Fiancé visas, or K-1 visas, are granted to foreign citizens who intend to marry an American citizen. This specific type of visa allows them entry into the United States so long as they are engaged to, and/or intending to marry a U.S. citizen. It is important to note that a fiance visa does not grant legal permanent residency, such as a green card. Rather, it only grants the non-resident a timeframe of six months in which they may enter the United States.

They then have ninety days after entry in which they must marry the U.S. citizen. The K-1 visa allows entry once only. What this means is that once the non-resident has entered the country, they cannot leave and return on the K-1 visa. Additionally, they must leave the country once their initial six month period has run its course.

In order to obtain a fiance visa, the U.S. citizen must first file a Petition for Alien Fiance. This is the USCIS Form I-129F. Once this petition has been approved and processed, it will be sent to the embassy or consulate where the fiance is applying. Once the petition has been approved, the non-citizen has four months in which they may apply for the visa.

The following must be provided to the embassy, by the non-resident:

  • A passport valid for six months after intended entry into U.S.;
  • Birth Certificate;
  • Police certificate from all places lived since age sixteen;
  • Medical examination report;
  • Evidence of financial support;
  • Two Nonimmigrant Visa Applications, Form DS-156;
  • One Nonimmigrant Fiance Visa Application, Form DS-156K; and
  • Evidence of a fiance relationship.

Once married, the foreign citizen must apply for a marriage visa. A marriage visa is what grants permanent residency. They must file an Application to Register Permanent Residence USCIS Form I-485. Additionally, the U.S. citizen must file an Affidavit of Support, USCIS Form I-864. Once approved, the foreign citizen will be granted a conditional green card.

After two years, they can apply to remove the conditional status. This is done with Form I-751. The non-resident must have been married for two years, or have divorced from a good-faith marriage. Additionally, they must demonstrate that the marriage was not an attempt to evade other immigration laws.

What Are Some Issues That Might Delay a Fiance Visa or Green Card Application?

It is absolutely crucial to note that marriage immigration is a legal way to obtain a visa, if the person applying meets eligibility requirements. Marriage immigration is not in and of itself illegal. However, immigration marriage is illegal when it is based on fraud. This refers to a situation in which a person enters into a fake or fraudulent marriage solely to deceive immigration officials. Such arrangements are often referred to as “sham marriages.”

A sham marriage arrangement involves the couple entering into a fraudulent marriage simply for the purposes of obtaining a visa. Because of this, immigration laws always require evidence that the couple is in a valid relationship. This aspect of the immigration process can often cause delays in the fiancé green card or visa application, as well as change the green card priority date.

Other issues that commonly delay a fiancé visa or green card application may include:

  • Expiration Dates: The applicant should be aware of various dates related to filing. Such dates may include filing deadlines, expiration date on the visa, the time period in which the marriage must occur, and other dates;
  • Financial Requirements: Both the foreign applicant and the U.S. sponsor must provide evidence of a certain degree of financial stability and independence. Additionally, the U.S. sponsor must be able to provide for their spouse. However, in some specific cases, a different sponsor may be allowed to make the petition on behalf of the non-resident; and
  • Quota Limitations: There are no restrictions on how many fiancé visas can be issued each year. However, processing times may slow down if there are many visas being handled in a given time period. This is associated with the green card priority date previously mentioned. Priority dates mark a person’s “place” in the queue line for visas. When the person’s date becomes active or current, they become eligible to apply for a green card.

Additionally, any errors or missed deadlines in an application will absolutely slow down the process. Should the immigration authorities discover any suspicious information contained within the application, the couple may be required to appear at additional interviews or hearings. Additional appearances can also cause delays in the overall processing time.

What Else Should I Know About Green Card Priority Dates?

The term “priority date” may apply to various immigration situations. The most common are applications for immigrant visas and requests to adjust status. Generally speaking, priority dates are located on Form I-797, or “Notice of Action,” for the particular petition that was filed for the applicant.

All petitions must be filed properly in order to trigger a priority date. What this means is that the required signatures, fees, and requested documentation must be properly supplied by the applicant. Failure to do so may push back the priority date, or could altogether disqualify the person from an application. On a similar note, failing to submit an application entirely may have negative consequences on a person’s priority date and their place in line.

If there are more applicants than available visas, that fact could cause a priority date to be unavailable in the next month. This is referred to as “visa retrogression,” and can change a person’s eligibility or place in line.

Any instances of fraudulent intent in an immigration application may automatically disqualify a person for green card eligibility. Applicants can check their priority dates and place in the visa line through official USCIS Visa Bulletins. Such bulletins often contain updates and important information regarding deadlines.

What Else Should I Know About Marriage Immigration?

In order to immigrate to the United States through marriage, and obtain a permanent visa, a person will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Establish that the marriage is real by filling out forms and providing documentation, such as a marriage certificate;
  • Provide proof that one party is a U.S. citizen;
  • Provide proof that the couple is not divorced;
  • Pay the required filing fee;
  • Establish independent eligibility for receiving a green card;
  • Attend requested any interviews; and
  • Await approval or denial for the green card.

A person may be ineligible/inadmissible for a marriage immigration visa in the following instances:

  • If they have been convicted of certain serious crimes, an act of terrorism, or have violated certain immigration laws;
  • If they have a contagious disease such as HIV or tuberculosis;
  • If they have spent too much time in the U.S. illegally; and/or
  • They are married to more than one person.

However, if a person is found to be inadmissible, they may file form I-601 with the USCIS office. Doing so would be for the purpose of seeking an immigrant visa, adjustment of status, certain nonimmigrant statuses, or certain other immigration benefits. This form is called “Application for Waiver on the Ground of Inadmissibility.” I-601 will only be granted if they can prove a unique situation, such as suffering from an extreme hardship or requesting a vaccination exemption.

Marriage fraud is illegal, and is classified as a felony. As such, it can result in various legal penalties. This can include deportation, loss of current immigration status, and/or a lifetime ban on obtaining U.S. Citizenship for the foreign person. It can also include fines or prison time for the U.S. citizen involved, and the marriage may be annulled.

Should I Speak With a Lawyer for Avoiding Delays for Fiance Visas or Green Cards?

Immigration laws are complex, and they are subject to change every year or presidential election. Thus, it is in your best interests to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyer to avoid delays for fiance visas or green cards. An experienced local immigration attorney can review your application for accuracy in order to prevent unnecessary delays along the way. Additionally, an attorney can also represent you in court as needed, should any issues arise.