If you intend to marry a person who is not an American citizen and who is currently living abroad, and you intend to marry that person in the United States, you may need to obtain a visa simply to get that person inside the United States so that the wedding can occur. While your future spouse can of course apply for a green card (permanent resident card) after the marriage occurs, getting here in the U.S. for the purpose of the marriage can require obtaining a K-1 visa, also called a “fiance visa.”
The good news is that K-1 fiance visas are relatively easy to acquire in comparison to other visas, and can be obtained relatively quickly (generally 6-9 months of time from the date of application), but it will be important to do the process correctly so as to prevent mistakes which could delay your future wedding date.
Eligibility for a K-1 Visa
A K-1 visa will allow your fiancee to come to the United States for up to 90 days. During those 90 days, you should get married in the U.S. and begin the process of applying for a green card. Even before that time, however, a K-1 visa holder can immediately apply for permission to work in the U.S. once arriving here.
To be eligible for a K-1 visa, the person seeking to marry the non-citizen must be a U.S. citizen (green card holders are not eligible to bring fiances into the U.S. via the K-1 visa). Both parties must be legally able to marry, meaning both of age and not currently married to others. In addition, there must be a genuine intention to marry, and the parties must have seen each other in person at least once in the last two years, unless there are religious reasons for them not seeing each other.
A K-1 visa holder can also bring unmarried children under the age of 21 to the U.S. with a K-2 visa.
Working With an Attorney to Obtain Your Future Spouse’s K-1 Visa
With a K-1 visa, both the person seeking the visa and the person they are getting married to must take action to obtain the visa. The first step will be for the U.S. citizen to file a visa petition with the U.S. government. If this is approved, then the non-citizen will need to fill out a visa application as well. That person will also need to collect documents supporting their visa (i.e. documentation showing the genuine existence of the relationship and the plans to marry once in the U.S.) to a U.S. consulate office for an interview.
An experienced immigration attorney can help both parties with all steps of the K-1 (and K-2) visa process in taking care of all necessary documentation and legal processes in preparation for their big U.S. wedding day.
Contact the Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys at Gastelum Law
At the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, our attorneys have experience in all aspects of immigration, including obtaining visas, green cards, citizenship, and in avoiding deportation. With offices in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, we have the ability to work with clients from all backgrounds, and our professionals speak English, Spanish, Korean, Arabic, and Farsi. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC today to discuss your immigration matter.