Applying for a Fiancé Visa? Our Portland Immigration Lawyer is Here to Help

At Vanderwall Immigration, our Portland fiancé visa attorneys are committed to the mission of uniting families through U.S. immigration law. Through a fiancé visa, the future spouse of an American citizen may be able to qualify for a green card. If you have any specific questions or concerns about applying for a fiancé, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us today to set up your fully confidential consultation with a top immigration lawyer.

An Overview of the Requirements for a Fiancé Visa (K-1 Visa)

A K-1 visa is reserved for the foreign national fiance of an American citizen. Through this visa, U.S. Citizens can apply to bring their fiancé to the United States in order to get married in the United States and obtain their lawful permanent residence. It is a relatively common practice and there is no statutory cap on the number of K-1 visas that the federal government can issue each year. For reference, an average of nearly 40,000 K-1 visas are granted nationwide annually. To successfully apply for a K-1 visa, a couple must meet certain immigration law requirements. If you would like to bring your fiancé to the United States, you must show:

  • You (the petitioner) are a U.S. citizen.
  • You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States.
  • You and your fiancé are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition.

Note: There are two exceptions to the rule that the parties must have met in person within the previous two years. Both of these exceptions require a waiver:

  1. If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé’s foreign culture or social practice.
  2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.

Approval is Not Automatic: Why Fiancé Visa Applications are Denied (And How to Prepare)

As there are no set statutory caps on the number of K-1 visas that can be issued, a fiancé visa is an invaluable tool for many couples seeking to unite in the United States. It is one of the most straightforward family immigration paths. While the process may seem simple enough, approval is not guaranteed. There are plenty of K-1 visa applications that are denied each year. Understanding the reasons behind these denials can help you avoid potential pitfalls and increase your chances of a successful application. Here are four common reasons for fiancé visa application denials:

  • Inadequate Documentation: A primary reason for denial is the failure to submit complete and accurate documentation. USCIS requires substantial evidence to establish the bona fide nature of the relationship and the eligibility of both parties. Couples must provide proof that they have met in person within the last two years, have a genuine intention to marry, and are legally free to do so. Incomplete or inconsistent information can raise red flags for immigration officials, so it’s crucial to double-check all forms and documents before submission. Be proactive: An experienced Portland, OR immigration lawyer can help you and your partner put together a strong, well-supported K-1 visa application. 
  • Criminal History or a History of Immigration Violations: Even if the proposed marriage is deemed legitimate and valid, a specific foreign fiancé may be denied entry into the United States. Most often, the reason for such a denial is an alleged criminal history or past immigration violations. It could be crimes of moral turpitude, multiple criminal convictions, previous immigration fraud, or visa overstays. In some cases, a waiver may be available to overcome certain challenges. Our Portland K-1 visa lawyer can help. 
  • Insufficient Financial Support: Here is an essential requirement: The U.S. citizen sponsor must demonstrate their ability to financially support their foreign fiancé. Most often, they will need to prove that they have income or assets that meet or exceed 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines when adjusted for the size of their household size. Notably, if the sponsor does not meet the income requirement, they may use a joint sponsor who meets the criteria or submit additional evidence of assets.
  • Misrepresentation or Fraud (Alleged False Marriage): USCIS is always on the lookout for marriage fraud. A relationship must be deemed legitimate for a K-1 visa to be issued. Any form of misrepresentation or fraud in the application process can lead to denial and severe consequences, even including a lifetime ban from entering the United States.

A Fiancé Visa Can Eventually Lead to United States Citizenship

While not an immediate pathway to United States citizenship, a fiancé visa can be the first step in a multi-stage journey. Upon marrying their U.S. citizen spouse within the required 90-day period, the foreign spouse becomes eligible to apply for an adjustment of status to obtain a green card (permanent residency). Once they have maintained their green card status for at least three years and fulfilled other eligibility requirements, the foreign spouse can apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen. Throughout this process, it is crucial to maintain a genuine, bona fide relationship and comply with all immigration requirements. If you have any special questions or concerns about applying for American citizenship as a K-1 visa holder, our Portland immigration lawyers can help. 

Fiancé Visas: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Fiancé Visa?

A fiancé visa—also referred to simply as a K-1 visa—is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States to marry their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of arrival.

Who is Eligible to Apply for a K-1 Fiancé Visa?

In order to be eligible for a K-1 fiancé visa, a person must be marrying an American spouse. Both parties must be legally free to marry, they must have met in person within the last two years—though a small number of limited exceptions apply—and they must have a genuine intention to marry within the 90-day timeframe.

What is the Timeline—How Long Does it Take to Get a K-1 Visa?

The timeline depends on a few factors, including things like the current pending caseload at USCIS. That being said, it is relatively routine for a fiancé visa application to take somewhere between 6 months and 9 months from start to finish. Of course, it can take longer. A Portland immigration lawyer with K-1 visa experience can help navigate the process in the most efficient way possible. 

Can a Fiancé Visa Holder (K-1) Work in the United States?

Yes—but it is more complicated than that, there are some key things that you should know. Once a person with a K-1 visa is within the United States, they have the right to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). They cannot lawfully work without an EAD. In most cases, it will take several months after a fiance’s arrival in the United States to be approved for an EAD. 

A Couple Does Not Get Married Within the 90 Days—Now What Happens?

If the couple does not marry within the 90-day period, the K-1 visa will expire, and the foreign fiancé(e) must leave the United States. A K-1 visa is a visa issued on the condition of a pending marriage. If that marriage does not happen, the K-1 is no longer valid. Failure to depart may result in deportation and future ineligibility for other U.S. visas.

How Our Portland Immigration Lawyers Can Help with Your Fiancé Visa Case

Immigration law is complicated—fiancé visa applications are no exception. At Vanderwall Immigration, we can help you through the entire fiancé petition process. Once your fiancé is in the United States we can help you to apply for your fiancé’s lawful permanent residence (green card). Our immigration law team is proactive and solutions driven. When you reach out to our office, you will have a chance to consult with a Portland fiancé lawyer who is prepared to: 

  • Hear your story, answer immigration questions, and explain your options. 
  • Gather all of the documents, records, and information you need to apply for a visa. 
  • Help to guide you through all of the fiancé visa paperwork.
  • Take legal action to help you and your future spouse overcome obstacles that might arise. 

Contact Our Portland Fiancé Visa Attorneys Today

At Vanderwall Immigration, our Portland immigration lawyers have the skills and experience to handle all types of fiancé visa matters. We work hard to provide the highest quality of personalized guidance and support to our clients. Call us now or contact us online for a completely confidential, no-obligation initial appointment. From our law offices in Salem and Beaverton, we help clients with fiancé visas in Portland and throughout the wider region in Oregon and Washington.