Green Card Through Marriage
It may surprise people to learn that around 21% of married couples in the United States consist of one spouse who is not originally from the country. These couples, comprised of an American citizen and a foreigner, often have the desire to live together in the US after getting married. To accomplish this, they commonly pursue a specialized visa known as the K visa. It is essential to understand that there are multiple types of K visas available, each with its own specific requirements and advantages. At Goldstein Immigration, our team of K-3 and K-1 visa lawyers acknowledges that love transcends borders, while also recognizing the importance of being well-informed about the process of marrying someone from another country and the necessary steps to obtain US citizenship. Our devoted team is here to support you throughout this intricate journey, assisting you in navigating the complexities of immigration law. We are committed to ensuring that you and your loved one can build a future together in the United States. Contact a K3 or K-1 visa lawyer near you today to learn more about obtaining citizenship via marriage.
K-1 Fiance Visa - What Is It?
The K-1 fiancé visa offers a pathway for U.S. citizens who are engaged to marry a foreign citizen or considering marriage. This visa enables the U.S. citizen to bring their fiancé to the United States for a 90-day period. During this time, the foreign fiancé must decide to either marry a U.S. citizen or return to their home country.
It is important to understand that there is no legal obligation for the couple to proceed with the marriage if they choose not to. However, if they decide to tie the knot, the foreign spouse must apply for permanent resident status in order to continue living in the United States. To qualify for a K-1 visa, both parties must meet the eligibility requirements for marriage, and the intended marriage must be legally recognized in the United States.
Generally, the engaged couple must have met in person within the past two years, although exceptions may be granted in cases of extreme hardship. Additionally, under the K-4 visa, the unmarried minor children of the foreign fiancé can accompany them to the U.S. If you need assistance with the K-1 visa application process, it is advisable to seek guidance from an experienced K-1 visa lawyer, particularly one who specializes in immigration cases. Our team of K-1 visa lawyers’ expertise can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of the process and ensuring a smooth journey toward building a life together in the United States.
K-3 Visa - Is It A Spouse Visa?
Alongside the K-1 visa designed for fiancés, there is an alternative visa option known as the K-3 visa, specifically available for spouses of U.S. citizens. The enactment of the Legal Immigration and Family Equality Act (LIFE Act) expanded the scope of K visas to include spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens residing abroad. To acquire a K-3 visa, the American spouse must have previously submitted an I-130 immigrant petition. Once the receipt notice for the I-130 is received from USCIS, the U.S. citizen spouse can then file the I-129F to initiate the application process for the K-3 visa.
Similar to the K-1 visa, the K-3 visa provides nonimmigrant status, resulting in generally faster processing compared to an immigrant visa application. It allows the foreign spouse to reside in the United States while awaiting approval of the immigrant visa application. Once in the U.S., the spouse can apply for permanent resident status at any time. Under the K-4 visa, unmarried children under the age of 21 and dependent on the K-3 visa holder can accompany them to the United States.
It is essential to understand that the K-3 visa is valid for a duration of two years. However, in the event of a divorce prior to the approval of the immigrant spouse's application for permanent residence, the K-3 visa will be terminated 30 days after the divorce is finalized. If you have any inquiries or concerns regarding the K-3 and K-4 visas, seeking guidance and assistance from an immigration attorney specializing in this field can prove invaluable.
K-4 Children Visa
The K-4 visa is specifically designed for minor children of K-3 visa holders who intend to accompany their parents and establish residence in the United States. Unmarried children who are under the age of 21 are eligible to apply for the K-4 visa, enabling them to enter the country alongside their parents who hold K-3 visas.
In terms of duration and termination, the K-4 visa follows the same guidelines as the K-3 visa. It remains valid for a period of two years or until the child turns 21, whichever occurs earlier. It is important to be aware that if the child enters into marriage, the K-4 visa will expire within 30 days from the date of the marriage ceremony.
Do K Visas Apply To LGBTQ+ Marriages?
If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and a US citizen engaged to marry someone of the same gender, you have the same eligibility as any other couple to file a fiance petition (Form I-129F) and pursue a K visa. The K-1 visa allows you and your partner to enter the U.S. with the intention of getting married within 90 days. After marriage, your partner, regardless of their gender, can apply for a green card through the adjustment of status process.
