The K-1 nonimmigrant visa allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. for a period of 90 days in order to marry the petitioner and apply for permanent residence.
During the 90-day period, the parties must marry. If not, the beneficiary will have to return back to his/her home country. No extension of stay is permitted. If they get married during that time frame, the beneficiary can then apply for permanent residency here in the U.S. and will be given the two-year conditional status.
Before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the K-1 petition, the petitioner and the beneficiary must satisfy certain requirements.
First, the parties have to prove that they have previously met in person within two years prior to filing the petition, unless a waiver is granted. Secondly, they must prove that they have a good faith intention to marry each other. Lastly, they have to prove that they are free to enter into a valid marriage in the U.S. within 90 days from the fiancé(e)’s arrival.
In one case, the petition of a Michigan resident was denied because he was only fourteen (14) years old and was prohibited to enter into a valid marriage by the state because of his age.
But, in another case, the petition of a Michigan resident was approved because, although the parties were first cousins and prohibited to get married under Michigan laws, the prohibition did not apply to a marriage solemnized in another state.
There are instances when the “previous meeting” requirement can be waived. This can be done if they can show extreme hardship or strict and established customs prohibiting the prospective bride and groom from meeting prior to the marriage. Examples of grounds for waiver of previous meeting due to extreme hardship may be health reasons, political dangers, and financial burdens.
If the K-1 beneficiary has children, the minor unmarried children may join the K-1 principal under the K-2 visa, provided they are included in the I-129 form as accompanying or following to join the beneficiary.
If the K-1 petition is approved, the beneficiary must present the following documents: Form DS-156 (in duplicate) and Supplement, valid passport, birth certificate, evidence of termination of prior marriages, police clearance or certificate, medical examination record and financial records to show that he/she will not become a public charge.
For those who are already married to each other, the K-3 visa status category allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is waiting abroad for an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. initially as a nonimmigrant and then to later adjust to immigrant status once in the U.S. The K-3 beneficiary’s minor unmarried children may qualify under the K-4 visa status.
To be eligible for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, an applicant must be the spouse of a U.S. Citizen and the beneficiary of an immediate relative (I-130) petition and an approved I-129F K-3 petition.
Under the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), K-1 or K-3 petitioners must disclose information about any criminal convictions for specified crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse, stalking and sexual assault. They are also required to inform the USCIS of the involvement of any international marriage broker.
Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For further information, you may call him at 212 695 5281 or log on to his website at www.seguritan.com