The K-1 visa, more commonly known as the fiancé visa, helps to allow non-U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens acquire citizenship through marriage. The foreign citizen can come to the U.S. in a legal manner, and marry their desired partner. These visas act as a legal tool, provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to help aid foreign citizens and U.S. citizens through the process and ensure they stay compliant.
Eligibility For K-1 Visas
Applicants who desire to apply for the K-1 visa must meet a few qualifications. First, the couple must show proof that they have met one another in person for at least two years. This rule can be waived though, for religious and/or traditional heritage that prevents the couple from meeting until marriage.
The second requirement of a K-1 visa, the couple marry within 90 days of the visa holder entering the United States. Various other requirements for a smooth K-1 visa process include one of the members of the couple being a U.S. citizen, as well as both parties being legally able to marry. This can include that both are of age and that their previous marriages have ended in a legal divorce, annulment, or the death of their previous spouse. There can be instances where these events may have to be proven, so having legal documentation can be of great help.
Qualifications for U.S. Citizenship
On the side of the U.S. citizen’s requirements in the visa process, one of the main items is that they are a legal U.S. citizen. This can mean they were born in the U.S., or on any of its territories. These territories include all military bases as well. The second form of citizenship can be gained through having at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen.
Children, those that are classified as the legal age of a minor, can gain citizenship through their parents. When the parents of a child become a U.S. citizen, the status of the child is changed as well. If a person goes through naturalization, they also gain the ability to bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. on a K-1 visa.
Since legal permanent residents in the U.S. are not legal citizens, they aren’t eligible for the K-1 visa program. Not being legal citizens prohibits them from bringing their foreign citizens here for citizenship. What those who hold permanent residency can do is marry outside of the U.S., and then both can apply for green cards to reenter the U.S. legally.
K-1 Visas & Same-Sex Couples
Couples pursuing K-1 visas who are same-sex must ensure the state in which they desire to reside is properly equipped. While same-sex marriage was declared by The United States Supreme Court to be legal in all states, the states each have their own singular legality on the matter. Couples must have the usual requirements for a K-1 visa, while also proving that the marriage will occur in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.
If one, or both, of the members of the couple, have been previously married, they must show documentation of legal divorce or death certificate. The USCIS will require proof from the U.S. citizen in the couple or the foreign national. The country where the previous marriage occurred must also acknowledge the divorce, or else the U.S. can’t recognize the divorce or annulment.
While the legal age to marry in every U.S. state is 18 to marry, there are some that allow underage marriage to occur with the permission of both parents. If there is a U.S. citizen that desires to marry an underage foreign citizen, they must be getting married in one of the U.S. states that allow underage marriages. There also must be permission sent by both of the foreign fiancé’s parents. This permission must be within a legal document.
The various states within the United States have laws regarding marriage between blood relatives. All 50 states have laws against the marriage of direct blood relatives. This includes marriages that would include parents and children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles and nieces or nephews, and great-grandparents and grandchildren. Those are all illegal in the fifty states.
While some states allow marriages between first cousins, it is illegal in most states. If a U.S. citizen wishes to marry a first cousin who resides as a foreign citizen, they can apply for the K-1 visa. They will have to go through the process, and ensure that they will be residing in a state where marrying your first cousin is legal.
Start Your K-1 Visa Process
Are you and your foreign fiancé ready to start your K-1 visa process? If so, it is highly recommended seeking out the legal counsel of an immigration attorney. The team of immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, PLLC, will help to keep your K-1 visa process as smooth as possible. Call the Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge, PLLC, by phone at 703.273.5500 or request a consultation online.