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Phone: 630-932-9100


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Phone: 630-932-9100

How to Marry a US Citizen: K Visas

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Chicago immigration attorney, K visa, permanent residency, lawful permanent residence, undocumented immigrantAn increasing number of people are traveling now than what used to be the case years ago; more people are enjoying other cultures and the people within them. Sometimes, love matches will result. If this does happen to you, you may be able to bring your future spouse to live in the United States with you, assuming you are able to obtain the right visa. While some people marry while abroad and then apply for a family-based immigrant visa, others bring their fiance(e) to the U.S. using a K visa.

What is a K Visa?

A K visa is a specific type of non-immigrant (not immigrant) visa intended for use by people whose entire purpose of coming to the United States on this particular trip is to marry a U.S. citizen. Many couples confuse the K visa with permanent residency, which can cause issues—holders of green cards may travel to and from the U.S. with relative impunity, but this is not the case with any kind of nonimmigrant visa (generally, nonimmigrant visa holders are restricted either to a finite number of entries or to a very short validity period for the visa itself).

There are specific requirements that must be met before a K visa will be issued, but they apply to you, as the U.S. citizen petitioner, rather than to your fiance(e). They are:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen;
  • You can state intent to marry your foreign fiance(e) within 90 days of their entry into the United States;
  • Your marriage will not be bigamous or otherwise invalid (that is, neither of you are already married, and all previous marriages have been terminated either legally or by the death of your spouse); and
  • You have met each other in person at least once within the 2 years prior to filing your petition. This requirement may be waived if you can provide evidence to show that such a meeting would violate “strict and long-established customs” of either your or your fiance(e)’s culture or social practice, or if you can show that forcing this to occur would cause you extreme hardship.

Timing is Critical

It is imperative to remember that a K visa does not grant your fiance(e) the right to stay in the country; rather, it grants one entry for 90 days, during which your marriage ceremony is intended to take place. Once you are married, you may then apply for permanent residence for them at that point.

During the waiting period between application and permanent residence, your new spouse may remain in the country, and may also apply for work authorization, which will generally be granted unless some glaring issue becomes apparent.

If your marriage does not occur within that 90 day timespan, your fiance(e) will then fall out of lawful status and begin to accrue unlawful presence—essentially, becoming undocumented. Thus, it is imperative that your marriage take place within that time frame—if it does not, the only way to avoid potentially negative immigration consequences is for your fiance(e) to leave the country, reapply for another visa, and then try again.

Seek Experienced Immigration Assistance

In a perfect world, a K visa would be a mere formality before two people began a new life together. However, it can cause significant problems if a K visa petition is declined or found wanting. To ensure that all goes well, contacting a passionate Chicago immigration attorney is a good first step. Contact the Chicago offices of Mevorah Law Offices LLC today to set up a free consultation.



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