As we discussed in detail in a prior article, there is a specific process you must go through if you are a United States citizen engaged to someone who lives in another country and you want to get married here so he or she can become a permanent resident. The process begins when you, as the U.S. citizen, file Form I-129F to demonstrate that you and your fiancé(e) are in a “real” relationship and request a K-1 visa for him or her.
But that’s just the beginning. In all, there are 12 steps to this process. We’ll give a general overview and then look at each one in depth.
The stages after you file the I-129F are:
- Receipt of the first Notice of Action or NOA 1
- Receipt of the second Notice of Action 2 or NOA2
- Following approval, submission of your case to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC)
- Upon successful security clearance, submission of the K1 visa petition to the Bureau of Consular Affairs and U.S. Embassy in your fiancé(e)’s country
- Receipt of the Embassy Letter
- Organization of required documents
- Mandatory medical exam
- Embassy Interview
- Issuance of visa
- Travel to U.S.
You’ll get the NOA1 a few weeks after you send Form I-129F and supporting documents to the USCIS. This is simply an official letter advising you that the agency has received your petition, so you don’t have to do anything at this point.
In the sixth step, the Embassy will notify your fiancé(e) by mail about when and how to make an appointment for the mandatory medical appointment and interview. As the U.S. citizen, you are not required to go to the Embassy for the interview.
By this point, you are halfway through the entire process. All that your fiancé(e) has to do at this time is furnish certain documents in accordance with the Embassy’s instructions.
Next, your fiancé(e) must have the mandatory medical exam, which must be done by a doctor selected from a list provided by the Embassy. He or she should be sure to bring his or her vaccination immunization records, any prior chest x-rays, copies of his or her past medical records and passport, identity card, and/or applicable travel document(s) to the appointment. He or she must also pay for the medical exam at this point.
Assuming the medical exam does not yield evidence of any illness or other condition that would preclude your fiancé(e) from coming to the United States, the next step is the Embassy interview.
Your presence at this point is not required, and whether or not you, as the U.S. citizen will be allowed to attend the interview for “moral support” depends on each Embassy’s policies.
In any case, the purpose of this interview is to determine whether you and your fiancé(e) are involved in a genuine relationship and you are not seeking the K-1 visa in an effort to defraud the U.S. government. To do so, the consular officer will ask him or her several detailed questions about your relationship. In most cases, he or she Here are some examples:
- What is your fiancé(e)’s name?
- What does your fiancé(e) like to do in his or her free time?
- Describe your fiancé(e)’s car.
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- What does your fiancé(e) do for a living?
- How much doe he/she earn?
- What are your fiancé/e’s parent’s names?
- Did you know that your fiancé(e) was divorced?
- Where do you plan to live in the United States?
- When and how did you and your fiancée meet?
- Does your fiancé(e) speak and understand your language?
- Do you speak and understand his or her language?
- Are you a terrorist?
- What are your other names?
- What was the last gift your fiancée gave you?
- How does your family feel about the engagement?
- Why did you decide to marry in the USA rather than in your country?
- Who proposed?
- Do you have any family in the USA?
- Did your fiancé(e) go to college? If so, where?
- What color are your fiancé/e’s eyes?
If there are no obvious signs of deception, and the consular officer concludes your relationship is genuine, your fiancé(e) may get his or her K-1 visa straight away. More often than, not, however, there is a brief wait before the visa (a self-adhesive sticker that is placed in your fiancé/e’s passport) is delivered. Once your beneficiary has the K-1 visa, you can arrange for him or her to come to the United States.
In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at what happens next. In the meantime, let’s address some of the most common questions regarding K-1 visa processing. One of the most common questions regarding this process is, “how long does it take?” Because each case is different, the answer is, “it depends.”
Until this year (2018) the entire process took roughly five to six months. Now, with heightened emphasis on U.S. immigration policies and resulting bureaucracy, it takes at least six to nine months. And that’s only if there aren’t any complications with the petition and/or processing.
Here are some of the issues that can cause complications and delays:
- The country where the visa application is processed
- Requests for additional information
- Backlogs at USCIS
- The completeness and accuracy of information in the petition
- Unexpected circumstances, such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism or armed conflicts
Another common question, is “how much does it cost?” In general, you and your fiancé(e) can expect to spend $1,200 to $5,000. This includes:
- USCIS Filing Fee – $535
- Embassy Fee – $265
- Medical Exam – $60-$300
- Travel Expenses – (Vary)
- Legal costs — (Vary)
- Miscellaneous costs — Including expenses incurred for translation services, finding and copying required documents, and so forth
As the petitioner/sponsor, you may also be concerned about the circumstances in which a K-1 visa is denied. Your fiancé(e) will not get a K-1 Visa if he or she:
- Has committed serious and/or violent crime(s)
- Is a drug addict
- Has a contagious disease other than HIV.
- Has a dangerous physical or mental disorder
- Is likely to require financial assistance and access to entitlement programs
- Has engaged in fraud otherwise entered the United States illegally
Clearly, this is a long and complicated process for someone without the necessary expertise. With your future, and happiness, at stake it is important to consult a qualified legal professional. At ZontLaw, our skilled and experienced immigration attorneys are fully prepared to provide the assistance needed to make this experience as easy as possible for you and your fiancé(e), so don’t hesitate. Contact us today.
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