What visa options will help you come to the United States to visit your loved one?
The following options are available for foreigners wishing to come to the United States to visit their fiancé or fiancé:
Non-immigrant visa (visitor, student or business visa) – Unfortunately, many young unmarried women who want to go to visit their romantic friends in the United States are often denied visas by American consulates. When applying for a non-immigrant visa, it is very important to show that your visit will be temporary, after which you will return home. Applicants need to demonstrate strong family ties (having a child stay at home is not considered sufficient evidence), social ties, employment, financial resources, past travel experience to Western countries, and a compelling and legitimate reason for travel. Many people use far-fetched excuses to obtain such visas, and when the deception is discovered, may find themselves deported and then banned from entering the United States.
Immigrant visa – You can also get married outside of the United States – in your home country or in a third country. This approach has its advantages and disadvantages:
Once he or she arrives in the United States, there is no need to change visa status. He or she arrives as a full immigrant (conditional or permanent resident, depending on the date of arrival after the marriage). He or she does not need permission from Citizenship and Immigration Services to leave the United States or to work in the United States (as is required in cases where the wife came to the United States on a fiancée visa and is in the process of changing her visa status in the United States after marriage). U.S. citizenship can also be obtained more quickly without the change of status step.
Getting married imposes legal and financial obligations, and with a fiancée visa, you don’t actually have to get married. A fiancée visa can serve simply to get to know each other better (although there must be an intent to marry at the time of the visa application). The visa gives 90 days to decide whether to marry or leave the United States. Visa processing times for brides are usually much shorter. Many countries require a waiting period of at least 30 days to get married, with some exceptions. All legal documentation must be done according to the requirements of the country where the marriage is to take place. Also, if the bride has a child who is at least 18 years old, the child is no longer considered a child for immigration purposes.
This visa requires a marriage before the petition is filed. It was originally designed to expedite the arrival of the spouse/children in the United States without the long wait for an immigrant visa. However, the INS routinely processes I-130 petitions for immediate relatives and I-129 petitions for K-3 visas in about the same amount of time, and the K-3 visa no longer works. Foreign spouses should seek immigrant visas.
Generally, the most appropriate visa is the K-1 visa for the bride.
Who qualifies for a K-1 visa for bride?
A U.S. citizen can petition for his or her foreign bride. Both must be free to marry and must intend to marry within 90 days of the bride’s arrival in the United States. In addition, it is required that the couple have seen each other at least once in the last two years before applying (although this requirement may be omitted in some unusual circumstances).
If the bride has children.
The minor child of the bride (unmarried and under 21 years of age) is automatically eligible for a K-2 visa. If required by the foreign country, the U.S. government may (with some exceptions) request the consent of the child’s father. This can be quite frustrating and is best taken into consideration before the process begins.
What documents are required?
You need civil status documents (birth certificates, divorce decrees, etc.), biographical information, and proof of the legality of your intentions. After preparing this package, you need to fill out the appropriate Citizenship and Immigration Service forms and submit them, along with the accompanying documentation, to the appropriate Citizenship and Immigration Service service center.
What happens next?
The Citizenship and Immigration Services center will either approve the petition and notify the appropriate U.S. Embassy, or request additional information. Naturally, it is better to do without such requests, as they take extra time. After receiving the notification, the embassy will invite the bride to an interview. You will need to prepare another package of forms and related documentation. The sponsor in the U.S. is required to demonstrate sufficient annual income or the availability of substantial funds and present documents proving this (tax returns, bank statements, certificate of employer). The bride must undergo a medical examination at an authorized clinic. The examination includes testing for serious illnesses, such as tuberculosis, cancer, venereal diseases, and a pregnancy test.
How does the interview take place?
The interview takes place in the Immigration Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy. The interview itself usually does not take long, no more than 5-10 minutes. However, if there are serious problems (for example, the bride has spent a long time in the U.S., or the Embassy has received a complaint from her ex-husband or lover), the interview can last as long as an hour. Visas are usually issued five business days after the interview. Once the bride receives her visa, she can travel to the U.S. at any time during the next six months.
What else do I need to know?
The bride enters the United States in non-immigrant status. The marriage must take place within 90 days of arrival, and no extensions are allowed. After the marriage, a petition is filed with the INS to change status to conditional permanent residency. If the wife wants to leave the U.S. or begin working before she successfully completes the change of status interview, permission from Citizenship and Immigration Services is required to do so. After filing the petition for adjustment of status, you must appear for an interview at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in your home area to verify the authenticity of the marriage (living together, joint bank account, joint ownership of property, photographs, bills). After successfully completing the interview, the wife becomes a conditional permanent resident of the U.S. (Green Card arrives in the mail a few months later). If the marriage has not broken up, the conditional status is removed after two years from the date of immigration status. If the marriage has dissolved before that time, the spouse must either prove that the marriage was not a sham or meet the requirements of the Special Exception in order to obtain a permanent green card.
What are the problems associated with a K-1 visa?
There are many problems and difficulties with the K-1 visa:
- Overzealous consular officers question the legitimacy of the relationship and send the approved petition back for revocation. This often happens when there is a significant age difference between the future spouses, when the bride does not speak English well and the U.S. citizen does not know her language, or if they have spent too little time together;
- If the U.S. citizen has already petitioned for a K-1 visa in the past;
- If the U.S. citizen has had run-ins with the law;
- Obtaining the ex-husband’s consent for the immigration of a minor child;
- If a jealous ex-lover writes an anonymous complaint to the Embassy to prevent her from moving to the United States;
- If the future spouses met through an international marriage agency – additional information is required;
- If the future spouses have not met in person in the past two years – a special exception must be sought.