February 6, 2013
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love and romance abounds. The internet and the ability to more easily travel have revolutionized dating, with international romances easier to develop and foster. What can you do when you fall in love with an individual who lives in a distant land far away, with you in the United States? The solution is a fiancée visa, known as a K-1 visa.
In order for an American citizen to petition an overeseas fiancée, certain criteria need to be met. In addition to the various forms that must be submitted, it must be shown that the relationship between the United States citizen and the fiancée is bona fide and legitimate. To prove the existence of a bona fide and legitimate relationship, the American citizen petitioner must include documentation in relation to the legitimacy of the relationship. These documents may include items such as but not limited to photographs, letters, emails, cards, and long-distance telephone bills to one another. The petitioner must also submit an affidavit stating how the couple met, how they decided to get married, and the plans for the marriage and honeymoon. Also, the American citizen petitioner must be able to show that he/she is willing to take financial responsibility for the fiancée by submitting an Affidavit of Support and supporting documents, such as tax returns and paystubs.
Out of concern for the foreign individual, the US government will also inquire as to whether the American citizen spouse has certain criminal convictions. If so, the convictions must be revealed in the petition and the information will be relayed to the foreign fiancée.
Additionally, it is required that the United States citizen and the fiancée must have personally met within the past two years. This requirement can be waived only if it can be shown that the United States citizen would encounter severe hardship should he/she be required to travel abroad to see the overseas fiancée. For example, the American citizen may have significant health problems that restrict the ability to travel. Another basis for a waiver of the personal meeting requirement is if it is a long-standing custom and traditional for the future bride and groom to not see one another prior to the wedding.
Finally, the United States citizen and overseas fiancée must attest to that fact that they intend to get married, and then actually do get married, within ninety days of the arrival of the individual into the United States.
The petition and the supporting documents are all filed by the United States citizen with the DHS in the United States. If the petition and all supporting documents sufficiently prove to the DHS that the relationship is bona fide and legitimate, the petition can be approved in just a few months. Once the petition has been approved, the overseas fiancée may then proceed with obtaining the fiancée visa through their local United States Embassy.
The fiancée’s unmarried children under age 21 are also eligible to obtain K-2 dependent fiancée visas in order to come to the United States. It is important to note that when a non-US citizen fiancée has children between the ages of 18-21, the couple should not get married and instead pursue the fiancée visa so that the children can also come to the US. If they get married, then the children ages 18-21 will not be eligible to obtain any type of dependent visa.
Upon arrival to the United States, the fiancée and children have the immediate ability to apply for a work permit. Immediately upon the marriage of the United States citizen and the fiancée, the fiancée and children may then apply to adjust their status to that of an immigrant, thereby obtaining permanent residency in the United States.
For those from the Philippines, special considerations must be taken into account if either of the parties have previously been married in the Philippines. Although an individual can obtain a divorce in the United States, the Philippine government does not honor the US divorce and continues to consider the individual married. The fiancée petition may therefore be the only solution for the couple to be together in the United States.
Since the immigration service considers marriage fraud to be an extremely serious violation, fiancée petitions are greatly scrutinized to ensure that the relationship is legitimate and bona fide. Individuals must ensure that the petition is well prepared at documenting the legitimacy of the relationship to avoid unnecessary delay and potential denial.