BY: NILÜFER LEUTHOLD
The immigration system in the US is complex and puzzling; welcome to the world of bureaucracy! Adding the uncertainty of military life and you might be overwhelmed. However, relax! I will walk you through the process.
Keep in mind that this information is based on personal experiences and personal research of USCIS processes. Each case if different, and you should always be prepared to do excessive research on your own.
I immigrated on a K-1 Visa. Fiancé(e) or K-1 Visa is a non-immigration visa that allows a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S citizen to travel to the US for the purpose of marrying the petitioner (sponsor) within 90 days upon his/her arrival.
The 90-day window gives you the chance to plan an amazing wedding ceremony with your servicemember! However, if you fail to get married within 90 days, you will have to leave the Unites States.
Steps to Get K-1 Visa
· The US citizen petitioner (your servicemember) files Form I-129F and Form G-325A. You can find a link to these documents here. Make sure to carefully read the instructions on how to fill in the forms. You want to get it right on the first time!
· The petitioner also has to pay the visa petition fee $535. Yikes! More on immigration expenses here.
· After receiving the petition, USCIS will review the file for any missing documents, and send the petitioner acknowledgment receipt of the petition. During this time, the USCIS will send the fiancé some visa forms to be filled out and returned. After it has been approved the embassy will require additional proof of relationship, documents, photographs, + asking you to get a medical exam by an approved physician.
· If it all works out fine, you will be scheduled for an interview at the US consulate or embassy.
· After the issuance of K-1 visa, the foreign fiancé can enter the US. The visa is valid for 6 months from the date it was issued, and the marriage must happen within 90 days after you enter the US.
The entire process from start to finish may take a few months. Always keep in mind that when it comes to immigration processes, there isn’t a set deadline. Each case is different and each embassy has a different work load. Try to stay calm if the process is taking longer than you thought it would. My best advice: avoid having your hopes up for a certain date and be prepared to be flexible!
· Your go-to address should always be the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) website. The website provides forms of which you use in each step, and information on military-connected immigration processes.
· A website that I have found out to be extremely helpful for me as a foreign spouse is www.visajourney.com
· After entering the US with a K-1 visa you will be eligible to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) if you have a valid I-94.
Fiancé(e) or K-1 Visa is a non-immigration visa that allows a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S citizen to travel to the US for the purpose of marrying the petitioner (sponsor) within 90 days upon his/her arrival.
The 90-day window gives you the chance to plan an amazing wedding ceremony! However, if you fail to get married within 90 days, you will have to leave the Unites States.
Once you are married, the next step is to apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS) which makes you a lawful permanent resident - also known as a Green Card Holder. You can read about this process on our resources page.