Fiance(e) Visas (K-1)
A successful Fiancée Visa application has two basic parts:
PART I: Is the filing of forms and supporting documents with the USCIS and their initial approval.
PART II: is the Embassy/Consulate review, interview and issuance of the Fiancée Visa.
To help us clearly show you the fiance visa process here is an example we have found to be helpful to our clients:PART I: In our example of the fiance visa process we will assume that:
- Jim is a US citizen
- Jim’s fiance Lola is a citizen of the Philippines and lives there at this time
- Jim met Lola on the internet and has visited her in the Philippines at least once in the last two years
- Jim wants to bring Lola to the US to marry him and remain in the US as a permanent resident green card holder; and to possibly obtain US citizenship later on.
- Jim sees Amerilawgroup Attorneys on the internet or, as often happens, is referred by a friend or relative. Jim likes what he sees, and arranges for a consultation with an immigration Attorney
- At the initial consultation the Attorney and Jim determine what the issues are in the case, discuss qualification requirements for he and Lola, and talk about the fastest, most efficient and least expensive process to get Jim and Lola’s Fiancée visa.
- Talking it over with Lola, Jim tells the Attorney that he wants to get the fiance visa process started. His Attorney tells Jim about the various payment plans available (if needed) and obtains the initial personal information Jim, Lola, and the Attorney need to open their secure electronic file and set their secure Amerilawgroup password.
- Amerilawgroup is very concerned about the privacy and security of your files and information. We have engaged the services of experts to assure this privacy and security.
- Jim’s Attorney then asks Jim and Lola to complete a detailed questionnaire concerning personal information needed to successfully file for a fiance visa.
- Since the security and privacy of Jim and Lola’s information is very important only they and their Attorney and his/her staff have access to this information; Jim and Lola each have a private security code to access this information whenever they wish.
- Jim and Lola complete their Attorney’s questionnaire using their Attorney’s secure online computer program right on their computer screen. Jim, in the US and Lola in the Philippines, each send their information to their Attorney for review by just clicking a button on their computer screens. Jim may be in the US and Lola far away but it does not matter; we can prepare a client’s case no matter where the parties reside.
- Their Attorney carefully reviews Jim and Lola’s information, line by line, asks for other information as needed, and completes their forms as required by the USCIS for a successful fiance visa filing.
- After preparation, Jim and Lola’s Attorney sends them the completed forms electronically and they print them out and sign them. The forms are ready to go!
- Along with the original questionnaires their Attorney has also sent Jim and Lola a booklet Amerilawgroup has written detailing all supporting documents and other evidence, with examples and suggestions, which they must include with their PART I filing for the fiance visa. Their Attorney tells them they cannot “just send in a group of forms”; but that Jim, Lola and their Attorney must assemble a complete package of forms, documents and other evidence clearly demonstrating, under all USCIS rules and regulations, that their upcoming marriage will be a legitimate one, not one just for immigration purposes, and that they otherwise fully qualify for their fiance visa. Past criminal charges, illnesses, financial issues, or other potential “red flags” for either Jim or Lola have been discussed with the Attorney and addressed before this first filing. Some of these red flags might be serious enough to require supplemental filings under the IMBRA laws or other statutes or regulations, so be sure to make your attorney aware of the possibility at the initial consultation. Each case is different and we want to give it the full consideration it requires and deserves.
- Jim and Lola’s Attorney carefully reviews all forms, documents and evidence to make sure they are complete, accurate and meet all of the USCIS’s current requirements. Only when their Attorney fully approves all filings are they submitted to the USCIS for processing and initial USCIS approval. Our clients receive the PART I USCIS Approval of their fiance visa petition in about 5-6 months from initial filing, in most cases.
- If Jim and Lola had not filed a complete and accurate initial package they may have received a request for further evidence (RFE), or even a denial, each of which may require delay of at least 1-2 months or even a complete restart It is our job to make sure this does not happen, but if for unexpected reasons it does, we will, of course, help Jim and Lola with that too.
