There are several ways that foreign-born nationals can live and work in the United States. Some choose to use their employment or a significant investment, while others go through their immediate family members or may be seeking asylum. However, one valuable way to immigrate to the U.S. is through your fiance or spouse. Here, we’ll go over the major marriage visas and green cards and how you can apply for one.
Types of Nonimmigrant Marriage Visas
The nonimmigrant visas that have to do with marriage are found in the K category. These visas serve as temporary placeholders as you wait for your green card. The four categories in the K classification include:
- K-1 fiancé(e) visa – this visa is designed only for the fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens. According to immigration law, someone counts as a fiancé(e) only if the U.S. citizen intends to marry the foreign national within 90 days of his or her entry into the U.S.
- K-2 visa – this one is for the children of a foreign national fiancé(e) who is under K-1 status. They will be under this nonimmigrant status only until their statuses are adjusted and they can receive green cards.
- K-3 visa – this visa is meant for the foreign-born spouses of U.S. citizens. If the citizen sponsor has filed an I-130 for a marriage-based green card, the alien spouse can use the K-3 visa to remain in the U.S. while awaiting the decision.
- K-4 visa – If your K-3 spouse has children coming with him or her, they can stay in the U.S. under K-4 status. The only caveat is that, if the child is the step-child of the U.S. citizen sponsor, then the marriage will have to have taken place before the child turned 18 in order for him or her to qualify for K-4 status.
Fortunately, foreign aliens can apply for employment authorization documents (EAD) while under K status. Keep in mind that missing the 90-day mark for the wedding date, you will violate your K-1 or K-2 status. Similarly, if you get divorced or have your marriage annulled, then the K-3 and K-4 statuses will be void. In these cases, the foreign fiance, spouse, or children must depart the U.S. or be considered “out of status”.
Marriage Visa Application Process
For the K-1 and K-2 visas, the U.S. citizen sponsor needs to file an I-129F petition for their foreign fiancé(e). The fiancé(e) is not able to petition for his or her self. If the petition is approved, the fiancé(e) will need to go to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy located in his or her home country. There, they will need to participate in a one-on-one interview with a consular officer to ensure that your relationship is legitimate.
If you pass the interview, then the fiancé(e) will be given their K-1 visa along with any K-2 visas necessary for accompanying children. When the U.S. citizen sponsor and the foreign fiancé(e) have gotten married, the sponsor can then immediately file an I-130 for a marriage-based green card.
For the K-3 and K-4 visas, the I-129F petition can only be filed after the I-130 has been filed on behalf of the immigrant spouse. Additionally, you do not need to file a separate petition for the K-4 dependents.
Marriage-Based Green Cards
For foreign-born spouses to live and work permanently in the U.S., the marriage-based green card is required. The nonimmigrant visas listed above are only temporary placeholders as you wait for the green card to be approved. To file, the U.S. citizen sponsor must submit an I-130 petition with the USCIS and wait for approval. Fortunately, even if the wait is long, your fiancé(e) or spouse will be able to stay in the U.S. under the K-1 or K-3 visa. Additionally, he or she will be able to work through an EAD card. Speak with your immigration attorney to make the transition as smooth as possible.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
No one wants to be separated from their fiancé(e) or spouse, even for a short time during the immigration process. That’s why hiring an immigration attorney is essential to a successful and smooth process. To ensure that you save both time and money, turn to experts you can trust.
Here at SGM Law Group, we handle everything concerning your marriage visa process. From filing the required petitions to preparing you for the consular interview, our dedicated team of experienced attorneys are ready to help you and your spouse live happy lives in the U.S.
To get in touch with one of our attorneys, you can fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation today.