USA fiancee visa: what an applicant needs to know
If you are going to marry a U.S. citizen, a special visa is required.
The US fiance visa itself is temporary, not an immigration one. However, it can be easily converted to a Green Card after the groom/bride arrives in the United States. That is, the visa K-1 and K-2 - is a preliminary step to obtaining a Green Card through marriage.
The number of visas and green cards for spouses is unlimited, as is the case with most other ways to immigrate.
Types of US fiancee visas
As a rule, engaged international couples are faced with the question: which way to choose, based on waiting time and location. There are 3 options:
- Come to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa (tourist, student, or worker), get married and apply for a Green Card. The spouse (a citizen or Green Card holder) must file a petition for Alien Relative ( Form I-130 ). It takes at least 9 months from filing documents to receiving the Green Card. It is important to submit documents to change your immigration status not earlier than 90 days after the marriage!
This method has a serious disadvantage. Migration services consider such situations as giving knowingly false information about the purpose of entry. If you dissolve your marriage, you risk being blacklisted, which will block you from entering the United States. It is therefore advisable to use other ways.
- Get a K-1 fiance visa, come to the United States, get married. This visa is suitable only for marriage to a U.S. citizen, not to a Green Card holder. Usually it takes 7-9 months to get a visa. After marriage and applying for a green card, it is about 9-10 months before the interview.
- To get married in the spouse's home country or in a third country. The foreigner waits for their K-3 (spouse) visa in the home country, enters the United States with a work permit, and receives a green card. You will need to wait 7 months before approving the petition, and another 2 months for the visa interview. After you enter the U.S., it is at least 9 months before the Green Card interview. A financial guarantee from a U.S. citizen is not necessary, but you must show that you can financially support yourself. You can only apply for a K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place.
Let us tell you more about the process of obtaining the most popular US marriage visa: K1 visa.
Who can get a K-1 visa?
The K-1 fiance visa is issued to foreign nationals wishing to marry American citizens. Applicants who plan to obtain it are a subject to a number of requirements. The first requirement is that the future American spouse must be a U.S. citizen. Green Card holders cannot send out an invitation for a K-1 visa.
Secondly, both future spouses must provide evidence that they have been in touch and have seen each other in person for the previous two years. This will require proofs: letters, postcards, chats, photos, hotel reservations, checks. It is desirable that at the time of the interview the date of the wedding has already been chosen, the rings have been bought, a restaurant and a wedding dress have been ordered.
And the third (but not the last) important requirement: the wedding ceremony should take place not later than 90 days after the visa issuance.
The fiance's children (who are under 21 and unmarried) receive a K-2 visa if the marriage took place before the child's 18th birthday. They must be listed on Form I-129F and present at the interview. A child visa can also be obtained after the marriage, but not later than one year after receiving a K-1 visa.
List of documents for a US fiance K1 visa
Since two people are involved in marriage, you will need two sets of documents from both sides. In the first step, the most important is the petitioner's (U.S. citizen) documents.
So, the first set of documents includes:
- Completed petition form I-129F. It is filled in and signed by the inviting party only;.
- Evidence of personal meetings and communication over the past two years. The key to successful visa approval is to collect a good package of such documents. All documents in another language should be translated, photographs (15-20 pieces are enough) should be dated and signed;
- Evidence of US citizenship. It may be a copy of a birth certificate, a copy of a U.S. citizen's passport , a naturalization certificate or other similar documents;
- Letter of Intent to Marry within 90 days. Written in free form in English, in two copies (from the groom and the bride);
- Documents proving that there are no obstacles to the marriage. For example, if the applicant was previously married, a divorce certificate or a death certificate of the former spouse, in case of widowhood, is required;
- Petition fee of 535 dollars;
- 2 passport-sized photos of the U.S. applicant
- Form G-1145. With this document the applicant will receive notifications about the status of their case.
Once the petition is accepted for consideration, you and your prospective spouse receive a Notice of Action 1 with the number assigned to your case. From this point on, you will have to wait for approval. When this happens, you will receive a second notice (Notification of Action 2).Your documents will then be sent to the National Visa Application Center (NVC). Next, the foreign fiance needs to prepare a second set of documents for the visa interview:
- Documents confirming personal contacts and communication with the fiance who filed a petition. As in the previous set, anything that reliably and clearly demonstrates that you have been in touch and have seen each other over the past two years will do.
- Financial documents of the U.S. groom/bride. This includes form I-134 (Affidavit of Support), wage and tax statements, bank statements, employment certificate and/or other documents confirming that the income of the petitioner is more or equal to 125% of the minimum subsistence level established in their state of residence;
- Medical examination certificate. The cost of this service varies from $195 to $225 (depending on the age of applicants). It is conducted only in certified medical centers. If you have minor children that you are taking with you, they must undergo a medical examination as well;
- Documents proving that there are no obstacles to the marriage. As well as for the U.S. side, you need to provide a divorce or death certificate for your former spouse if you were previously married;
- Birth certificates of minor children;
- Criminal record certificate;
- Military service record (required for men and women liable for military duty);
- Visa fee of $265;
- Printed confirmation of interview appointment;
- 2 US visa photos.
After a successful interview you will receive your passport with a K-1 visa inside, as well as a yellow envelope, which you are not allowed to open. You will need it later when you pass through U.S. border controls. Once you enter the United States, you have 90 days to get married. After the wedding you will have full rights to apply for a residence permit, i.e., the Green Card.
Obtaining U.S. Green Card after the marriage
After filing a petition for change of immigration status, you should attend the interview at the nearest USCIS. During the interview the authenticity of the marriage will be checked. Family photos, joint ownership documents, bills and checks can be used as evidence. After a successful interview, the spouse becomes a U.S. conditional permanent resident (the Green Card arrives by mail a few months later). If the marriage has not broken up, the conditional status is removed after two years from obtaining immigration status. If the marriage has been dissolved before that time, the spouse will have to prove that the marriage was not fictitious or meet the requirements of a special exception to obtain the permanent green card.
Note that the United States has strict penalties for a fake marriage. A citizen of the USA, who consciously got involved in the process, faces a real prison term up to 5 years and a monetary penalty up to $250 thousand. A person who got a green card by means of a fake marriage will be punished with an imprisonment from 3 months up to 1 year, and after it with a deportation from the country. Therefore you can move to the United States through marriage only if your intentions are sincere and you really plan to build a family.