US Immigration: K-1 Fiancée Visa
What you and your Russian Bride Need to Know, Do, and Avoid!
Fortunately US immigration doesn't need to be a complicated process. And it's possible, under current regulations, for you and your spouse to file for immigration papers either before or after your marriage.
The processes are fairly straight-forward and you don't necessarily need to hire a lawyer, provided you take the time to read through instructions and supply the necessary evidence (photographs, travel receipts, letters from friends and family, leases and utility bills, bank statements, etc) to demonstrate your marriage is bona fide.
There are two immigration options open to you and your Russian bride.
K-1 Fiancée Visas
A K-1 visa is for foreign fiancées and, as this suggests, they are issued to foreigners who are engaged and therefore can demonstrate intention to marry a US citizen within 90 days of entering the United States. There is also a K-2 visa category for the unmarried children under 21 of a foreigner to whom a K-1 visa is issued.
K-3 Spouse Visas
The K-3 visa is issued to foreigners who are married to US citizens. These visas are commonly referred to as K-3 Spouse visas. For unmarried children under 21 of K-3 visa holder there is the K-4 visa.
It is important to note that your Russian wife must apply for her K-3 visa in whichever country you were married in. If you were married in England, for example, even if your wife is a Russian citizen and resident, she must file for her K-3 visa at the London Embassy.
Filing and Processing: How to Get Your Visa
The processes for obtaining either K-1 or K-3 visas are relatively similar. They both begin with the filing of a petition by the US citizen, who in this case is the fiancé or husband. The fiancé or husband files a petition in the United States, at his local immigration office, indicating the embassy abroad at which his bride will file their application and go for an interview once the petition is approved.
The home page for the United State Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis. Here you can find most of the information and forms that you'll need for your visa application. You can also find the latest fees and processing times for applications and you can check the status of your bride's case by entering the thirteen digit case number you'll receive on the receipt of your petition.
For K-1 or K-3 (and K-2 and K-4) visas you'll file form I-129f, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). With the I-129F form you will submit proof of your US citizenship, such as your birth certificate or passport, a G-325A for you and for your bride, a color photograph of you and one of your bride, a copy of any divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment decree if either you or your bride was previously married, and proof of permission to marry if you or your bride are subject to any age restrictions. If you and your Russian bride are already married and thus filing for a K-3 visa, you'll also need to send a copy of your marriage certificate with your application.
Expect to wait between six to eight weeks for the petition to be processed and approved. You can always check up on the status of your bride's case by calling the USCIS Customer Service (1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833) or going online with your application receipt number.
Once you receive notice of approval at your US address, your bride can also expect to receive notice to attend an interview at her local US Embassy (or, for a K-3 Visa, the US Embassy of the country in which you were married). At the interview, your wife will be asked to complete an application form to complete the process. Visas are often issued on the day of the interview, although some embassies prefer to mail visa documents.
Once your bride receives her visa, she is eligible to travel to the US, and, once in the US, if your bride had a K-1 visa, you have ninety days to get married. The next step, once you are married, is for your bride to file for a green card at the local USCIS office. You'll receive information about this with your K-1 or K-3 petition and application.
The Final Steps: Adjusting Status
To complete your Russian bride's immigration process, once she is in the US, she'll file the I-485 Form, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status, along with the necessary supplementary forms. These will include a copy of your approved K-1 or K-3 visa petition and, if you filed for a K-1 visa, a copy of your marriage certificate. Your wife can also file for Employment Authorization by submitting Form I-765.
You should expect to wait a couple of months for the final paperwork to come through. After that, your wife is a conditional permanent resident of the United States. Congratulations! In two years, closing on the second anniversary of your wife receiving her conditional residency status, you can file a joint petition to have the conditional status removed, form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence.
If you observe the requirements for the applications and take the time to get your forms right first time, you and your Russian bride will be free to enjoy your life together without any intrusion whatsoever from the USCIS.
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