A look at the process behind the K-1 Fiance(e) Visa for the US.
Marriage has been a part of culture for as long as people have been around. It is defined as a legal contract, or social union, between people that forms a kind of kinship. An institution of sorts, based on the most intimate of interpersonal relationships. Though acknowledged in many ways in many cultures, it is typically formalized by a wedding ceremony. So it goes, people marry for various reasons, yet it is a declaration of a couple’s commitment to each other.
Simple enough, right? However, what happens if the couple are of different nationalities? All the planning involved with marriage may then incorporate all sorts of immigration obstacles.
Marriage with a Non-American
So, you’ve found the love of your life. You want to settle down, marry and enjoy the rest of your lives. To initiate that, it’ll start with the marriage proposal. But what if one person is American and the other is not? Along with all other wedding planning, you will have to include application for the K1 visa.
K1, or Fiancé(e) Visa
The K1 visa, or the fiancé/fiancée visa, is a “dual intent” visa. This is a US immigration law concept. Simply put, it allows foreigners to temporarily enter the US with immigrant intent. Upon completion of certain terms and conditions the individual is then given permanent resident status. This is not the same as a green card, but will lead on onto such in due course.
Process of Application
Once decided to marry, the couple must start the process with the I-129F form. This form is filled out by the American within the couple. This is a petitioning process, to which states the American citizen is sponsoring their non-American fiancé(e) for the visa.
You may have seen media coverage of “sham weddings”. These are when foreigners set-up a “marriage” to a native citizen, just for legal residency, or even citizenship. In the process for the K-1 visa, the couple would need to provide proof of the relationship. Imagine being the defendant in court. But you are given evidence that you are in love.
This is just the first half of the process. Once this is approved, the application is sent to the relevant embassy, via the National Visa Centre of the State Department. From here, the non-American will then have to provide a police check. This may take anywhere from two weeks to a month to obtain, depending on the country involved.
The embassy will only proceed if that the applicant has a clean record. After which, there is the medical examination. This can only be done by an American Immigration approved physician. The exam involves a chest x-ray, immunization history and a blood test for STI’s, TB and any terminal illness.
This takes about 5-7 working days to get to the embassy. Then you can have an interview, which is when your visa can be approved, or not. Once it is, the non-American fiancé(e) has six months to fly to America. Once the non-American sets foot on American soil, they have 90 days to marry, or face deportation.
Upon marriage, the non-American gets permanent resident status and a social security number. After 2 years, the non-American gets the green card. They can also choose to apply for US citizenship. But, if the couple happen to divorce in the first two years, then the non-American is deported.
If this is the case for you, be prepared to have the patience of a saint. Is it worth it? Dam right it is.