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What Happens After My Fiance Arrives in the U.S.

What happens after my fiancé’s case is approved at the embassy and they come to the United States? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We get this question from time to time. A lot of our fiancé clients are nervous and anxious about what’s going to happen when their noncitizen fiancé comes to the United States. Let’s talk through the process.

After the I-129F is approved at USCIS, the case is set temporarily at the National Visa Center while they arrange at the embassy to set the person’s case for an interview. Now, each embassy does things a little bit differently, and it can be a little bit confusing in that time period between when USCIS approves the case and when the case actually makes it to the embassy. Some cases go almost directly to the embassy, some seem to sort of wait at the National Visa Center. You really have to monitor it, and you have to look at each case differently.

What we do is we make sure that we’re following the case as the case is moved along after it’s approved by USCIS. At that point, you’re going to have to file a DS-160. Once that is complete and the case is set for an interview at the embassy, your fiancé is going to go the interview. It’s relatively short. They basically want to make sure that it’s a legitimate relationship, that the two of you have in fact met each other, and that the foreign national does intend to come to United States and marry the US citizen within 90 days.

They’ll take the person’s passport and either they’ll say, “Come back and pick it up from the embassy,” or “We’ll send it to by courier in the next week or two.” Once that happens and the person comes to the United States, then things start rolling. Now, usually after it’s approved at the embassy, you have four months for the foreign national to come to the United States. That visa stamp is usually good for 120 days. That’s the time frame that your fiancé’s going to have to come to the United States in most cases.

Once they arrive and you’re reunited, it’s obviously a very happy time. Then you have to go ahead and get married. The law says that you have to get married within 90 days. From the date of arrival, you have 90 days to get married and to record it civilly with the local government. Then, at that point, you file for adjustment of status based off the approved fiancé visa and the marriage.

You’re going to submit all the same forms you would normally submit with an I-485. The 485 is the application to adjust status. Then you’re going to have to file for the travel document, the work card. That’s how you get that process started. It goes off to USCIS. At that point, it takes about eight or nine months for that process to be approved. You will get that work card and travel card temporarily. While the green card is pending, that’ll come four months after you file. If you do everything correctly, if you get your fingerprints done, and then eventually you’re going to get that green card.

Now, lately we’ve been seeing an uptick in the number of fiancé interviews. There are rules that allow the service center to waive an interview for the fiancé and the US citizen. Then it’s also allowed at the local level, so that you really have two shots of having that interview waived. In other words, there’s a good chance that you might not have an interview, but lately we’ve seeing more and more of these interviews. In those situations, you have to demonstrate again that the person is a good person and deserving of a green card. You have to demonstrate that the relationship is real.

I would say that right now in about 20% of the cases, we’re seeing that there is an interview with the fiancé and the US citizen. I think a little bit of that is random and I think a little bit of profiling. They want to figure out if they see something about the case that they’re worried about or something that they don’t like, then you’re going to see a situation with an interview. I would suggest that if you do do all that and you get an interview notice that you wouldn’t want to go without an attorney. There’s something that they’re looking at in your case, and I think that’s important to keep in mind.

One important thing about a K-1 visa that sometimes gets neglected is that when you come on a fiancé visa, if a foreign national arrives on a fiancé visa, the only way that they can adjust their status, virtually the only way, is if they marry that US citizen. The K-1 is sort of a strange visa. It’s a non-immigrant visa, but everybody knows you’re coming to stay, which means you’re coming to immigrate to the United States.

The rule says that if you come on a K-1, there’s no other way for you to get your green card and that you have to do it based on that marriage. If you don’t, in most situations you’re going to have to go home. The only way you’d be able to stay is if you got sort of obscure visa based on domestic violence or witnessing a crime or some other really extreme way of staying, perhaps an asylum claim. The K-1 rules are strict, and you’re not going to be able to get a green card unless you do in fact marry that US citizen and that US citizen files to help you get the adjustment.

If you have any questions about the K-1 fiancé visa, about what to do after your fiancé case is approved, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, please make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ve got a good number subscribers. Now we put our content on there on a pretty regular basis. If you can share this on social media, Facebook, or wherever, we’re really appreciate it. Thanks a lot, and have a good day.

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