Fiance visa, also known as K-1 visa, allows the engaged foreign partner of a US citizen to enter the United States. This is the most common pathway for the foreign partner to obtain a ‘green card’ or permanent residency in the United States. The couple, however, must get married within 90 days after the arrival of the foreign partner.
I’m sure you’ll have plenty of questions. What does fiance mean? How long will you process fiance visa in 2019? Can an international student in the US change student visa to fiance visa? We’ll answer these questions here.
What is a fiance?
Don’t get confused about the terms. Originally, the term ‘fiancée’ refers to the engaged female partner, whereas ‘fiancé’ refers to the engaged male partner. However, for simplicity’s sake, the term ‘fiancé’ or ‘fiance’ are interchangeably used to refer to either a male or female, US citizen or foreign, engaged partner.
According to the US immigration law, here’s the list of criteria a foreign partner should follow to be an eligible ‘fiance’ who can enter the state:
- Foreign citizen
- Legally free to marry according to the federal laws of the US and during the time of the petition
- Has an intent of marriage
- Has an in-person meeting with the US citizen partner (at least once every two years)
These are just a few of the foreign fiance requirements. For more information about eligibility requirements, you may check the other legal descriptions of ‘fiance’ on the site of the US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs.
How long does it take to process K-1?
The entire process takes at least eight months. This length of time starts from the Form I-129F filing date until the time when the US consulate receives your relevant documents. Most of your waiting time will be spent on the I-129F approval, which may take around five to 13 months alone.
The US consulate or embassy, on the one hand, consume two to three month to manage and complete your visa processing. You may check your case’s processing time on the USCIS website. Go to egov.uscis.gov/processing-times page. Unlike in other visa categories, you can’t pay more to get a premium or faster K-1 visa petition processing.
International students in the US: Can I apply for K-1 to extend my stay in the state?
Typically, K-1 visas can be tricky. We advise you to seek professional help. An immigration lawyer is expensive, but this is what you need here. Alternatively, you may have a consultation from immigration agencies and trusted sites, such as visa coach. We’ve got you covered too, though. The following are a few heads-up that you need to consider.
Before anything else, we need to consider your visa—student visa. Student visa holders can marry US citizens during their stay in the state. That, however, doesn’t mean that an international student in the US is immediately qualified or eligible to get a green card or a permanent resident status.
Let’s say you’re an international student in America. You married a US citizen during your study in the state. You don’t have to worry about going back and forth from your home country to the US, or vice versa. You can go back to your home country and re-enter America. But, here’s the catch.
Your passport should still have a valid VISA stamp, and your DS-2019 or I-20 is signed by OIS for travel. More importantly, you still have to continue studying as a full-time student, regardless of your marriage.
Things may get worse if you filed I-485 or the Application to Register Permanent Residence or adjust status so you can be a permanent resident in America. Even your student visa isn’t yet expired; there’s a big possibility that you’ll be denied for re-entry into the United States.
This is because student visas are not “dual intent” visas. While you can get married, you can’t have the intent to be a permanent resident whenever you apply for a green card. The home residency requirement is one of the ways of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to encourage temporary stay.
Moving on, let’s answer the highlighted question: “can I apply for K-1 to extend my stay in the state?” as an international student in the US. That depends. If you’re married already, you don’t need K-1. Again, it’s only for soon-to-be-spouse.
If you’re not yet married with your fiance, you have to go home and apply for K-1 in your country. Then, when you arrive in the US, that’s the perfect time to get married and apply for permanent residency. Needless to say, due to unmentioned circumstances, some points here might be contradicting to your status. Again, it’s best to consult a professional for this.