The K-1 Visa is a Visa issued to an immigrant who is engaged to a U.S. citizen, to allow the couple to meet in the U.S. to marry.
Sadly, as with many couples who make this request, they are new couples who face various obstacles when it comes to formalizing the relationship.
For many, this would be the first opportunity to live together and this can cause problems. And while the U.S. citizen can get out of the commitment without consequences, the K-1 Visa recipient does not have this privilege.
Many people abuse the vulnerable situation in which immigrants find themselves when they arrive in a new country where they do not know anyone, do not know the penal system, and abuse this lack of knowledge.
Unfortunately, there are no statistics on how many K-1 Visa recipients are victims of domestic abuse, but what we do know is that in the United States more than 10 million people have experienced domestic abuse by a partner.
Is A Waiver Needed To Obtain VAWA?
In this fiancé(e) process, waiver applies to persons who are already separated from their citizen partner.
Perhaps we have a citizen here in the U.S. and a partner in another country, the options for these cases are to get married and file a Family Petition, which may take a little longer.
The important thing is that the fiancé or the spouse will come to the United States with a permanent residence after the Consular Process.
The K-1 Visa is a process where a person can enter the United States a little faster.
It can take approximately six months to a year faster to enter the United States, but the person will enter with only one Visa, the K-1 Visa.
After entering you have to get married, apply for permanent residency, and wait for the Work Permit, Travel Permit, and all the missing documents.
In this part of the process, a waiver is not normally required, but there is a waiting period to obtain legal and permanent status in the U.S. after entering with the K-1.
When we have a couple separated by a border, the quickest way for them to be together is through the K-1 Visa rather than Consular Process after marriage, but everyone should be prepared for this time after entry, as it can prove to be difficult.
The immigrant may spend up to one year in the United States awaiting permanent residency without being able to travel and work most of that time.
Who Can Apply For The K-1 Visa?
U.S. citizens are the only ones who can apply for this type of Visa for their partner.
Permanent residents may not petition for a fiancé but may marry and petition for their husbands or wives.
Under the Visa Bulletin, there is currently a two to three-year wait for this immigration process.
So, for an immigrant who is a permanent resident who is eligible at this time to become a U.S. citizen, it would be a good idea if you have a fiancé in another country that you want to bring over as soon as possible to begin the citizenship process.
It would be an essential part of the immigration process at this point because normally, the waiting time for spouses of permanent residents can change based on what the bulletin says each month.
At this point, the best option for a permanent resident, due to the waiting time, would be to begin the U.S. citizenship process to petition for your fiancé to come to the United States.
What Are The K-1 Visa Conditions?
Primarily, the couple must have a bona fide relationship, they must have intentions to marry.
In fact, after entering the U.S. on a K-1 Visa it is almost impossible to adjust the status any other way, which is why it is extremely important to have plans to marry the petitioner after entering on a K-1 Visa.
You must send a form as usual to immigration, and in this case, it would be the form I-129F, You must fill out the form and prove that the couple has met in person at least once in the last two years.
There are exceptions in case you have not met your partner during the last two years, but these are specific and difficult situations.
These exceptions may be, for example, a very serious illness, but not due to Covid or lack of vacation.
You must be able to prove that the couple met somewhere in the world, no matter if it is in the beneficiary’s home country in the case.
As evidence, we can provide photos of the trip or the trip tickets.
Also, each of the applicants, both the beneficiary and the petitioner, have to fill out an affidavit which is a written statement explaining how they met, the history of the relationship, and plans to marry and formalize that marriage within 90 days after the beneficiary enters into the United States,
This part of the request is not very difficult, but it is important to do everything without making mistakes because they can reject a package or send a notice about a lack of evidence, and as a consequence, the process can take more months.
The second step is an appointment at the Consulate. Each Consulate in each country has different processes for handling these types of cases, so, sometimes this can be very frustrating for applicants.
Although each Consulate has its process, its doctors, forms, and ways of requesting interviews, all will request a packet after receiving approval of your I-129F form.
Then, you will receive a packet explaining the process which can be a bit complicated, but basically, it is to get to the time of the interview appointment at the Consulate.
Normally, in that interview, the case is approved and the applicant can enter with their children if they are included in the case.
Can I Apply For A K-1 If I Have A Work Permit?
