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K-1 Fiancé Visaé Visa

When an individual is a fiancé of an American, is currently living abroad, and wishes to obtain a visa so they can come to the United States in order to get married, they are required to file for a special fiancé visa.

Once the individual marries their American fiancé, they can file for an adjustment of status in order to become a permanent resident and to obtain a green card.

When an individual obtains a fiancé visa, they are not required to permanently reside in the United States. They may choose whether or not they want to continue residing in the United States after they are married.

A fiancé visa, or a K-1 Visa, is granted to a foreign citizen who intends to marry an American citizen. It permits the individual to enter the United States.

It is important to note that a fiancé visa does not grant the individual legal permanent residency as a green card does. Instead, the fiancé visa grants the alien 6 months time to enter into the United States and 90 days to marry their American fiancé following their entry into the country.

The K-1 fiancé visa only permits entry one time, so once the individual has entered into the United States, they cannot leave and return using their K-1 fiancé visa.

Eligibility for a Fiancé Visa

An individual is eligible for a fiancé visa if they intend to marry a United States citizen whom they met within the last two years and is legally able to marry, in other words, is not currently married.

An individual seeking a fiancé visa must be able to prove these requirements with documentation. If the individual is an alien fiancé with children under the age of 21, their children may be eligible to immigrate to the United States as well.

Obtaining a K-1 Visa

In order to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa, the United States citizen is required to file a Petition for Alien Fiance, or USCIS Form I-129F. Once the petition has been approved and processed, it will be sent to the consulate or embassy in which the non-American fiancé is applying for their visa.

Once the petition is approved, the alien fiancé has 4 months to apply for their visa. In order to receive their visa, the alien fiancé must provide the following information to their embassy:

  • A passport which is valid for six months after intended entry into United States;
  • A birth certificate;
  • A police certificate from all locations where they have resided since the age of 16;
  • A medical examination;
  • Evidence of financial support;
  • Two Nonimmigrant Visa Applications, Form DS-156;
  • A Nonimmigrant Fiance Visa Application, Form DS-156K; and
  • Evidence of a fiancé relationship.

Applying for Permanent Residency Once Married

Once the alien fiancé is married, they are required to apply for a marriage visa which grants them permanent residency in the United States. The alien fiancé is required to file an Application to Register Permanent Residence USCIS Form I-485.

The American citizen is also required to file an Affidavit of Support, USCIS Form I-864. Once these are approved, the alien fiancé will be granted a conditional green card.

After 2 years have passed, the alien fiancé may then apply to remove the conditional status using Form I-751. The alien fiancé is required to have been married for 2 years or have been divorced from a good-faith marriage and demonstrate that their marriage was not entered into in order to evade immigration laws.

How Long to Obtain a Fiancé Visa?

It may take as long as 6 months to obtain a fiancé visa. It may also take another year following the individuals' marriage before the alien fiancé receives their permanent visa.

It is important to be aware that obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa is a long process which may take a long time to complete. This process contains multiple steps which include the United States citizen filing a petition with the USCIS for approval.

Following this application, the alien fiancé is required to provide additional documentation to their local United States embassy in their home country. The alien fiancé may also be required to attend a visa interview and a medical exam.

Fiance Visa Fraud

An individual commits fiancé visa fraud when they use deceit or misrepresentation as a means to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa. This type of fraud is surprisingly common because, in general, it takes less time to secure a K-1 visa as it does to secure other types of visas.

There are instances of individuals who are attempting to defraud the United States federal government with their marriage through marriage immigration. It is also common, however, for one party in the relationship to enter into the engagement to defraud the other party.

How Does Fiancé Visa Fraud Make it More Difficult to Obtain a Visa?

The instances of fiancé visa fraud make it more difficult for individuals to obtain their K-1 fiancé visas. This type of fraud occurs when an individual uses deceit or misrepresentation to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa. This type of fraud is fairly common because it takes less time to secure this type of visa than other types of visas.

It is also common for individuals to attempt to defraud the United States government through marriage immigration. It is also common for one party to the engagement to be defrauding the other, such as an alien fiancé using the U.S. citizen fiancé as a means to enter the country.

