There are numerous types of visas people can get when visiting a foreign country. Not all citizens from all countries are required to get them, but for the United States of America you definitely need to get one depending on who you are and why you are planning the trip. Exchange students, workers, and tourists all have different visas to worry about, and this does not even begin to describe all of them.
Among the most issued and most sought visas have to deal with coming to live in America with a partner who already has a citizenship of the USA. Either a native or a naturalized foreigner, if you have a USA citizenship, your spouse or fiancé can also get it after certain conditions have been met and rules have been followed. For the purposes of this article we will focus on the fiancés and talk about the K-1 visa.
What do you need in order to get it, and how long does it take for an average person to get it? We aim to give you the answer to all of these questions right here and now. Make sure to thoroughly read the article and if you want to know more, definitely check out immigrationlawnv.com for any type of help or info you may need.
What is it and how Long does it Take?
Visas are named in a weird way that does not make a lot of sense out of context. All you get is a letter and a number so it takes some time and research to know exactly what it means. For example, worker’s visas are B, and student exchange visas are J. For fiancés, you will want to get a K-1 visa. This document allows an engaged partner of an American citizen to enter the States and live there. However, it is only available for issue if the couple gets married within 90 days following the non-citizens entry into the country. After they have been married, they can apply for permanent residence based on their marriage. This is what is called a green card, a document that makes you a permanent citizen of the USA.
In short, if your fiancé is already living and working in the USA and you are planning to start a life together there, you can apply for a K-1 visa and get it but only if you schedule a wedding within three months of your initial arrival. This is more than enough time to organize things especially if you have already planned to do it. Both men and women can be on either side of the story, the citizen and the fiancé looking to get the visa.
From June of 2021, it takes approximately 8 to 10 months for your documents to be processed. The main document is the I-129F form, also referred to as the petition for alien fiancé. After they have processed it, it takes between 4 and 6 weeks more for the agency to send a request for an interview at the closest consulate or embassy where you will have to talk to a representative about the visa and the whole arrangement. So, the best case scenario is at least 9 months, while the worst is around 11 months. All in all, you should devote a year to the whole planning, paperwork, and waiting before you can plan for the trip.
It is not at all cheap to apply and get this visa as the total costs come down to roughly $1,000. This is a lot of money to spend before you even get the chance to make it back on US soil, but it is how the system works and how it has been working for decades. There are different costs involved in the whole process, but the most expensive thing you have to pay for is the aforementioned Form I-129F that costs $535 alone. When you have it approved, the medical exam is next which is typically around $200. Once you pass the medical, the only thing left to pay is the actual application for the K-1 visa. This costs $265 and it is paid when you go for your interview. This is the last step before you get the final permission to travel to the USA and be with your fiancé. These are the costs you will absolutely have to pay and do not include potential translations and photocopies of certain documents like birth certificates and other things required.
Now that you know how much it costs and how long you have to wait for it, let us see if you are eligible for one and who can get a K-1. The most important thing is for you to have a fiancé living on US soil already. The second important thing is for both of you to have the intention to get married to each other no longer than 90 days after you arrive. There are other requirements too however, which also have to be met.
For example, the sponsoring partner must already be a citizen and not a green card holder. There is a big difference between the two as you can only apply for citizenship after you have been a green card holder for at least 5 years. Then, both partners must have their previous marriages fully terminated and their potential divorces have to be finalized. Same-sex partners are fully eligible for the K-1 no matter how the laws and practices in either of their home country view same-sex relationships and marriages. You have to prove the relationship with things like photos together, evidence of traveling together like hotel reservations, itineraries, and tickets, as well as statements from your family members, close friends, and colleagues who are familiar with your situation and particularly the engagement and future plans. Emails and messages between the two of you may also need to be reviewed for further proof.
Regarding the wedding, you will be asked to provide a signed statement of your intention to marry. If you already planned the wedding, it will definitely be a plus and you should submit the evidence for it. Many couples start preparing for it as soon as they decide to apply for the visa. In addition to all of this, there needs to be some kind of proof that you have seen each other at least once in the last two years before applying for the K-1. Lastly, the citizen partner has to meet income requirements and earn enough money to be above the tax return poverty line. The USA is very strict when it comes to taxes and they do not allow any room for error there.
Conclusion and Takeaways
It seems like a lot of work, and it can be said that it is. However, if your partner is already there and you are engaged, it is a great chance for the two of you to have a life together in the USA. A thousand dollars and some paperwork is all that is preventing you from happiness, and the actual worst part is the waiting game. Except this, the K-1 is one of the most straightforward types of visa to get, much easier than the tourist, working, or student varieties.