” status (or LPR, also referred to as the holder of a “green card”) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. If desired, the LPR may subsequently apply to become a naturalized United States citizen<, if they fulfill all the requirements of citizenship.
What is involved in Obtaining a K–1 Visa?
There are a number of legal requirements that must be fulfilled in order to apply for a K–1 visa. For example, the K–1 visa must be applied for by the U.S. citizen sponsor, with the USCIS office in the United States where that citizen lives. The application then proceeds through the USCIS within the United States, and then to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the foreign–born fiancé(e) resides. The foreign–born fiancé(e) must then comply with a number of requirements in order for the K–1 visa to be granted.
Because the purpose of the K–1 visa is to serve as a first step in becoming a permanent resident, some of the requirements for a K–1 visa are the same as that required for LPR status. Consequently, in applying for the K–1 visa, applicants may wish to fulfill more than the minimum requirements for the K–1 visa (such as obtaining the full complement of required vaccinations, rather than the minimum required), in order to make the subsequent application for LPR status move along more smoothly.
The majority of the application process takes place abroad in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the foreign–born fiancé(e) resides. For example, the embassy or consulate will require the applicant to undergo an interview, provide finger–prints, and undergo a medical examination. In addition, the K–1 applicant will have to provide a comprehensive set of documents, including: birth certificate; police certificate(s); photographs; various USCIS forms; and other documentation, such as an affidavit, proving he or she has adequate financial support. There are also fees associated with the application process.
When You Should Hire an Attorney To Aid in the K–1 Visa Process
As alluded to above, the K–1 visa application process can be rather complicated. Unless an individual is familiar with immigration law, U.S. citizen sponsors seeking legal assistance with the K–1 visa process should seriously consider hiring a qualified immigration attorney to assist them in pursuing a K–1 visa.
If you or someone you know is interested in obtaining a K–1 visa for a foreign–citizen fiancé(e), Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm can help. Ms. Lyttle is intimately familiar with U.S. immigration law, and she can help citizens and their foreign–citizen fiancé(e)s to navigate the K–1 visa process. Furthermore, because obtaining visas are a matter of federal law, rather than state law, she can handle visa applications for citizens living in any state, not merely the State of Texas.
Ms. Lyttle has experience working with immigration issues in Texas, and, because she is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, she can communicate directly with clients in these languages, read and understand documents in these languages, and communicate with any foreign officials in these languages, if necessary.
Be careful of attorneys offering unusually low flat fee to obtain the K–1 visa, as some of these low–priced services will include only the filing of the original application, and not the handling of the consular process, which is often the most difficult and time–consuming aspect of the visa process. In contrast, the flat–fee services offered by the Lyttle Law Firm include not only the filing of the application, but all of the consular processing involved in obtaining the K–1 visa.
The Lyttle Law Firm can give you and your fiancé(e) the peace of mind you need in undertaking this difficult and potentially frustrating task. Once hired, the Lyttle Law Firm will take over the application process from beginning to end, keeping a couple informed of the progress, and taking the stress out of the process so that they can focus on building their new life together, and not on the legal work involved in obtaining the visa. If you need assistance obtaining a K–1 visa for your foreign–born fiancé(e), contact the Lyttle Law Firm.