Your engaged! Congratulations! Now, add to your list of already overwhelming wedding planning details the all important immigration issue – how does my foreign-citizen fiance get into the United States for our wedding day? Well, the simple answer is a K-1 nonimmigrant visa (A.K.A. the fiance visa).
The foreign-citizen fiance of a United States citizen is eligible for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa which permits the foreign-citizen fiance to travel to the United States and marry his/her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. Obtaining a K-1 visa involves several steps that can take months to complete. This process can be further delayed if mistakes are made in the documentation submitted to the government. A K-1 visa attorney can assist in streamlining the process and avoiding unnecessary delays.
The basic steps of the process are as follows:
- After retaining counsel, the U.S. citizen sponsor will file a Petition for Alien Fiance along with supporting documentation. Your attorney will assist in the completion of the petition and the gathering of any required documentation.
- Once the petition is approved, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) where it will be assigned a case number before being forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where the K-1 visa beneficiary (foreign-citizen fiance) lives. The Consulate will contact the K-1 visa beneficiary to schedule an interview. However, before the interview can be scheduled, the K-1 visa beneficiary must provide all required documentation and forms to the Consulate. Any delay in the submission of documents will result in a delay of the interview. A K-1 visa attorney can assist in the gathering and production of all required forms and documents, as well as, the preparation for the interview.
- Once all required documentation is submitted, the K-1 beneficiary will attend an interview with the Consulate. Following the interview, the K-1 visa beneficiary will receive his/her passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet of documents. Upon entry to the United States, the K-1 visa beneficiary must be prepared to present his/her passport containing the visa and the unopened sealed packet provided by the Consulate.
- Following the date of entry, the U.S. citizen sponsor and the K-1 visa beneficiary will have 90 days to marry. Once married, the K-1 visa beneficiary must adjust his/her status to a legal permanent resident. He/she can then obtain both travel and work authorizations.