Fiance Visa cases can be tricky. You need to make sure that your paperwork is in order and that you provide all the information USCIS wants and needs in a timely manner. If this is not done then you risk significant delays or worse, your case being denied.
My office has handled these types of cases for almost 20 years. I have met with clients who have tried to handle matters themselves and have turned cases, which should take 6 months, into cases which are taking 3 or more years to complete. (This is due to small mistakes being made in the process which led to significant delays). Do not let this happen to you. Please call us at 888-801-6558 and at least get some advice on your case prior to proceeding with your fiancé visa case.
These are the Top Ten Things you should know about the fiancé visa process. Please understand that this article is general in nature and does not substitute for legal advice on your particular case.
1. You are required to be a United States Citizen. You, as the one filing the petition with USCIS , must be a US Citizen. A person who is a green card holder only cannot successfully file a Fiancé Visa Petition. Therefore, if you only have a green card and you are eligible to apply for Citizenship you should apply to become a U.S. Citizen.
However, keep in mind, that a green card holder who applies for citizenship does put his or her green card on the line. This means that you can lose your green card if your citizenship case does not go well. The most likely reason is that the US Citizenship applicant has criminal issues which have come up since he or she obtained a green card. Many times USCIS is not aware of any criminal issues you have had since obtaining your green card until you apply for Naturalization. Once they find out about these problems they may take your green card from you. Not all past criminal problems would cause you problems if you were to apply for U.S. Citizenship. We can let you know if you will have a problem applying for U.S. Citizenship.
You will prove that you are a U.S. Citizen by supplying USCIS a copy of your U.S. birth certificate (this is the preferred method). If this is not available you may supply a copy of your U.S. Passport of your Certificate of Naturalization.
2. You must intend to marry each other. You must be able to show USCIS that you and your fiancé intend to marry each other. If this is not your intent then this is not the right type of non-immigrant visa to use. USCIS will require both you and your fiance to sign affidavits under oath. These affidavits will state that you intend to marry each other within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States. In addition, you will also be explaining how you met each other and how your relationship has developed over the time you have known each other.
You will also need to prove that you have a bona fide fiancé relationship with each other. (This is generally shown through email correspondence, evidence of gifts, receipts and photos of the engagement ring(s), evidence of trips you have taken together, affidavits from family members and friends etc.
In addition, you can help prove the bona fides of your relationship by showing Facebook posts from friends and family congratulating you on your engagement. (Yes, USCIS does know how to use Facebook and they do use it, and other social media sites and other sites (think Google, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) at times, when investigating cases.) Therefore, as an aside, be very careful about what you post on Facebook and other social media sites. USCIS can use these sites to help make a determination in your case (without you being aware that they are doing this). USCIS believes that these sites give it an excellent vantage point to observe your marital relationship.
You must also show USCIS that you are treating your engagement like a typical engagement in your fiancée’s home country. If, for example, in your fiancée’s home country it is typical to have a formal engagement party then you should have one. You need to make sure you comply with the cultural customs of your fiancée’s home country. If this is not done then your case can be denied at the fiancé visa interview level.
3. Meeting Requirement. You must have met your fiancée face to face (not via Skype or over the computer) and also in person within the last two years. If you were childhood friends but have not seen each other in the past 2 years then you will not meet this requirement. In certain instances waivers to this requirement may be available. However, these are not easy to obtain. For example, you may be able to get a waiver to this face to face requirement based on medical or religious reasons. Not being able to afford to visit your fiancé in person is generally not an acceptable reason for a waiver to this requirement to be granted by USCIS.
You can prove to USCIS that you have met in person by showing: date stamped photos of the two of you together; photocopies of dated plane tickets, restaurant receipts, hotel receipts; passport pages showing entry stamps to the foreign country where the 2 of you met; and signed affidavits by family and friends attesting, under oath, that you have met each other. Have an immigration attorney review your evidence to make sure it will be strong enough for you to obtain your fiancé visa.
If your evidence is not strong enough it can and should be made stronger prior to filing the case. It is much better to wait an extra 30 days, obtain more evidence and file a much stronger case then it is to file a weaker case early.
4. The U.S. Citizen will have to show that he has sufficient income to support his fiance when she arrives in the United States. The poverty guidelines are promulgated by the federal government and they change every year. It is a rare case when our office cannot figure out a way for you to meet this requirement. Simply call us, free of charge about this issue. We are very likely able to help you in this area.
The income requirement is not very high and it varies based on the size of your household. Your income must be at least 100% of the federal poverty line for your new household size. For example: In 2013 your income will need to be $15,510 or higher, at the fiancé visa stage, if your new family size will consist of only you and your fiancé. (At the fiancé visa stage your income will need to be at least 100% of the federal poverty line. However, after you marry your fiancé and apply for the green card in the United States, your income will need to be at least 125% of the federal poverty line for your new household size.) You can check the federal poverty guidelines for your new household size to determine the amount of income you need in order to meet the income requirement.
If you do not meet the income requirement you may be able to use assets which you own to meet the requirements.
