When you went to Spain to help your employer open a new overseas headquarters in Madrid, you expected to spend the entire year setting up IT infrastructure. You didn’t expect to meet Maria, who works for one of your company’s suppliers, and you certainly didn’t anticipate falling in love. But it happened, and when you proposed shortly before returning home to Georgia, Maria accepted.
As an American citizen, you have the right to marry the person of your choice, regardless of his or her citizenship or national origin. If you are engaged to someone who is currently residing outside of the U.S. and want to marry them here, they will need to apply for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
If you want to sponsor Maria to come to the U.S. and build a life with her here, certain basic requirements must be met, namely:
- You are a citizen of the United States.
- You have personally met your fiancé(e) within the last two years. This particular requirement is written into the statute and cannot be disregarded unless a couple demonstrates successfully that they are eligible to have it waived.
- Both parties are legally free to marry.
- You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States.
- You meet the minimum income requirement. Visa applicants are typically asked to prove that their sponsor can support them at a level equal to or above the federal poverty guidelines.
Filing the Visa Petition
If you meet the essential requirements for sponsoring Maria, you must then file a visa petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This includes:
- Petition for Alien Fiance (Form I-129F)
- Biographic Information (Form G-325A)
The entire package must include proof of your American citizenship, evidentiary details of your courtship, proof that you and Maria have personally met in the last two years, a color passport-style photo of each of you, and an explanation if you have a criminal record. If one of you has been married in the past, you will have to provide evidence that the previous relationship no longer exists, such as a divorce order or death certificate for the other spouse.
If your petition is approved, you will be notified of the fact and the USCIS will forward it to the National Visa Center, which in turn will transfer the file to the U.S. consulate or embassy in Spain.
Applying at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy
The next stage of the process is for Maria to be interviewed by a consular officer. At the time, she will have to submit documentation that includes:
- Birth certificate
- Results of a medical examination
- Evidence of vaccinations
- Divorce order or death certificate for previous spouse if married before
- Evidence of a bona fide relationship with a U.S. citizen
- Two passport style photos
- A valid passport with an expiration date over six months from the date she would have to leave the U.S. after entering on the K-1 visa.
If all documentation is in order and the consular office believes that you and Maria are in a legitimate relationship, she will likely be approved for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
Entering the United States
Once Maria receives the visa, she has a maximum of six months to join you in the U.S. Upon arrival, she must marry you within 90 days or leave the country. After the wedding, she will be allowed to remain with you in the U.S. and apply for a green card, a process known as “adjustment of status.”
At Williams Immigration we have years of experience in assisting clients with K-1 fiancé(e) visa applications and other immigration issues. Contacting our office can be a successful first step in a long and happy marriage to your foreign-born spouse.