Fiancee K-1 visa made simple

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By Atty. Johnson Lazaro

Approval of a fiancée visa is never a slam dunk.  Like a romantic relationship, a fiancée visa application deserves great care and nurture.  Many things can go wrong from filing, to the adjudication and ultimately to the visa interview.  One must not assume that a loving relationship is enough to get an approval.  A plethora of issues can harm an otherwise approvable fiancée visa petition.

A K-1 fiancée visa application permits a U.S. citizen to file a petition for a loved one abroad.  Upon approval, the fiancée may enter the U.S. for a 90-day period to marry the U.S. petitioner and apply for permanent residence.

One basic requirement is that the couple must have previously met within two years of the date of filing the petition, unless a waiver is granted.  They must have a bona fide intention to marry; and are legally able and actually willing to conclude a valid marriage in the U.S. within 90 days after the fiancée’s arrival.

If they do not marry within 90 days, the fiancée (and any dependents) will be required to depart and failure to depart may cause her to be deported or removed from the U.S. This is a key requirement which many fail to meet.  We get several calls a month from fiancées who never become spouses.  They either hook up with someone else or simply refuse to marry the U.S. petitioner.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) takes a very firm stance on those who fail to marry the U.S. petitioner.  Violation of this requirement leaves the applicant with very few options.

The fiancée application begins with the filing at the appropriate Immigration Service Center in the U.S.  The package must include several key supporting documents including photos, affidavits, biographical data, proof of termination of prior marriages, proof that the relationship is genuine, and proof of prior meeting within the required two years.

Upon approval, the Immigration Service sends the application to the appropriate foreign Embassy. Our office handles fiancée applications from Manila, Pakistan, China, Mexico, and most European countries.  The Embassy or the U.S. Consul will then instruct the applicant to take the necessary steps to obtain a visa.  The applicant will be required to obtain a valid passport, birth certificate, police clearance, medical examination record, and proof of financial resources.  She will also be required to complete certain visa forms.

Before the visa is issued, the consular officer will conduct an interview of the fiancée. Many questions need to be answered before the officer will issue the visa.   Is the relationship legitimate?  What are the intentions of the couple? Do they really know one another? Are there factual conflicts between the application and the testimony of the fiancée? Are there any grounds for inadmissibility or reasons to deny the visa? Will there be financial support for the incoming non-immigrant?

Sometimes when the consul sees that there are multiple petitions filed for the same fiancée, all actions are suspended until this is clarified.  When the consul sense that the fiancée does not really know the U.S. petitioner, again the interview is stopped until more information can be provided.  For instance, one of our clients met his fiancée through a “bride-finding” website. When the fiancée was interviewed, she was unable to provide important details about her U.S. fiancé.  The interview was halted and our office was called in to clarify.  The matter was resolved after our trip to Manila to consult with the consul.

To avoid a denial or other harmful effects, the fiancée K-1 visa petition must be carefully planned.  The couple must have a really good idea of what is required.  An attorney is not always needed but when the stakes are high, the intervention of legal counsel must be considered.  The fiancée visa application can go smoothly and the couple can live happily ever after in the U.S.

Johnson Lazaro has been practicing law for over 25 years. This article should not be taken as legal advice.  This is not meant to create a lawyer-client relationship. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email: law@lazarolaw.com

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