Because of these issues, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instituted measures to prevent individuals in a sham marriage from being issued a visa, and penalize those who are caught doing so.

Examples of fiancé visa fraud that are discovered by the USCIS may include:

  • An individual lying and providing false information on the visa application;
  • A fiancé showing staged photos or other fake evidence supporting a sham marriage; and
  • A witness falsely testifying on behalf of the couple and their relationship history.

If the USCIS has any suspicion that a couple is not being truthful in the K-1 visa process, it is highly likely the individuals will be investigated for fraud.

Common Examples of Fiancé Visa Fraud

Fiancé visa fraud may occur in a variety of ways. It may be as simple as an individual approaching an American tourist abroad and offering the money in exchange for a false relationship in order to deceive immigration authorities.

As a result of these issues, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has created and instituted measures to prevent individuals in a sham marriage from being issued visas as well as to penalize those individuals who are caught attempting to defraud immigration officials.

Common examples of fiancé visa fraud which are often discovered by the USCIS may include:

  • Lying and providing false information on their visa application;
  • Showing staged photos or other fake evidence to support a sham marriage; and
  • Having witnesses falsely testify on behalf of the couple and their relationship history.

Legal Penalties for Fiancé Visa Fraud

Yes, there may be legal penalties for engaging in fiancé visa fraud. Immigration laws place strict prohibitions on anyone from attempting to defraud the United States government.

If individuals are caught attempting to defraud the United States government, harsh penalties may follow. The possible penalties for immigration fraud may vary depending on the party.

For a non-United States citizen alien, they will likely be deported from the U.S. They may also be barred from re-entering the United States for a specified period of time.

A non-citizen alien may lose their chance at naturalization. They may also become ineligible for a change of immigration status.

For a United States citizen and any other party who participated in the fraud, they may be subject to criminal charges, fines, incarceration, and a combination of incarceration and fines. This may include any individual who participated in the attempt at defrauding the government, including false witnesses.

A couple may wish to consult with an immigration attorney prior to applying for a K-1 fiancé visa. An experienced immigration attorney can advise the couple regarding what evidence they may need in order to prove their relationship is true and is not based on false pretenses as an attempt to defraud the government.

How Does USCIS Determine there is Immigration Fraud for a K-1 Visa?

The USCIS looks for certain red flags when they are attempting to determine whether immigration fraud is occurring by individuals attempting to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa. The following list includes some examples that may signal USCIS authorities to further investigate an individual's visa application:

  • The couple does not have a shared language;
  • There is a large age gap between the parties;
  • Differences in race or religion;
  • Unequal educational backgrounds;
  • The couple is residing in separate addresses;
  • The marriage is secret from friends and family;
  • The timing of the marriage may be due to urgency;
    • For example, if one party is approaching the expiration date on a nonimmigrant visa and will have to leave the U.S., a marriage at this time may seem suspicious;
  • The marriage occurred quickly after the couple met, or quickly after a divorce;
  • The U.S. petitioner has a history of supporting other spousal immigrants;
  • The U.S. petitioner is in need of cash;
  • Either individual has a history of crime, especially fraud offenses; and
  • Any attempt to create false evidence of a shared life prior to the interview.

The first portion of the approval process for a fiancé visa petition may take anywhere from 4 to 6 months. The second part of the application process typically takes anywhere between 45 to 60 days.
There are some K-1 fiancé visa applications which are approved in as little as 3 months, while others take well over 12 months, depending on the circumstances. Each K-1 fiancé visa application is unique.

An experienced immigration attorney will be able to provide a better estimate of how long the process should take for an individual's application situation.

How Can A Lawyer Help Me with My Fiancé Visa Issues?

It is essential to have the help of an experienced immigration lawyer for any immigration issues you may have, including obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa. Immigration laws and requirements for legal residency are very complex and have strict deadlines that must be followed. These may be especially difficult to follow if English is not your native language.

A lawyer will review your application to ensure it is accurate and complete, which will help to expedite the visa process. In addition, your attorney can help you file an appeal if your initial visa application is denied.