Most people, even those who have never had any dealings with immigration directly, know one of the quickest ways to become an American citizen is through marriage. Any foreign national who marries a United States citizen, either inside the country or back in his or her home region, is eligible to apply for a green card once the ceremony has been legally confirmed. After the application is received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and approved, they are granted permanent status as a United States citizen. Of course, there are varying details per couple and restrictions depending on where you may be coming from or previous history, but, in general, that is one of the fastest paths to U.S. citizenship.
But what happens when you are not married to your fiancé yet, but wish for him or her to enter the country? Are there any options for those couples currently living abroad that wish to marry in the United States? The answer lies in a Form I-129F, otherwise known as a Petition for Alien Fiancé, or a K-1 Non-Immigrant Visa. In essence, a K-1 visa grants foreign nationals a limited window in which to come to the United States and marry their loved one, thereby giving them the ability to apply for permanent status or a Form I-485, green card.
However, there are a number of items that must be made clear before a U.S. Citizen can petition a K-1 visa for their fiancé. Those items include:
- The petitioner is in fact a United States citizen.
- The couple will be married within 90 days of entering the country.
- Both individuals entering the marriage are free to do so and any previous engagements must have been legally ended through divorce, death, or annulment.
- The couple petitioning the visa must have met within two years of filing the petition.
- Same sex couples must marry in a state or country where same sex marriages are recognized in order to qualify for immigration purposes.
Of course there are exceptions and additional methods in which to enter the country legally, but we highly recommend speaking with a dedicated immigration law attorney before attempting to file on your own. Call Attorney Scott McVarish today for more information or to schedule an appointment at the Immigration Law Office of Los Angeles, P.C.