K Visas: A Reunification Alternative for Boyfriends and Spouses of American Citizens
One of the fundamental precepts, on which US immigration laws are based, is definitely family unification . In this context, the K visa has been created, which is considered a hybrid visa since, even though they are included in the group of non-immigrant visas, they can facilitate the admission of some immigrants to the United States. Once the K visa is approved, the boyfriend or girlfriend will be able to enter as a non-immigrant and later, after fulfilling certain requirements, apply for a permanent residence (g reen card ) in the USA.
K-1 Visa (Boyfriend Visa)
This visa is for American citizens who wish to bring their girlfriends to the US for the purpose of getting married.
To obtain it, the American citizen must submit an application (Form I-129F) to the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. (“USCIS” for its acronym in English). Currently this application has a cost of $ 340.00. Unmarried children of girlfriends who are under 21 years of age can also be included in this application, if they accompany their mothers. The USCIS does not charge extra for the inclusion of minor children.
Form I-129F can only be adjudicated within the U.S. and is currently only processed by the USCIS Service Center located in Dallas, TX.
Once the USCIS approves the I-129F form, it is sent to the National Visa Center (“NVC”). The NVC will send the approved request to the corresponding American Embassy for the consular process. The American Embassy in turn will send an information packet for the bride to fill out, and return. The U.S. government it also requires the bride to undergo a medical examination. Finally, the bride will receive correspondence indicating the date of her interview.
If the girlfriend provided the correct documentation and there were no problems in the interview, then she will receive her visa passport the same day of the interview (in some embassies, the week after the interview), having the power to travel immediately to the United States. USA The bride will receive the K-1 Visa and her minor children will receive the K-2 Visa. K-1 and K-2 visas are valid for a single entry into the U.S. during the six months after the visa.
Once the bride makes use of her K-1 visa and enters the US, she will then have a period of ninety days (without the possibility of extension), to marry and start the Adjustment of Status procedures for a residence permanent. If for some reason the couple does not marry within the established period, the bride will have to leave the United States, or she could be deported. It is necessary to note that the only way that a girlfriend, who entered the US With a K-1 visa, you can modify your status and obtain your residence within the US, it is through a marriage with the American citizen who applied for the visa.
To qualify for the K-1 visa, the wedding couple must meet the following requirements:
- The couple must be legally fit and willing to marry in the United States.
- The couple must have personally seen each other in the last two years; unless they receive a special permit from the US Department of Justice.
- If the American citizen has applied for two or more K-1 visas in the past, or if a K-1 visa application has been approved in the past two years, you will need to apply for special permission for a new K-visa application. one.
The K-3 Visa (Husband Visa)
It is an extension of the K visa that appeared in the year 2000 as a result of the signing of the Immigration and Family Equity Legal Act ( LIFE Act ), and that allows American citizens to bring to the United States. to foreign spouses with family petitions (I-130) ” pending .”
Through the K-3 Visa, the foreign wife legally enters the United States, and hopes that her I-130 family petition will be approved; then you have the option to apply for US residency or in your country of origin. In addition, children of a foreign wife (under the age of 21 and unmarried) can also obtain a K-4 companion visa, which allows them to legally enter the US, with the same rights as their foreign mother.
The requirements to obtain a K-3 visa are the following:
- The American citizen must be married to the foreign wife applying for the K-3 visa;
- The American citizen must send the Family Petition (Form I-130) to the corresponding USCIS, attaching the payment of $ 420.00;
- The American citizen will have to wait for the receipt of the confirmation of sending Form I-130 and attach it to Form I-129F. Once attached, they will have to be sent to the USCIS Service Center. The American citizen will not have to submit any payment for form I-129F.
Once the I-129F application is approved by the USCIS, it will be sent to the NVC and the NVC, in turn, will send it to the American Embassy in the country where the spouses married. If the spouses married within the United States, the application will be sent to the American Embassy of the country where the foreign wife resides.
The American Embassy will proceed in the same way already explained for K-1 visas, and then proceed to the required interview. If everything is in compliance and the I-130 family petition is ” pending” , the K-3 visa will be stamped in the passport and the foreign wife will be able to travel to the US immediately. to reunite with your spouse.
Once in the US, the foreign wife will have to wait until her I-130 family petition (and her son’s, if required) is approved; and then apply for permanent residence. Unlike the K-1 Visa, the K-3 Visa grants foreign spouses the following benefits:
- Possibility of working legally with a work permit.
- Possibility of extending the admission period, and
- Possibility of entering and leaving the US, multiple times.
It is important to note that the K-3 and K-4 Visa are not indefinite ; they are valid for two years, but can be extended by the US government. It is equally important to know that the K-3 and K-4 Visa can be canceled for the following reasons: Denial of the I-130 family petition; Denial of the application for permanent residence; Denial of K-3 Visa extension request; o Divorce of the American citizen. In addition , the K-4 Visa can also be canceled, when the child turns twenty-one years old, marries or if the request of the foreign mother is denied.
If any of these situations occurs, the foreign wife (and accompanying children if required) will have thirty days to leave the United States. Otherwise, the foreign wife would be exposed to deportation.
In the event that the I-130 family petition is approved before the interview for the K-3 visa, the foreign wife will have to do the consular process of immigrant visa residency and abandon the application for a K-3 non-immigrant visa . In this scenario, the K-3 visa would no longer be feasible from the moment the I-130 family petition is no longer ” pending .” Lately I-130 family petitions are being quickly adjudicated by the USCIS and it is for this reason that K-3 visas are not as common as before.