International Dating – What is the Advantage of a K-1 Fiance Visa?

With economic globalization and social networking in full effect, dating has spilled across national borders over the past decade. An increase in multinational and multicultural relationships is on the rise and working for many folks. How does one bring a loved one to the US?  One option is a fiance (K-1) visa.

A K-1 fiance visa is a temporary visa that requires a US citizen to sponsor a foreign national person so that the couple can marry in the US. Only US citizens are eligible to sponsor, but anyone can benefit from this type of visa.

The legal requirements are that the couple is eligible to marry (meaning no divorces pending or marriages valid with other persons), the couple has intent to marry (must marry within 90 days of entry), and the couple has personally met within 2 years of filing a petition. In addition, background checks will be conducted on both the US citizen sponsor and the foreign national. Serious criminal offenses by the US citizen may require a waiver to proceed.

The process is a two-step procedure. First, a petition is filed by the US citizen in the United States with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Current processing times for the petition (form I-129F) can be found on USCIS’ website, but typically between 3-6 months is fairly standard. Second, the foreign national must obtain a visa in his or her home country which includes an interview and other screens such as a medical exam and proof the person will have financial support once living in the US.

An advantage to a K-1 fiance visa is that you do not need to be and should no be legally married to be eligible to file. This may be helpful for couples who live very far apart and cannot physically meet to get married abroad and may move the process of getting your loved one here faster.

Some disadvantages of a fiance visa is that the relationship is more subject to scrutiny because in fact the couple must prove intent to be together – a futuristic prospect, as opposed to those who are already married. Also, once in the US, the foreign national must still become a permanent resident, which can be time consuming and costly. If credibility and/or finances is an issue, you may want to consider doing the regular permanent resident process after you marry the foreign national first.

Legal advice and consul may be advantageous to assist couples with determining the appropriate legal option, obtaining the appropriate evidence, forms and fees and ensuring the process is done correctly the first time around.

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