Applying for a fiancé Visa in Chicago: What Are the Requirements?

Navigating the fiancé Visa (K-1) Application Process

Finding someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with is a major accomplishment in this world, and getting married and starting a family is a goal for many. But it can make things logistically difficult if your soon-to-be spouse lives in another country. The United States does offer a path for entry through the K-1 visa, commonly referred to as the fiancé visa. If you’re interested in coming to the United States to marry your fiancé, the immigration attorneys at Gilliam Law can help you through this process.

How the K-1 Visa Works

A fiancé visa allows you to come to the United States for the express purpose of getting married to a U.S. citizen. A K-1 visa expires 90 days after entry to the United States. You will need to apply for an adjustment of status or leave the country and choose another immigration option to be able to live permanently in the United States with a Green Card. A K-1 visa is relatively expensive, with a filing fee of $800 in addition to fees for fingerprinting and biometrics.

Requirements for a fiancé Visa

Obtaining a fiancé visa isn’t just a matter of getting engaged to a U.S. citizen. There are specific eligibility requirements that must be met, and around 20% of fiancé visas are denied each year. Working with an immigration attorney can increase your chances of getting your application accepted. In order to be able to apply for a fiancé visa, you will need to have a qualifying sponsor, a bona fide relationship, and admissibility to the United States.

A Qualifying Sponsor

Before you can apply for a fiancé visa, you must be engaged to a U.S. citizen. Your fiancé must be able to prove their citizenship status through official records, such as a birth certificate or passport. The United States allows same-sex partners to apply for a fiancé visa even if same-sex marriage isn’t legal in the applicant’s country of origin.

Your sponsor must also be able to show that they can financially support you. In general, this means showing proof of an income that is at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If your fiancé has an income lower than this, you may need a joint sponsor to be able to get a visa.

A Bona Fide Relationship

Only those in real relationships and engaged with the purpose and intent to be married are eligible for a fiancé visa. To protect against immigration fraud and ensure that the relationship is legitimate, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office requires proof of your relationship. This can be one of the most difficult parts of applying for a fiancé visa.

The more documentation you have to prove the legitimacy of your relationship, the better. Photographs of your relationship, including those that include your family and friends, can help show that you are in a real relationship. Travel records can also show that you have visited each other in person on a regular basis. Those who have only been together for a short period of time, haven’t spent much time in person, or have a large age difference may be subject to more scrutiny. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you must have met your fiancé in person at least once in the 2 years prior to applying for a fiancé visa.

As part of the process of applying for a fiancé visa, you will be required to go through an interview with an agent from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. During that interview, you will be asked questions about your fiancé and your relationship, such as how you met, important moments in your relationship, and what your plans for marriage are. It’s important to answer these questions as truthfully as possible.

Being Admissible to the United States

To be eligible for the K-1 visa, you must be free to marry, be at least 18 years old, and be admissible to the United States. This includes not having a criminal record that would keep you from being eligible for immigration. You will need to submit a police certificate from your country and any countries you lived in for more than 6 months after you were 16 years old. You must also be outside the United States when you apply.

Timeline to Get Married

Getting your fiancé visa approved is a time for celebration, but it doesn’t mean that you can just stay engaged forever and not worry about actually going through with the marriage. Once your fiancé visa has been approved, you must come to the United States within 6 months of the approval date. Once you are in the country, you then must get married within 90 days. Failure to abide by either of these timelines means that you will lose your K-1 visa status and be subject to removal proceedings. If you anticipate any issues with either of these aspects, it’s important to discuss your situation with an immigration attorney to see if there are any alternatives that might better suit your circumstances.

Being engaged is an exciting time, but wedding planning can be stressful in the best of situations. Adding in dealing with immigration processes and procedures can make this even worse. If you need help understanding whether you qualify for a K-1 fiancé visa or what you need to start the application process, call Gilliam Law at 866-511-3422. Our team handles all areas of immigration law and offers Case Consults so you can understand what we do and how we can help before you pay any money.


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