What visa options will help you come to the United States to visit your loved one?
The following options are available for foreigners wishing to come to the United States to visit their fiancé or fiancé:
Non-immigrant visa (visitor, student or business visa) – Unfortunately, many young unmarried women who want to go to visit their romantic friends in the US are often denied visas by US consulates. When applying for a non-immigrant visa, it is very important to show that your visit will be temporary, after which you will return home. Applicants need to demonstrate strong family ties (having a child staying at home is not considered sufficient evidence), social ties, employment, financial means, past travel experience to Western countries, and a compelling and legitimate reason for travel. In obtaining these visas, many use far-fetched excuses, and when the deception is uncovered, may find themselves deported and then banned from entering the United States.
Immigrant visa – It is also possible to get married outside of the US – at home or in a third country. This approach has its advantages and disadvantages:
After arriving in the United States there is no need to change visa status. He or she arrives as a full immigrant (conditional or permanent resident, depending on the date of arrival after the marriage). You do not need to obtain authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Services to leave the United States or to work in the United States (as is required when the wife is in the process of adjusting her visa status to the United States after marriage). U.S. citizenship can also be obtained more quickly without the change of status step.
Getting married imposes legal and financial obligations, and with a fiancée visa, it is not really necessary to get married. A fiancée visa can serve simply to get to know each other better (although at the time of applying for the visa there must be an intention specifically to marry). The visa gives 90 days to decide whether to marry or leave the United States. Visa processing times for brides are usually much shorter. Marriage in many countries requires a waiting period of at least 30 days, with some exceptions. All legal documentation must be done according to the requirements of the country where the marriage is being performed. Also, if the bride has a child who is at least 18 years old, he is no longer considered a child for immigration purposes.
For the purposes of this visa, a marriage is required prior to filing a petition. It was originally designed to expedite the arrival of the spouse/children in the U.S. without the long wait for an immigrant visa. However, the INS routinely processes I-130 petitions for immediate relatives and I-129 petitions for K-3 visas in about the same amount of time, and the K-3 visa no longer works. Foreign spouses must seek immigration visas.
As a rule, the most suitable visa is a K-1 visa for a bride.
Who qualifies for a K-1 fiancée visa?
A U.S. citizen may petition for his or her foreign fiancée. Both must be free to marry and must intend to marry within 90 days of the bride’s arrival in the United States. In addition, it is required that the couple have seen each other at least once within the last two years prior to the application (although this requirement may be omitted in some unusual circumstances).
If the bride has children.
A minor child of the bride (unmarried and under 21 years of age) is automatically eligible for a K-2 visa. If required by the foreign country, the U.S. government may (with some exceptions) request the consent of the child’s father. This can be quite frustrating and is best taken into consideration before the process begins.
What documentation is required?
You need civil status documents (birth certificates, divorce decrees, etc.), biographical information, and proof of the legality of your intentions. Once you have prepared this package, you must complete the relevant Citizenship and Immigration Service forms and submit them along with your supporting documentation to the relevant Citizenship and Immigration Service service desk.
The CIC will either approve the petition and notify the relevant U.S. Embassy or ask for more information. Naturally, it is better to do without such requests, as they take extra time. Upon receipt of the notification, the embassy will invite the bride to an interview. You will need to prepare another package of forms and related documentation. The sponsor in the U.S. is required to demonstrate sufficient annual income or the availability of substantial funds and present documents to substantiate this (tax returns, bank statements, employer’s certification). The bride must undergo a medical examination at a clinic authorized for that purpose. The examination includes testing for serious illnesses such as tuberculosis, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and a pregnancy test.
How is the interview done?
The interview takes place in the Immigration Visa Section of the US Embassy. The interview itself does not usually take long, no more than 5-10 minutes. However, if there are serious problems (for example, the bride has spent a long time in the US or the embassy has received a complaint against her from her ex-husband or lover), the interview can last as long as an hour. Visas are usually issued five business days after the interview. Once she receives her visa, the bride can travel to the U.S. at any time during the next six months.
What else do I need to know?
The bride enters the United States in non-immigrant status. The marriage must take place within 90 days of arrival and this period may not be extended. After the marriage, a petition is filed with the INS to change her status to conditional permanent residency. If the wife wants to leave the U.S. or begins working before she successfully completes the change of status interview, she will need permission from Citizenship and Immigration Services to do so. After filing the petition for a change of status, you must appear for an interview at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in your home area to verify the authenticity of the marriage (living together, joint bank account, joint ownership of property, photographs, bills). After successfully passing the interview, the wife becomes a conditional permanent resident of the US (the Green Card arrives in the mail after a few months). If the marriage does not break up, the conditional status is removed after two years of immigration status. If the marriage ended before that time, the spouse must prove that the marriage was not a sham or meet the requirements for a Special Exception in order to obtain a permanent green card.
What are the problems associated with obtaining a K-1 visa?
There are many problems and difficulties with the K-1 visa:
Overzealous consular officers question the legitimacy of the relationship and send the approved petition back for revocation. This often happens when there is a significant age difference between the future spouses, when the bride does not speak English well and the US citizen does not know her language, or if they have spent too little time together;
If the U.S. citizen has already petitioned for a K-1 visa in the past;
If the U.S. citizen has had run-ins with the law;
Obtaining the ex-husband’s consent for the immigration of a minor child;
If a jealous ex-lover writes an anonymous letter of complaint to the U.S. Embassy to prevent her from moving to the U.S;
If the future spouses met through an international marriage agency – additional information is required;
If the future spouses have not met in person in the past two years – a special exception should be sought.
How can White & Associates help?
White & Associates has been able to help many foreign brides immigrate to the United States – from the K-1 visa process to the naturalization process itself. We have helped with a host of problematic issues: obtaining consent from an ex-spouse, requesting a special exception to the face-to-face requirement, resolving an anonymous situation, preparing an application for entry clearance (when the bride has a history of visa violations or problems with the law), and providing legal advice on issues such as financial responsibility (for example, if the US citizen has no income, but has funds). While the process itself is usually not very complicated, improper documentation can lead to significant delays. Sometimes counselling is needed to help the bride not to worry – after all, she is moving to a foreign country and needs to understand her rights and responsibilities in relation to it. She may need help preparing for her visa interview: what questions to expect, what documents to bring, etc. We can provide advice or full representation, including K-1 visas, change of status and removal of conditionalities.