If you are unable to meet the income requirement you may get a co-sponsor to help you. Usually co-sponsors consist of close relatives and very good friends. At the fiancé visa stage you will be filing Form I-134. You will also supply: a bank letter (showing the amount you have on deposit with the bank, the date the account was opened and the total amount that was deposited in the past year); an employer letter on company letterhead which states that you currently work there, how long you have worked there, how much you make, what your job is, and whether the job is temporary or permanent); statements from your investment accounts and your last 3 years worth of federal tax returns.
5. Previous Fiance Visa Cases Can be a Problem. You must not have filed more than two fiancée visas in the past nor had an approved fiancée petition in the last two years. Once again, a waiver is available but there is no guarantee that it will be granted.
USCIS will notify the person receiving the fiancé visa if the U.S. Citizen fiancé has had 2 previous fiancé visas or marriage visas approved in the past 10 years. If this is your case then you should notify your fiancé of your prior petitions. She needs to be completely aware of your past attempts to bring other fiancés or spouses into the United States. If she is not aware of these past petitions and learns of them at the interview the case can be denied.
6. You must both be Free to Marry. You and your fiancée must both be free to get married (meaning that you are both eligible to get married) at the time you file your petition. Do not file a fiancé visa petition with USCIS if you or your fiancé has a pending divorce. This will not save you any time. On the contrary it will make your case take longer. My advice would be to review any previous annulments or divorces with a family law attorney to ensure that you and your fiancé are, in fact free to marry each other. (Believe it or not some people believe that their divorce has been finalized when in fact it hasn’t been finalized. As a result they are still married to their “previous” spouse.)
It is much better to wait until you know, for sure, that your divorce is final, then to file your case prematurely and have it denied. If your case is denied do not expect to appeal the decision. Rather, you will need to start the whole process all over again.
7. You cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. USCIS will be looking at the criminal background of the US citizen. The US Citizen must not have been convicted of a variety of crimes such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, dating violence, stalking, controlled substance violations and homicide. Just to be safe, if you have had any crime in your past then an immigration attorney should review the matter prior to you filing your fiance visa case. It is better to take the time in the beginning to clear up any criminal issues then to have them come up during the case. You should never lie to USCIS and you should expect them to know about your criminal history.
Also, your fiancé should be told about your criminal past. It will really hurt your case if, at the interview, your fiancé has no idea that you were convicted of the crime in question. It will really make your relationship seem less bona fide and can lead to your case being denied.
8. There is a 90 day Rule Concerning Marriage. Within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States you will need to get married. Your fiancée will only be able to marry you. She or he will not be able to marry someone else on the fiancé visa if someone else comes along.
If she enters the United States on a fiancée visa and does not marry you within 90 days then she will need to return to her home country. Do not put the marriage off. Marry her within the 90 day period so your fiancé remains in legal status. If you did not get married within the 90 day period then you should consult with a fiance visa attorney immediately. Once you get married you can then file for adjustment of status so that she may get her green card. At the same time she can apply for work authorization. At the present time it takes approximately 90 days to receive the work authorization card. Therefore, if you are sure you are going to get married don’t wait until the last minute. Get married and start the green card process so that you can obtain the work authorization card sooner.
9. Your fiancé will also have other requirements with USCIS . Your fiancé cannot be any of the following: a person who is likely to go on welfare; a person with a communicable disease, or a person with a dangerous physical or mental disorder. He or she cannot have committed very serious criminal acts (including prostitution or drug trafficking). These are things you likely want to know before you get married.
10. Past Immigration Violations. Your fiancée must not have violated U.S. immigration laws. He or she cannot have used fraud or any other illegal means to enter US in the past. He or she cannot have used fraud or other illegal means to enter the United States. In addition past immigration violations by the non citizen fiancé can put the K1 fiancé visa process in jeopardy. These would include: violating student visa rules; entering the U.S. without a visa; overstaying a visa; working in the United States without work authorization. You can have our firm review the Immigration history of your fiancé to make sure there will not be any issues in your fiancé visa case. It is much better to deal with these issues prior to filing the fiancé visa.
(Please note that there are specific requirements in order to bring your fiance’s minor children into the United States. Please call us and we can make sure that there are no problems in this area.)
If you can overcome these issues then a fiancée visa (K1 visa) can be approved. We would be happy to analyze your case for free and help you review your options. You may reach us at 888-801-6558. We handle cases throughout the United States and the World.
How the Fiance Visa Process Works
Fiance Visa Case Timeline
1. Filing of the Fiance Visa with USCIS
2. The petition is received by USCIS and a Notice of Action is Sent to you.
3. USCIS evaluates the case and , if all goes well, an approval notice is sent to you
4. The File is sent from USCIS to the National Visa Center for Processing
5. The File is sent from the National Visa Center to the embassy or consulate handling your case
6. The Embassy will contact you with instructions on the case.
7 Obtain Medical Exam and other documents
8. Fiance Visa Interview at Embassy. We will prepare you for this interview.
9. Fiance Visa Granted. Congratulations!
No attorney-client relationship is established at this point. (However, simply contact our office at 888-801-6558. We would be happy to talk to you about the best way to handle your potential case.)