Even if you have never had any direct interaction with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you probably know one of the quickest ways to become a United States citizen is through marriage. We’ve all seen it before on television, in the movies or somewhere similar – a foreign national meets a U.S. citizen, they fall in love, marry, and move back to the States and live happily (or maybe not so happily) ever after. The end.
Of course, in reality the process can be considerably less romantic, with piles of legal paperwork and authorizations to deal with. Foreign nationals who marry in such a fashion must apply for their green card after the ceremony and have their permanent status granted by the USCIS after they receive the application. Depending on their particular situation and background, this could take some time. In practice and in theory, however, the process remains one the quickest paths to U.S. citizenship.
But what happens when a couple, living overseas, wish to marry in the United States? One of them is a U.S. citizen, the other a foreign national. For unknown reasons, they wish to marry in the U.S. rather than in the other spouse’s home country. What options would a couple have under those conditions?
In order to proceed, they would need to submit a Form I-129F, otherwise known as a Petition for Alien Fiancé, or a K-1 Non-Immigrant Visa. The K-I visa allows immigrants a small amount of time (90 days) in which to enter the country and marry their loved one. This, in turn, would allow them to submit their Form I-485, or permanent residence adjustment. But, in order to successfully secure a K-1 visa, the petitioner – the U.S. citizen, in this case – must clarify a number of items before the temporary visa could be granted:
- The petitioner in question must confirm that he or she is in fact a United States citizen.
- Upon entering the United States, the couple would have 90 days in which to get married and submit their Form I-485 application
- The couple must prove that they are free to marry and any previous relationships have been legally terminated through death, divorce or annulment.
- The couple in question must have met two years prior to submitting their application.
Of course, ever relationship is unique and there are many different ways in which to enter the United States. Before attempting to file a petition on your own or with your loved one, we highly recommend speaking with a dedicated immigration law attorney. Call Peek & Toland today for more information on fiancé visas and any additional immigration questions you may have.