In this article, we discuss the typical questions regarding fiancé visas and all you need to know when exploring a fiancé visa also known as a K-1 visa. You can feel confident and secure in applying for a fiancé visa after reading this article written by our best fiancé/K-1 visa immigration lawyers. In this guide, we cover these questions:
1. What Is the Fiancé Visa?
A fiancé visa is a short-term visa (nonimmigrant visa). It was created so that a U.S. citizen can sponsor his or her fiancé (or soon-to-be fiancé such as their girlfriend or boyfriend) who is abroad to come to the United States. Once in the United States, you and your fiancé must get married within the first 90 days of your fiancé's entry. This visa is typically the fastest way for the couple to be together, get married, and start the green card (permanent residence) process in the United States. There are many factors to take into consideration including cost, processing times, and the country your fiancé is from.
The fiancé visa is a great option for couples that want to be together as soon as possible and do not want to wait for the green card process via embassies abroad. It is also a wonderful option for those that are interested in getting married, but the process of marriage abroad is difficult or confusing. In this way, the couple can get married in the United States where the requirements are straightforward.
2. Who Qualifies for a Fiancé Visa?
A fiancé visa also known as the K-1 visa allows a U.S. citizen to petition for their fiancé who is abroad in another country. A green card holder cannot sponsor a fiancé via this process; they must get married and apply via the marriage green card process.
3. How Long Does It Take to Get a Fiancé Visa? What Is the Fiancé Visa Timeline?
Many factors affect the processing time of a fiancé visa including conditions at local USCIS offices and wait times for interviews at embassies abroad. As of July 2022, the average processing time is 20 months.
For Middle Eastern countries, the wait can be longer such as for nationals from Iran, Lebanon, etc. Iranian/Persian applicants are typically subject to additional background checks after the interview, which prolongs the wait times. The additional background checks are called administrative processing. Administrative processing does not have an estimated timeline; sometimes it can take many months or even over a year. If the background checks are longer than a year, you have rights and you can file an official complaint to get an answer on the case. This process is called a mandamus action. It is a very effective tool in getting an answer within 60-90 days on a case that has been pending in background checks for more than a year. Our best Persian fiancé visa immigration lawyer can guide you more on strategies if your case gets stuck in background check backlogs.
4. What Are the Requirements for the Fiancé K-1 Visa?
5. How to Apply for a Fiancé Visa? What Is the Process of Applying for a Fiancé Visa?
6. How Much Does a Fiancé Visa Cost?
There are a few costs involved in the fiancé visa process. The USCIS sponsorship petition (I-129F) costs $535. The visa fee is $265. Your fiancé will also need to do a medical exam which ranges between $200 and $500. Attorney’s fees typically range between $3,000 to $5,000.
Once your fiancé comes to the United States, they will apply for adjustment of status, which gives them permanent residency (also known as a green card). The adjustment of status application is a separate legal process from the fiancé visa, but it is something that needs to be done to give your fiancé status in the United States in the long run. The adjustment of status application is $1,225. Again, attorney’s fees for adjustment of status range between $4,000 to $6,000.
7. How Much Money Do I Need to Make to Sponsor My Fiancé on a K-1 Visa? What Is the Income Requirement for a Fiancé Visa?
It all depends on your household size. In other words, how many people are you supporting both as far as those that live with you and those that you support financially who may not live with you such as those that you claim as dependents on your tax return? If it is you and your fiancé only, which is a household size of two, then as of July 2022, you need to make at least $22,887.
If you support more people, you can check the income requirements here (look at the column on the right labeled 125%).
8. Can I Apply for a Fiancé Visa if My Fiancé Is from Iran or Another Muslim-Majority Country?
Yes, of course. That said, there are unique struggles for applicants from countries like Iran and other Muslim-majority countries. For example, an applicant from a Muslim country is typically subject to additional background checks after the interview, which prolongs the wait times. The additional background checks are called administrative processing. Administrative processing does not have an estimated timeline; sometimes it can take many months or even over a year. If the background checks are longer than a year, you have rights. You can file an official complaint to get an answer on the case. This process is called a mandamus action. It is a very effective tool in getting an answer within 60-90 days on a case that has been pending in background checks for more than a year. Our lawyers can help you make strategic decisions during the fiancé visa process to help you navigate the extra hurdles that Middle Eastern applicants face.
