Getting Married In The States With A K-1 Fiancé Visa

Getting Married In The States With A K-1 Fiancé Visa

Congrats on your engagement! If your partner is a US citizen and you want to get married in the United States, you probably have questions about the process.

The K-1 visa allows the fiancés of American citizens to enter the US and get married within 90 days. It’s the fastest option for couples who can’t or don’t want to get married before coming to the States.

What Exactly is a K-1 Fiancé Visa?

The K-1 visa is a temporary 90-day visa that allows the fiancé of an American citizen to enter the United States to get married. Once you arrive on the K-1, you must marry your spouse within 90 days – the visa can’t be extended if you don’t make the deadline.

After your wedding, you can apply to adjust your status and receive a two-year conditional green card. This allows you to live and work in the US while remaining married to your spouse. To get a 10-year green card, you’ll have to later apply to remove the conditions.

Do You Meet the Key K-1 Visa Requirements?

To qualify for a K-1 fiancé visa, you must meet a few baseline eligibility requirements:

You are engaged to a US citizen

Your fiancé must be an American citizen, not just a green card holder. They’ll be your visa sponsor and must petition for you.

You are legally eligible to marry

This means you are unmarried, of legal age, and not closely related to your fiancé. You’ll have to follow the marriage laws of the state where you plan to wed.

You’ve met your fiancé in person within the last two years

US immigration wants proof your relationship is real. Meet-ups can be brief – even a short vacation together can qualify.

You plan to marry in the US within 90 days of arrival

The K-1 is expressly for marrying quickly after entering the country. Make flexible wedding plans in case of delays.

Your fiancé meets income requirements

They’ll have to show they can financially support you at 125% above the US poverty line. Therefore, you may need to grow your business if you are heavily invested in it. However, as long as you meet these five requirements, you can move forward with the K-1 visa process. Let’s look at the step-by-step procedure and how long it takes.

The K-1 Visa Procedure from Start to Finish

Obtaining a K-1 visa involves multiple steps, forms, fees, and waiting periods. Here are the key phases:

  • Your fiancé files Form I-129F (6-12 months)

The first step is for your American partner to file a visa petition on your behalf using Form I-129F. This involves submitting:

  • Proof of your relationship and meeting in person
  • Evidence your fiancé meets the income requirements
  • Biographic information and immigration history

Over 75% of I-129F petitions get approved, but the process takes 6-12 months right now.

  • You file for a K-1 visa and attend an interview (1-3 months)

Once the I-129F is approved, it’s your turn to apply for the visa. You’ll fill out the DS-160 form and schedule a K-1 visa interview at your nearest US embassy. You’ll also need to complete a medical exam and gather supporting documents. The visa process usually takes 1-3 months.

  • You receive your K-1 visa (2-4 weeks)

If approved after the interview, your passport will be stamped with a K-1 visa within 2-4 weeks. You then have 6 months to enter the US and get married.

  • Marry within 90 days and apply for a green card

Once you arrive in the US, you and your fiancé must wed within 90 days. After tying the knot, you can apply to adjust your status and receive a conditional green card. The entire K-1 visa process takes around 8-16 months from start to finish. It’s a lengthy procedure, so make sure you’re prepared!

Getting a Green Card After Your K-1 Wedding

Marrying your fiancé within 90 days of entering the K-1 is just the first step. Pretty soon you could be looking for tips for running a business with your spouse. Here’s how to transition from a temporary visa holder to a conditional permanent resident with a green card:

  • Submit Form I-485 application

After your wedding, you must file Form I-485 to adjust your status to a conditional green card holder. This application will include:

  • Your marriage certificate as proof you wed
  • Biographic information and immigration history
  • Medical examination results
  • Proof of financial support
  • Attend your biometrics appointment

You’ll get a notice to visit an application support centre for fingerprints, photos, and a signature. This is part of the background check process.

  • Complete your adjustment of status interview

You and your spouse will be interviewed at your local USCIS office. They want to confirm details about your relationship and marriage.

  • Receive your two-year conditional green card

If approved, you’ll be issued a conditional green card valid for two years. You can live and work in the US but must wait to travel. The green card process after a K-1 marriage takes around 6-12 months in total.

Removing the Conditions and Getting a 10-Year Green Card

To upgrade your conditional green card to a permanent 10-year one, you’ll have to file Form I-751 within 90 days before your 2-year card expires.

This petition removes the conditions and proves your marriage is authentic. You’ll submit evidence like:

  • Financial statements showing your combined assets
  • Birth certificates of any children you’ve had
  • Photos and letters demonstrating your relationship

If approved, the conditions will be lifted and you’ll finally have a decade-long green card and a path to US citizenship.

What’s the Overall Timeline for a K-1 Visa and Green Card?

Between processing times and mandatory waiting periods, the K-1 visa timeline can be lengthy. Here are the approximate durations:

  • I-129F petition: 6-12 months
  • K-1 visa application: 1-3 months
  • Marry within 90 days
  • Green card after marriage: 6-12 months

The total timeline is around 15-24 months from start to finish. Delays or issues can make it take longer. Check USCIS processing times for updates. While long, this path is faster than alternatives like spousal visas which require marrying first. The K-1 lets you come sooner to wed stateside.

What if Your K-1 Visa Application Gets Denied?

Despite your best efforts, your K-1 application may get denied at some stage for reasons like insufficient evidence, changes in eligibility, or background check issues.

If this happens, here are some options:

  • File an appeal if your I-129F petition is denied
  • Reapply if your visa is denied and your situation improves
  • Request an administrative review if you believe an error occurred
  • Consult with an immigration lawyer about the next best steps

Having an experienced legal advisor in your corner is crucial if you face visa denial. Don’t lose hope – rejection isn’t necessarily the end if you have a strong case.

To Sum It All Up…

The K-1 fiancé visa provides a pathway for engaged couples to get married in the United States within 90 days. It involves a detailed application process, strict eligibility criteria, and waiting periods of around 12-16+ months. You’ll need to prove you have a genuine relationship and meet all the legal requirements.

Once you arrive and tie the knot, you can apply to adjust your status from a K-1 holder to a conditional green card recipient. After two years, and proving your marriage is real, you can remove the conditions and remain in the US.

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