- Jim, Lola and their Attorney now move on to PART II of the process
- Your approved file will then be sent to the US State Department who will ask you to complete several additional forms; some electronically and some hard copy. It is good to note that, since we are now under the jurisdiction of the US Department of State (and not the USCIS), your case will be assigned a new case number to use from here forward . We will help you complete these forms.
- Thereafter, the US State Department will send your file to the Consulate or Embassy in your fiance’s country for further processing. In this example, Lola will then receive notice to provide some further information, pay some incidental fees, obtain a medical examination, and appear for an interview at the US Embassy in the Philippines. We will assist her with this process. As to the interview, Amerilawgroup has written a booklet which we have found very helpful in preparing for the interview. This booklet has information not found in USCIS publications and is based on our Attorney’s years of experience. Jim and Lola will go over the booklet together and if they have questions the Attorney will answer them; he can and will schedule a conference call with Jim and Lola as “interview preparation”, if needed.
- As part of the preparation of documents and forms Lola will be required to bring to the interview is Jim’s Financial Affidavit (form I-134) and its supporting documents. Here Jim must prove his ability to support Lola when she gets here. This “proof” depends on many factors such as Jim’s household size, gross income, etc. Even with very low or no income there are various ways to meet this requirement of “ability to support”. We will help Jim prepare his financial affidavit and documents for Lola to take to the interview. Note: these documents can be sent privately, directly, to the Embassy/Consulate, if desired.
- Lola, being fully prepared and comfortable, will “pass” her interview and receive her fiance visa at that time or within 2 weeks after the interview. If the Embassy/Consulate has any further questions which cannot be answered by Lola at the interview, we will help her answer them. Note: while Jim may want to be at the Embassy/Consulate at the time of the interview to show support, it is not necessary, and he will not be allowed into the interview room. Lola can, however, bring a friend or other person versed in both English and her language as “interpreter”, if needed.
- LOLA NOW COMES TO THE US! She will be using her new K-1 fiance visa. Within 90 days of arriving in the US Lola and Jim must do two things: first legally marry, and second, apply for Lola’s green card (Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR)). Thereafter, through a process known as Adjustment of Status, Lola’s status is changed from a K-1 fiance visa holder to a Lawful Permanent resident of the US. While the Adjustment of Status is a process separate from obtaining a K-1 fiance visa; Amerilawgroup is very experienced in this process and would be happy to help you with all aspects of it when the time comes. See Adjustment of Status / green cards on this site for further details.
Note: a K-1 fiance visa is good for only one entry into the US and it expires 90 days from the time Lola initially enters the US. Both Lola’s marriage to Jim and her application for her green card, in that order, must occur within 90 days of her arrival in the US. Further Note: a fiance visa, once issued by an Embassy or Consulate, but before Lola leaves her country for the US, generally can be used any time within 6 months from the date of its issuance to Lola; in fact there are ways to extend this 6 months for another 6 months, or even more. If this is a consideration for you ask us how in your initial consultation as we must plan for these extensions in advance.Here are some other factors which often come up in the fiance visa process
- How about children and the fiance visa?
- As an example:
- Let’s suppose Lola has a child, Marie, from a former marriage. Marie is not married and is under 21 years of age. Note: If Lola was ever married before she must be legally divorced, with a final order of dissolution or divorce entered as final, by a court or other legal entity with authority to do so, before a Petition for a fiance visa may be filed by Jim and the process started to obtain Lola’s visa.
- In this example Marie is under 21 years of age and may be included in Lola’s fiance visa petition as a child who derives her eligibility ( known as “derivative eligibility”) from Lola.
- CAUTION: if Marie might reach her 21st birthday before being approved (not just filed) for a permanent residency / green card then Marie may “Age Out” and no longer be eligible for derivative eligibility status or Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR); with long delays involved for Marie. Be sure to check with your Amerilawgroup Attorney regarding this situation in your initial consultation as some special actions must be taken Immediately.
- Note: there are some provisions of another act of the US Congress called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) which may allow a petition for a child over 21 years of age. Ask your Attorney about this, if applicable.