Here at ImmigraTrust Law, we have had an amazing success rate with even the most complicated Iranian cases and cases from other Arab and Muslim countries.
We have helped hundreds of clients navigate specific religious, cultural, and national issues that come up during these processes. For example, there are specific considerations when a Muslim person is getting married and wants to obtain a fiancé visa or marriage visa. Another example, many Iranian applicants are faced issues when it comes to their military service such as their service in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or Sepah. Our best Persian immigration lawyers can help you navigate these sensitive issues to strategize about your visa application through the various steps and the agencies that you will encounter.
9. Which Embassy Can Iranians/Persians Apply for a Fiancé Visa? Which Embassy Is the Best? Which Embassy Is Fastest?
There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in Iran; therefore, Iranian/Persian applicants have the option of three nearby countries. The U.S. embassies that interview Iranians for visas are:
Now, choosing which embassy is tricky. The “best” embassy changes constantly. Before COVID, Ankara was the best consulate for processing Iranian cases. The processing times were excellent, and the embassy staff was responsive to case inquiries. However, as of the writing of this article in July 2022, the U.S. Consulate in Ankara is backlogged with applicants waiting for a minimum of a year and a half for an interview to be scheduled. As of the writing of this article in July 2022, Abu Dhabi is the best embassy for Iranians now, but it will likely change. We recommend working with an attorney who is familiar with Iranian and Muslim cases to evaluate current trends and factors when selecting an embassy for your fiancé’s visa interview.
10. What if My Fiancé Whom I Am Sponsoring for a Fiancé Visa Has a Child?
If your fiancé’s child is under 21 years old and unmarried, the child may be eligible to get a K-2 nonimmigrant visa. You must include the child’s name on the I-129F sponsorship form. The child must continue to be under 21 years old and unmarried to be allowed into the United States.
11. Which Is Better a Fiancé Visa or a Marriage Visa? Spouse Visa vs. Fiancé Visa?
It depends on your goals, where your fiancé is from, what embassy you are applying to, etc. Fiancé visas are typically faster to get, meaning that your fiancé usually can come faster to the United States. That said, a fiancé visa is just a visa for entry. Once you go through the entire process of the visa, you must start the green card process from step one and pay new fees.
On the other hand, the marriage visa’s processing times are sometimes only a few months longer than a fiancé visa, but it means that your spouse will have a green card from the get-go. A marriage visa is also overall more cost-effective. However, the downside of the marriage visa is that you must plan to get married abroad and coordinate that process in a foreign country. Also, if you are still getting to know one another, a marriage right now might not make sense.
Here is an article we wrote in detail comparing the fiancé and marriage visa options. For more information, please see the USCIS official page on the fiancé visa.
12. What Are Some Law Services and Immigration Lawyers Near Me for the K-1 Visa?
Here, at ImmigraTrust Law, we serve clients in all 50 states in the United States and even clients who are outside the United States. You do not have to work with an immigration attorney that is in your state.
Our top lawyers at ImmigraTrust Law have won awards such as Avvo’s “Clients’ Choice Awards” for three consecutive years, Avvo’s “Top Contributor Award,” and “Best Immigration Lawyer in Irvine” from Expertise in 2020. Our office is located in Orange County, California, and we represent clients from all 50 states in the United States and even clients located internationally. Our award-winning lawyer is fluent in Farsi/Persian. All of our staff are Persian/Farsi speaking including our lawyer.
We have helped hundreds of couples successfully get fiancé visas and marriage visas. We are considered one of the best fiancé and marriage immigration lawyers in the United States and internationally. We would be happy to help you and your fiancé, wife, or husband navigate the requirements for a fiancé visa or marriage green card application and choose the best option that works for you!
Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our top Iranian-American immigration lawyer, Najmeh Mahmoudjafari J.D., and start your journey with confidence. For more information on this and other immigration topics, please visit our articles page.
--Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, J.D.
Najmeh is the Founder and Lead Immigration Attorney at ImmigraTrust Law (www.ImmigraTrust.com), an immigration law practice in Orange County, California, representing individual and corporate clients in all 50 U.S. States and internationally. Najmeh can be reached at Najmeh@ImmigraTrust.com.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended and does not constitute legal advice. This article does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not provide an attorney/client privilege. For legal advice about your specific case, please contact an attorney.
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