Applying For K1 Visa For Your Same-Sex Fiance
A recent Supreme Court decision has made it possible for U.S. citizens to petition for their foreign same-sex fiance. This is a pretty big deal because before 2013, you couldn’t apply for a the K1 visa unless you were heterosexual.
The process is exactly the same for same-sex couples as it is for straight couples.
One thing you should keep in mind though is that even if the federal government allows gay marriage, the state that you live in may still strict it down as unlawful.
You’ll need to make sure that the state you get married in allows same-sex marriage. Thankfully, you are still allowed to petition for the K1 visa if you live in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage.
The K1 visa may be your best option if your foreign fiance’s country still doesn’t recognize or allow same-sex marriage.
Karl is a U.S. citizen that met his boyfriend Marco in Costa Rica on a vacation. They quickly fell in love and Karl wants to bring Marco to Texas to live with him and eventually get married.
After Karl proposed, he quickly filed the I-129F petition for Marco. Since Costa Rica doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, Karl and Marco thought it would be best to marry in the U.S. instead.
Same-Sex Fiance And The K1 Visa Process
The K1 Visa Requirements
- You (the petitioner) must be a U.S. citizen;
- You intend to marry within 90 days of your same-sex fiance entering the United States;
- You and your fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment; and
- You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition.
- There are two exceptions that require a waiver of the meeting in person requirement:
- 1. If the requirement to meet is against long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
- 2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you (the American fiance).
Step 1: Meet In Person In The Last 2 Years Before Filing
Before you even think about submitting the I-129F petition for your same-sex fiance, you must have met in person. This is simple enough, right? But, you’d be surprised at how often i get asked if there is a way to bypass this requirement.
I understand that traveling to another country is expensive, but wouldn’t you want to meet and see the person you are about to marry in person? I know I would.
USCIS wants to see that you met your fiance in person so that you know what you’re getting into. Marriage is serious business. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In most cases, the meeting in person requirement is to protect the U.S. fiance from a scam.
Have you watched the TV show “Catfish”?
If not, go watch it now. It’s all about online relationships that start off great but it turns out one person in the relationship is being lied to. Either they are talking to someone who lied about who they are or what they looked like, or, they were completely being scammed out of money the whole time.
So, yes, meeting in person is an absolute requirement unless it would go against your long-held religious or cultural beliefs. This type of waiver is really hard to get so don’t get your hopes up.
Then there is also the hardship waiver. It allows the U.S. fiance to claim extreme hardship and skip the meeting in person requirement. I’ve seen this waiver used in cases where the U.S. fiance is complete disabled and unable to travel and their fiance was denied for a tourist visa several times.
Brandy met her girlfriend Isabelle in Brazil. They decided to file for the K1 fiancee visa for Isabelle so she can come to the U.S. to marry Brandy. The last time they met in person was almost 6 months ago but this meets the requirement of meeting in person in the last 2 years.
Brandy kept evidence of their meeting in person including boarding passes, photos, train receipts, hotels receipts. After submitting the I-129F, USCIS accepted it and approved it 5 months later.
Step 2: Gather Evidence of Your Relationship
After you’ve met each other in person, it’s time to gather all the documents proving that your relationship is real.
This can include the following:
- Boarding passes
- Hotel receipts
- Flight itineraries
- Photos together
- Emails and text messages
- Letters and birthday cards
Submit as much evidence as you possibly can. Don’t worry about sending in too many documents because it’s better than not sending enough.
This is what’s called “front-loading” your application.
I’m sure you’re wondering how long the K1 visa process takes to approve. Well, the timeline can vary but it’s averaging about 7-11 months.
Once you’ve put together a great I-129F petition, it’s time to mail to USCIS.
Then begins that long waiting period for the approval. I’ll be honest with you and say that you’ll be waiting many months to hear anything from USCIS.
I remember in my own case, it took us almost 4 months to get the second notice of action (NOA2). The time between the first notice of action (NOA1) and the second (NOA2) can vary but expect it to be 4-6 months.
Step 4: Approved Petition Sent To NVC
By now, your I-129F petition has been approved! Congrats.
Your case will be send to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. They will send you instructions and packet of documents to fill out and send back.
The NVC will issue your same-sex fiance a case number and provide an invoice number to pay the fees online. The faster you complete this step, the sooner you will get your interview appointment date.
Step 5: Pay The Visa Fees
It’s time to pay the piper!
Have you heard of that term? If not, it just means you must pay to play the game. Nothing will be processed until you pay the nonimmigrant fee for online form DS-160.
Once you pay the fee and complete the online form, NVC will forward your case to the U.S. consulate abroad. Your same-sex fiance will then receive a letter that will provide information about the visa interview and medical exam.
Step 6: Complete Medical Exam/Police Clearance
Before the interview, your same-sex fiance must complete a medical examination and get their police clearance report from all countries you’ve lived in since the age of 16.
The medical exam is pretty straight forward and you can think of it similar to an annual physical.
Be sure to bring your vaccination records and medical history information. The USCIS approval panel physician will specifically be looking for communicable diseases as well as mental health and drug related issues.
After the medical exam is complete, you will be given the sealed results. Don’t open it! It has to remain sealed until you get to the port of entry.
Step 7: Attend the K1 Visa Interview
It’s finally the big day!
Your same-sex fiance will attend the K1 visa interview. You are certainly welcome to join but it’s not required.
Be sure to study the K1 visa interview questions together so that you are both on the same page. Plus, it’s a way to really get to know each other. The visa interview isn’t difficult and the consulate officer will ask questions related to what’s on the forms.
Below are some K1 visa interview questions:
- How did you meet?
- Where did you meet?
- Have you ever been to the US?
- When is the last time you have seen your fiance?
- What do you love most about each other?
- What made you fall in love?
- What is your fiance’s favorite food?
- Who does your fiance live with?
- How long have you known each other?
- What is your anniversary date when you met?
- Do you want children in the future?
If you can comfortable answer these questions without hesitation, you are prepared for the interview.
Step 8: Port of Entry Process
The last step of the process is the K1 port of entry process.
This is where your same-sex fiance finally gets to use the K1 visa stamp in your passport to enter the U.S. Remember, the K1 visa is not a guaranteed entry visa and ultimately it will be up to Customs and Border Protection to decide whether you should be allowed in the country.
It’s rare for someone to be denied entry with a K1 visa but be prepared in case you are the rare exception.
Bring everything with you including your sealed medical exam. DO NOT OPEN IT. It must be sealed when you give it to CBP for them to accept it.
After you enter the U.S. the time begins to count down for you to get married. Don’t delay! Get married a soon as you can so you can file for adjustment of status with form I-485.
Your same-sex fiance only has legal status for 90 days until they adjust status to get a green card.
Final Thoughts On K1 Visa For Same-Sex Fiance
There you have it, folks.
The K1 visa process for same-sex fiance is identical to the process followed by everyone else. Thankfully, USCIS doesn’t discriminate against those of you who have found love with someone of the same gender.
Follow the steps outlined above and you shouldn’t have any problems getting approved for the visa.
I always like to tell people that if you have more time than money – file for the K1 yourself but make sure to do a lot of research. But, if you have more money than time, you can either hire an immigrant attorney or pay someone to help you through the process.
The K1 visa process isn’t too difficult. I submitted my own petition without the help of an attorney and we had no issues getting approved. I believe that most of you reading this will be just fine doing it on your own.
But I know there will be a small number of you who just want someone else to do everything for them.