Any U.S. citizen can sponsor a visa application for an immediate family member who lives overseas. Immediate family member means a spouse, minor child under 21, or a parent. This visa category can be issued without regard to the annual quota or limit on other family sponsored visas provided that the U.S. citizen who applies on behalf of an immediate family member meets the residency and financial requirements for sponsorship. There are several methods for filing this type of visa and each case should be reviewed on an individual basis. Please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your options and optimal strategy if this situation applies to you.
A K-1 Visa for a fiancé:
A US citizen may be able to bring his/her overseas fiancé(e) to the U.S. prior to getting married pursuant to a K-1 visa. In order to qualify, the sponsor and his/her fiancé(e) must show proof that they have met in person at least once prior to the fiancé(e)’s arrival in the US. The petition for a K-1 is processed initially with the appropriate US Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS) Service Center with final processing completed at the US Embassy/Consulate abroad where the fiancé(e) appears for an interview with the Consular officer. Once the fiancé(e) arrives in the United States, the couple MUST marry within 90 days of entry, otherwise the fiancé(e) has violated his/her nonimmigrant visa status. It cannot be extended or re-generated without a return abroad.
K-3 and K-4 Visas for a spouse and children:
A US citizen with an overseas spouse or child may be able to bring his/her family to the US under this temporary visa, prior to issuance of a more formal US Resident Alien status. The beneficiary must be married, and children (K-4 Visa) either (i) must be born to the US citizen prior to the time the sponsor became a U.S. citizen, (ii) adopted before the age of 16, or (iii) a stepchild when the marriage to the biological parent took place and before the child was 18 years old.
These K-3/K-4 petitions MUST BE processed by a US CIS Regional Service Center and later completed at the US Embassy/Consulate abroad where the foreign national was married to the US citizen (note, this is different from the place of current residence). If the marriage took place in the US, then the interview can be held in the foreign national’s country of residence. K-3/K-4 Visas are valid for 2 years. Foreign nationals have the option of processing the final Resident Alien status within the US or at the US Embassy/Consulate abroad. Please note, the 3 and 10-year bars to U.S. entry can still apply to family members who have spent significant time in the US while out of status.