by Liset Lefebvre
What happens when you travel across the globe and meet the love of your life? In some cases, distance, time, money and a daunting legal process can prevent you from quickly reuniting with your loved one. Luckily, U.S. immigration law allows U.S. citizens to petition for their fiancé(e) through the K-1 visa process. It is a two-step process: (1) file the petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and (2) apply for the visa abroad.
A U.S. citizen must file a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, and demonstrate the following requirements:
- Petitioner intends in good faith to marry the foreign fiancé(e) within 90 days of admission into the United States,
- Both parties are free to marry (no legal impediment to marry),
- Provide evidence that the couple has met in person within 2 years of filing Form I-129F (some exceptions apply),
- Demonstrate they have a bona fide romantic relationship;
- Prove the foreign fiancé is otherwise admissible to the United States; and
- Confirm the U.S. Citizen petitioner does not have a criminal record that impedes petitioning for their foreign fiancé(e).
USCIS vigorously screens K-1 visa applicants to prevent marriage fraud, secure the well-being of a foreign fiancé(e) as well as protect our country from inadmissible foreigners. The U.S. petitioner and foreign fiancé(e) have the burden to prove they intend to enter into this marriage for bona fide reasons and not to circumvent U.S. immigration law. The following is the type of evidence we recommend couple’s submit with their petition:
- Statement of Relationship (by Petitioner and foreign fiancé(e))
- Communication Records (telephone, email, social media, etc., records)
- Flight itineraries, hotel invoices, and passport entry and exist stamps of visits
- Engagement pictures
- Engagement ring proof of purchase and/or
- Wedding preparation plans and/or executed contracts
Once USCIS approves Form I-29F, the petition is valid for four months. The process does not end here. USCIS transfers the petition to the National Visa Center, which then is assigned to a consular post to process the K-1 visa. The foreign fiancée must now apply for her visa and satisfy several requirements prior to attending her K-1 interview such as: obtain a medical exam, police certificate(s), make payment through bank slips in some cases, and submit evidence of financial support. Depending on the consular post, the K-1 visa process can be complex and intimidating. We recommend seeking the assistance of a seasoned immigration attorney to help you navigate through the visa of love immigration channels and ensure your process does not linger and put a strain on your long-distance relationship.