K-1 Visa Overview

By David Ionson

K-1 visas are used to allow non-resident individuals to enter the U.S. and get married. While the K-1 does not automatically give the person a legal right to live here, it can be a first step toward gaining residence status. If you wish to marry a non-U.S. resident, consult with an immigration law firm in Cambridge to determine whether the K-1 visa is appropriate in your circumstances.

Qualifying for the K-1 Visa

The U.S. State Department does not currently limit the number of annual entrants into the country on K-1 visas. While this is certainly good news to prospective applicants, certain criteria must be met in order to qualify for a K-1:

One of the marrying individuals must be a U.S. citizen. It is not enough that he or she be a permanent resident.

Both are of legal age for marriage and are single.

The couple must show that the non-resident truly intends to marry the other once in the country. This can be proven in a number of ways, such as providing evidence of preparations for the wedding. An immigration law firm in Cambridge can help if the couple is having difficulty meeting this step.
The couple must have actually met, and must show that they have spent time together within the last two years.

The K-1 as a Step toward Permanent Resident Status

It is important to emphasize that approval of a K-1 does not give resident status to the foreign national spouse. Once married, he or she can stay in the U.S., but only by applying for a green card. The time constraints are tight, however: a K-1 only remains in effect for 90 days. Thus, the couple should marry soon after the K-1 goes into effect so that the non-resident spouse has sufficient time to file for a green card

While the foreign national spouse must apply for a green card to remain here, he or she may be able to apply for a work permit immediately upon arriving. Children of the non-resident may enter on a K-2 visa.

If you need help with matters pertaining to a K-1 or have another immigration concern please contact an immigration attorney.

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