If your marriage is less than two years old at the time of green card approval, the permanent residency granted will be conditional. It is crucial to file an I-751 petition to remove the conditions on residency before the expiration of the green card.
In some cases, LGBTQ+ foreign nationals may need to consider filing an I-601 or I-601A immigration waiver if they encounter specific challenges like:
- Criminal convictions
- Unlawful presence
These waivers require demonstrating extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative. Following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), LGBTQ+ married couples can use their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse as the qualifying relative for waiver purposes. Seeking guidance from a K visa lawyer experienced in LGBTQ immigration cases can be beneficial during the application process for immigration waivers.
Green Cards Aren’t The Only Immigration Option For LGBTQ+ Couples
It is important to remember that obtaining a green card through marriage is not the sole immigration option available to LGBTQ+ couples. For instance, same-sex married partners of Diversity Immigrant Visa (Green Card Lottery) winners can be sponsored for permanent residency. Similarly, same-sex spouses of Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa holders can apply for derivative status (E visa) and obtain work permits. LGBTQ+ individuals can also accompany their spouses on H-1B temporary work visas through the derivative status of H-4 visas. Additionally, L-2 visa status is available for LGBTQ+ spouses of L-1 visa holders. Exploring these options with the assistance of a K visa lawyer can help LGBTQ+ couples determine the best path for their immigration needs.
Applying For A K Visa - What’s The Process?
The process of obtaining a K visa in the United States requires careful attention to detail and thoroughness. Our team of experienced K visa lawyers is ready to provide you with the necessary guidance and support throughout the application process, which encompasses the following essential steps:
- Preparing Forms and Filing the Petition - The initial step involves completing the required forms, such as Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)). This form establishes the relationship between the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign fiancé(e) or spouse.
- Applying for the Visa - Once the petition is prepared, it will be submitted for review by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, the case will be forwarded to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate for further processing.
- Assembling Supporting Documentation - Alongside the petition, various supporting documents need to be gathered to demonstrate the validity of the relationship. These may include photographs, communication records, and evidence of in-person meetings. Our legal team will assist you in gathering and organizing all the necessary documentation.
- Completing the Medical Exam and Vaccinations - The foreign fiancé(e) or spouse must undergo a comprehensive medical examination conducted by an authorized physician. This examination ensures compliance with the health requirements for entry into the United States, including obtaining any required vaccinations.
- Providing Evidence of Financial Support - To ensure that the foreign fiancé(e) or spouse will not rely on public assistance, evidence of a reliable financial support source must be provided. Typically, this is accomplished through the submission of Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) or Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support).
- Paying Required Fees - The K visa application process involves specific fees, including the filing fee for the petition and the visa processing fee. It is important to follow the instructions provided by USCIS and the U.S. embassy or consulate regarding the payment of these fees.
A K visa lawyer at one of our immigration law offices across the United States will be well-equipped to handle the completion of forms and the organization of documentation required for your K visa application. At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our team is committed to diligently managing your case, keeping you informed about your status, and ensuring the smooth and efficient processing of your application.
Contact A K Visa Lawyer Near You
If you're in the process of obtaining a K visa and want to ensure a smooth and successful experience, it's essential to have the guidance of an experienced K visa attorney right from the start. At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we recognize the significance of getting it right on the first attempt since denials at U.S. Consular posts are typically non-reviewable and non-appealable. Our dedicated team can help you avoid irremediable issues and complications that may arise due to inadequately documented marriage visas.
A refusal or an ambiguous "refusal" under § 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) can lead to substantial delays, leaving your marriage visa mired in immigration bureaucracy for months or even years. With our K visa lawyers' extensive experience in handling such intricate situations, we can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to overcome any challenges you may encounter.
Take the worry out of the marriage visa process by reaching out to our knowledgeable K Visa lawyers at Goldstein Immigration Lawyers today. With office locations spread across the United States, our team is fully prepared to assist you in navigating the complexities of the K visa application and ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Don't leave your future to chance—contact us now for trusted legal representation you can rely on.