The K-1 visa is an immigration document that lets a fiancé of a U.S. citizen come to the United States to marry. Specifically, this visa is for only those instances where the fiancé arrives in the U.S. to get married and then very soon after apply for a Green Card to live in the U.S. permanently.
Steps for Application
The steps for applying for the visa are relatively simple. The process is as follows:
- Apply for the visa.
- Visa is granted.
- Fiancé enters the U.S.
- Fiancé and U.S. citizen are married.
- Fiancé applies for permanent residency (Green Card).
It is important to remember that the K-1 visa is only valid for 90 days and is only available so that the couple can get married before a Green Card is applied for or issued.
The eligibility requirements for the K-1 visa are both very strict and specific. They are as follows:
- The fiancé living in the United States has to be a citizen. This person is termed the ‘petitioner’ in official government documentation. The fiancé immigrating to the U.S. is called the beneficiary.
- The couple has to show that they intend to get married within 90 days of the beneficiary’s arrival in the U.S.
- The marriage has to be valid. This means that both the petitioner and the beneficiary are allowed to get married, they don’t have any previous, unresolved marriages and so forth.
- There is a special requirement that states that the couple has to have met at least once in the two years previous to filing for the K-1 visa. However, there are two exceptions:
- If this requirement somehow contradicts the couple’s cultural mores about marriage, or
- If the couple can show that a meeting “would result in extreme hardship”. The definition of extreme hardship is ultimately up to the USCIS to decide and it may be a good idea to use a lawyer to put together a case for this exception.
After the wedding, the beneficiary fiancé should apply for a Green Card to begin living in the United States Permanently.