In today’s interconnected world, it is not uncommon for people to fall in love across international borders. If your soon-to-be spouse is a foreign national, you will likely need to apply for a K-1 visa in order for both of you to live in the United States.
The K-1 visa is also known as a fiancée (or fiancé) visa. This pathway to citizenship was established during the Vietnam War after it became increasingly cumbersome for Vietnamese women to legally marry American soldiers and move out of Vietnam. Today, K-1 visas allow couples to reside in the U.S. after marrying in either a foreign or domestic ceremony.
In order to apply for a K-1 visa, a person must be intending to marry an American citizen, be legally able to marry, and must have met his or her intended spouse in person sometime in the past two years.
The application process for K-1 visa is lengthy, and usually takes between 6-9 months to receive a visa. To begin the application, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services requires a substantial amount of forms, fees, and proof that the relationship is legitimate. Once the application is processed, it is sent on to the National Visa Center, which will conduct a background check on both future spouses. Finally, the couple will need to attend an interview with a U.S. Consulate Office.
After the application is approved and the visa is granted, the couple is required to marry within 90 days after the receipt of the visa. Since it is nearly impossible to predict when a visa will be approved, couples who are waiting on a fiancée visa should be sure to keep their wedding plans flexible.
Getting a K-1 visa approved does not permanently stop immigration concerns. The visa can still be revoked for several reasons, like if the couple does not actually marry, or if the foreign spouse violates the terms of his or her visa by committing a crime.
If the couple remains married for two years, then the K-1 visa will be converted and the foreign spouse will receive permanent residency status. However, if the couple divorces within two years of the date of the visa, the visa will be revoked and the immigrant spouse will be eligible for deportation.
There are exceptions to the two-year rule, however. If an immigrant spouse can show extreme hardship if he or she would be deported, or that the marriage was made in good faith, or that he or she suffered violence during the marriage, then that person may be eligible for a waiver.
Dealing with immigration issues during a divorce case can be complicated. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our experienced Washington family law attorneys can review your situation and advise you on your best course of action. To learn more about your legal options, contact our office today by calling 509-572-3700.