Certain American citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) may sponsor close relatives for immigration to the United States. Family-based immigration involves a two- or three-step procedure. In some cases, the steps are consolidated. However, there are always two decisions — whether the petition to verify the relationship qualifies under the law, and the relative’s personal eligibility to immigrate. Here is a basic discussion of the rules and procedures for various types of family-based visas.
If you’re trying to bring a foreign-born spouse or intended spouse to the United States, contact Ahmad & Associates to discuss your situation and set up a consultation with an immigration lawyer. Based in Northern Virginia, we represent people in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, throughout the United States and internationally. We speak Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Spanish, and French, and can arrange for translation of many other languages.
Fiancé / Fiancée Visas (K-1)
A K-1 is a temporary visa available only to the fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen. A K-1 petition is filed with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the citizen’s residence. The petition is usually decided in six to nine months. If approved, the petition and supporting documents are then sent to the designated American consulate.
The foreign national fiancé or fiancée is then invited to the consulate for an interview and, hopefully, issuance of the K-1 visa. The fiancé or fiancée must come to the U.S. within six months. The parties must then marry within 90 days. Then the foreign national applies for permanent resident status (adjustment of status) with USCIS.
For a K-1, the sponsor must have physically met the foreign national within the preceding two years and should be able to prove it. Usually, a photograph and other documents are required. Many consulates quickly process fiancé and fiancée petitions. Others view them as a high-fraud situation and investigate closely, looking for other marriages and past visa fraud.
Once the fiancé or fiancée has entered the U.S. on the K-1 visa, they must get legally married within 90 days in order to complete the process. Then, the applicant should file Form I-485 to adjust to permanent resident status (green card).
Ahmad & Associates is able to prepare and file fiancé and fiancée visas quickly. We also intervene with the consulate to try to expedite fiancé and fiancée visas when there is a good reason to do so.
Spouse Visa (K-3)
A K-3 visa allows a spouse (husband or wife) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States as a non-immigrant, and wait in the U.S. for the green card application process to finish. A K3 visa applicant must have an immigrant petition (I-130) filed on his or her behalf by their citizen spouse.
After entering the U.S. on the K-3 non-immigrant visa, the spouse of the citizen will be required to file Form I-485 to adjust status. The other option is to wait for the I-130 approval outside of the U.S. and then go to a U.S. consulate abroad to obtain an immigrant visa. Both lead to permanent resident status (green card). The non-citizen spouse will become a permanent resident immediately upon entry, with either immediate relative (IR) status or conditional resident (CR) status, if the marriage is less than two years old.
The K-1 fiancé visa and the K-3 spouse visa are two of the fastest ways to immigrate to the U.S. As a result, they are used by many immigrants to enter the U.S., but there is also a high likelihood of fraud. Therefore, applications for both visas are scrutinized very carefully by USCIS, as well as by the U.S. Consulate at the time of the interview, in an attempt to detect marriage fraud and scams.
What should a K-3 visa holder do after entering the U.S.?
- A K-3 visa holder has up to two years to travel to a U.S. port of entry (POE) within the visa's validity period.
- After entering the U.S., the K-3 visa holder should file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- They will then, along with the citizen sponsor, attend an interview with a USCIS officer at a local office. Sometimes, you may be called in for a secondary interview (Stokes interview).
- When the I-485 application is approved, the K-3 visa holder will receive a green card (permanent resident card) in the mail.
- If the couple has been married less than two years when the I-485 is approved, or when the non-citizen enters the U.S. on an immigrant visa, the K-3 visa holder will first receive a conditional (temporary) two-year green card. When the two years is almost up (within the final three months), the conditional resident spouse is required to file Form I-751 to remove the conditional green card status. Once the application is approved, the non-citizen will receive a 10-year green card.
Speak with an Immigration Attorney About Marriage-Related Visas
If you’d like to bring your spouse or future spouse to the United States, contact Ahmad & Associates to discuss your situation and set up a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer. From offices in Northern Virginia, we serve clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, around the United States and worldwide. We speak Arabic, French, Hindi, Spanish and Urdu and can provide an interpreter for many other languages.