- Let’s also suppose Lola’s divorce order allows her to take Marie out of their country without further orders or permissions from the court. Note: if the divorce order does not say anything about Marie leaving the country Lola may have to obtain written permission from Marie’s natural father for Marie to accompany Lola, now or to follow on later. There are also some exceptions when Marie’s birth certificate does not state the father’s name or other variables effecting Marie’s ability to immigrate with Lola; be sure to ask about this situation in your initial Attorney consultation if it applies to you.
- Now, suppose there are no problems with Marie leaving the country with Lola who wishes to bring Marie with her and both to become a Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) with green cards. In this case Marie with be issued a K-2 visa to use to enter the US at the same time that Lola receives her K-1 fiance visa. Because Lola is Marie’s natural mother, (and can prove it), in most cases the same rules apply to Marie as with Lola concerning extending the time for Marie to come with Lola, or even to follow on her K-2 visa later, after Lola herself leaves. This takes some pre-planning by the fiance and her Attorney, so be sure to make your Attorney aware of this at the start of the case.
- Note: Amerilawgroup advises and assists with a child obtaining a K-2 visa without additional legal fees and the USCIS will not require a separate document filing and or filing fees, for the K-2 visa, in most cases.
- Within 90 days of her arrival in the US Marie, like Lola, will have to apply for an Adjustment of her status to change her status from a K-2 visa holder (which is valid for one entry and a total of 90 days just like Lola’s). Assuming Lola has legally married Jim when Marie arrives in the US (either with Lola or thereafter as a “follow on” ) then the application for permanent residence (a green card) process for Marie is similar in most respects to the process for obtaining a green card and LPR status for Lola.
IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act)
- What is IMBRA and how could it effect my fiance visa? IMBRA is a law passed by the US Congress instructing the USCIS to take certain actions in fiance visa applications (I-129F) in certain specific fact situations. While a long and involved act, for our purposes here we will discuss the two most common areas of interest to fiance visa applicants. They are #1: the situation wherein the Sponsor of the fiance (in our examples “Jim”) has filed other fiance visa petitions in the past or, #2: when the Sponsor (again by example, “Jim”) has a prior criminal record. The question to be asked in either #1 or #2 is do the IMBRA provisions apply to Jim’s Petition for Lola, and does Jim, in addition to all other filings and requirements, have to file for a waiver of the proscriptions of IMBRA which basically say that without a waiver by the USCIS Jim cannot Petition for a fiance visa for Lola.
- #1: Can Jim file more than one fiance visa Petition? The answer (as it often the case in law) is yes and no. There are various rules to be applied in this “Multiple Filer” situation. The answer depends on how many total petitions Jim has filed in the past, what happened to his petitions (rejected, approved, denied, etc.) and in what part of the overall process this occurred. Make sure your Attorney is aware of any facts or past actions which might require filing for a waiver of the IMBRA provision for Jim. If needed and not properly filed, Jim’s petition is likely to be denied at some time in the overall process wasting a significant amount of time and money.
- #2: Can Jim file a petition for Lola’s fiance visa if he has a criminal record? Here again, yes and no. The USCIS maintains a long list of potential disqualifying criminal offenses for use in this type case. If Jim has been arrested or convicted of any one of them he is disqualified from filing for Lola without obtaining an IMBRA waiver at the time of his initial petition for her. This is true whether Jim’s arrest or conviction is very old, the case was later dismissed, Jim has had his record cleared, or a previous attorney, judge or court has said he does not have to disclose it…he does and the USCIS will know of it, guaranteed! The USCIS computer system Will bring out these previous charges and Jim will have to answer them in his application for waiver. IMBRA is designed to protect women, and especially children, from unscrupulous persons who may attempt to take advantage of them using the fiance visa process.
- The charges which require an IMBRA waiver range from Murder, Rape and Child Molestation and or spousal abuse to multiple convictions for substance abuse (drugs or alcohol/drunk driving, etc.). These situations must be handled with particular care so advise your Attorney if you have any such issues in your past. We will discuss with “Jim”, in complete privacy and confidence, the facts and what we should do about it.
- Note: While the title of the IMBRA legislation includes “Marriage Broker” this does not generally include internet communications, and even paid internet sites offering match making services are not usually a problem.
The Attorneys at Amerilawgroup look forward to answering your fiance visa questions and assisting you with your visa and other immigration matters.