The K-1 Visa does not come with many rights for the immigrant, because a person with the K-1 Visa can still be in the U.S. and get a license, but you will not be able to get a Work Permit or Travel Permit until the immigration document arrives, which normally arrives six to nine months after you apply for permanent residency.
Let’s say someone entered on a K-1 Visa in August 2022, that person by November 2022 (which is 90 days or three months), and that couple will have to get married and apply for permanent residency.
It would be a good idea to start planning at the time of entry into the United States. It may take one to two months to plan a ceremony or wedding, or just sign a license and prepare an adjustment of status case.
When the immigration agency receives the application for permanent residency, they assign a case number and begin the Work Permit process.
A few months later, the fiancé will have his fingerprinting and photo appointment, and after all that, they will finally receive the Work Permit, but that can take up to nine months.
During that waiting time, from the beginning of August until that couple finally applies in November, they won’t be able to get their Work Permit until May or June of next year, and during all this time, he will not have a Work Permit, nor will he be able to leave the country.
Many fiancées who come to the United States feel the shock of having to change their culture, and their country, they don’t have their community, their family, or their friends, they don’t know how to drive, they can’t work, they are at home depending exclusively on their petitioner.
The truth is, that time can be difficult, and that is what we have seen in our experience working at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law with clients in that process.
It would be a very important point for a couple to have a plan. Perhaps the immigrant can consider studying English, can register for classes, can have a schedule of activities that they can do to have a life apart from the confinement at home.
Can I Apply For A K-1 Visa If I Get Married In Another Country?
Let’s say the American petitioner has gone on a trip to Guatemala. He met a woman and they decided they wanted to get married.
They can get married in Guatemala, and if his immigrant wife doesn’t have a Tourist Visa, he will have to request her as his wife by sending the form I-130, maybe a waiver if she has any bar, and wait for her in Guatemala. Consular Process can take from one and a half to two years.
If they are not yet married, the petitioner has the option of petitioning for her as a fiancée by processing form I-129F K-1 Visa, and she could arrive in the United States normally about one year after beginning the process.
With this immigration path, the couple can undoubtedly wait less time apart, and the petitioner could wait with his fiancée in Guatemala until she obtains permission to come to the United States.
It is important to clarify that the K-1 Visa process would be carried out in case the petitioner and the immigrant person are not married either by the church, or by the civil registry, or celebrate a wedding, because if there are photos in their social networks or evidence that that is a marriage that a wedding took place, immigration could deny the fiancé(e)’s case saying that they are already married and do not qualify for this process.
What If You Already Have A K-1 Visa & A Tourist Visa?
It is possible to have two Visas in the United States. It is possible to have for example a Student Visa and a Tourist Visa at the same time.
The other option exists for those who already have Visas, let’s say again for example, that an American citizen was visiting Guatemala, met a woman and they want to get married.
Another option is if she had a Tourist Visa, she could come to the U.S., visit the U.S. citizen, stay with him in his home, get to know his community, and make sure that they really want to get married and live in the U.S. together.
There is another type of immigration process available called Adjustment of Status for people who entered with a Visa, are married citizens, and now plan to stay in the United States.
The difficulty is that you cannot enter on a Tourist Visa to get married and stay permanently in the U.S., as that is considered fraud on your Visa.
The important point is that at the time of the immigrant’s entry if she is entering on a Tourist Visa, testing to see if she wants to marry the citizen and stay here permanently, that means she has no plans to live permanently, which may be an idea but she has no concrete plans.
K-1 Visa Immigrants & Domestic Fiancee Abuse
For all immigrants who are going through a situation of abuse by their citizen fiancé, it is always a good idea to make a report to the police when they have suffered such a crime because it could be helpful in other types of immigration cases.
If the immigrant has suffered domestic abuse, reporting to the police could help greatly with a VAWA case since it must be proven that the person has suffered abuse in a marriage.
There is also a case called the U Visa, which is for victims of crime who have assisted the police in the investigation, and that type of case requires a report to the police.
That is why it would be a good idea for many reasons to do this report depending on the situation between the immigrant and the citizen, however, you should consult with us to see if VAWA would be an option because VAWA requires a marriage.
If this abuse is occurring before there is a marriage, it would not be a good idea to get married now, but there are other options that offer you immigration protection, such as the U Visa program or VAWA Cancellation Of Removal if the immigration case is very strong.
We must investigate to know a little more about the timeline and the situation between that couple to be able to make the most solid strategy in their situation from the legal point of view.