Houston K1 Fiancé Visa Lawyer Helping Couples Navigate Immigration Laws
Love can happen anywhere, but the logistics of a marriage between two people from different countries can be complex. If you are a U.S. citizen planning on marrying an individual from another country, a K1 fiancé visa can allow your fiancé to legally immigrate to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage. Following your marriage, they will also have a path to apply for permanent residency or citizenship. The Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC can explain how K1 visas work and guide you through every step of the application process so your experience is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Fiancé Visas?
Visa applicants and their future spouses must meet specific requirements to apply for a K1 visa, including:
- The sponsor must be a United States citizen: Only a U.S. citizen sponsor can apply for a K 1 visa for their foreign citizen fiancé. If you are a U.S. green card holder, your fiancé may petition for a marriage visa (CR-1 spousal visa), but they will not be eligible for a K1 visa.
- The visa sponsor and their alien fiancé must be eligible to marry: You must prove that you and your fiancé are legally free to marry. If you have been married before, you must demonstrate that any previous marriages have been legally terminated through divorce, annulment, or death.
- They must both have a serious intention to marry: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes many steps to prevent marriage fraud. You must demonstrate that you and your foreign fiancé have a genuine relationship and aren’t simply marrying for immigration purposes. To protect both parties, the U.S. embassy will interview your fiancé to determine the nature of your relationship. Once the K1 visa is approved, you must get married within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.
- They must have met in person at least once in the last two years: Except in rare cases of extreme hardship or when a couple’s cultural or religious traditions forbid them from meeting, they must show evidence of an in-person meeting in the last two years.
- They must prove that they can provide adequate financial support to their fiancé: You and your fiancé must meet minimum income requirements. These vary depending on factors such as where you live and whether you have any dependents. If you cannot meet the requirement, you may need the assistance of a joint sponsor to qualify.
- The fiancé must not have a criminal history: As with all non-immigrant visa applications, the USCIS will examine your fiancé’s criminal record as part of the K1 visa application process. You may need a waiver if they have been convicted of serious crimes or have several drug or alcohol-related offenses. An immigration attorney can help you overcome these issues if necessary.
What Are the Steps for Filing a K1 Visa?
The U.S. citizen petitioner must file their K1 fiancé visa application from within the United States. Their fiancé will need to complete their portion of the visa process by working closely with the U.S. embassy or consulate within their home country. Every country has a slightly different fiance visa process, so it is essential to follow the instructions received from the embassy or consulate closely. However, the basic steps are as follows:
- The U.S. citizen files their I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé) application with their regional USCIS service center and pays the filing fee. If your fiancé has children under 21 who will also be emigrating, you must list them on this form and file for separate K2 visas on their behalf.
- If the USCIS accepts the petition, they will review it, perform a background check, request any further information they deem necessary, and make a decision on the petition.
- Once the USCIS approves the petition, it will be sent to the U.S. consulate or embassy of the foreign citizen fiancé so they can instruct the individual on how to proceed. Typically, they must schedule a visa interview and a medical examination with an authorized physician.
- As part of the visa interview process, your fiancé must demonstrate that you have a legitimate relationship that justifies the approval of a K1 visa. They may also need to provide other documents necessary for immigration purposes, such as their visa applications, divorce or death certificates for any previous spouses, passport-style photos, bank account information proving they can financially support themselves, and more.
- If the U.S. embassy or consulate approves your application, you will typically receive your K1 visa within a few days.
How Long Does the K1 Visa Application Process Take?
The visa process is complex, and the time it takes to get your application approved can vary based on many factors. An experienced immigration lawyer can help ensure that all your documents are submitted correctly, eliminating any unnecessary processing delays. In most cases, the USCIS will approve your I-129F in about four to five months from the filing date. Once this approval is sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate, it can take another two to three months to receive your K1 visa. However, this is just a rough estimate, as timelines may differ for specific cases or countries. Your lawyer can provide a better estimate of how long your unique case may take.
What Are Your Next Steps After Your Fiancé Visa is Approved?
After a K1 visa is approved, it must be used to travel to the U.S. within six months, or it becomes invalid. Following arrival in the U.S., you must marry within 90 days. After the marriage, you are eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status and get a conditional green card through an adjustment of status. To keep your permanent residency and get a regular green card, you must fulfill specific requirements, including maintaining the marriage for two years and petitioning the government to remove the conditions on your green card at least 90 days before it expires.
How Can an Experienced K1 Visa Lawyer Help You?
Immigration law is often confusing, and you may have many questions about your application. If you have concerns or need more information, do not hesitate to reach out to our law firm. The helpful lawyers at the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon, PLLC, can help you ensure that you meet the application requirements, gather and organize the documents requested by the USCIS and foreign U.S. embassy, apply for any necessary waivers, and assist you with maintaining your spouse’s legal permanent resident status following your marriage. Contact our Houston office today at 281-606-0800 to schedule a consultation.