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3 things you should know about the K1 visa

Are you a citizen of the United States who wants to marry someone who is still residing in a foreign country? If so, your intended spouse may be eligible for a K1 "fiance" visa.

The K1 visa allows your intended spouse 90 days to legally reside in the U.S., during which the marriage has to be performed in order for the visa to be converted, allowing your spouse to stay.

It sounds easy enough, right? Hold on. There are a few things that you should know that could make the process more complicated.

-- The government generally wants more than just your assurance that you intend to get married. Be prepared to explain where the wedding will be and who is officiating. You may not be able to set a date until you know the K1 has been approved, but you can talk to the venue and officiant ahead of time. That way Immigration has some assurance that you are serious. If you're going to get married at the courthouse, make sure you know the procedure at your chosen courthouse and how long it takes to get an appointment with the judge.

-- The law requires the couple to meet at least once in the previous two years prior to application for the K1. This help protect against sham marriages.

However, there is a little bit of leeway for people who come from cultural backgrounds where arranged marriages are common and husbands and wives don't traditionally meet prior to the wedding. In that case, be prepared to explain who did meet to broker the wedding and their relationship to you and your intended spouse.

-- If you are related by blood to your intended spouse, which is common in some countries, you'll have to show that you aren't violating the laws of the state in which you intend to marry. For example, first cousins are permitted to marry in Rhode Island but they aren't in many other states.

An immigration law attorney can provide you with more information on help getting your intended spouse a K1 visa.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Fiance(e) Visas," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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