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Catfished? Never!

Posted by TaQuita M. Hogan-Claiborne on December 19, 2013 at 2:00 AM


“Catfished”? Never!

No immigration client of mine shall be “CATFISHED”!

 

In immigration, “Catfished” is not a new concept. This is when parties set-up false social network or dating profiles for deceptive or fraudulent purposes. We have been working for many years with the Dept. of Homeland Security to make sure that our K1 Fiancé Visa clients do not face such challenges.


So let’s say… you tried your luck with online dating or that you traveled to an exotic country and you found the love of your life.


Now, what can you do if you are a U.S. citizen and now you are engaged, but the person you are engaged to (your fiancé is not a U.S. citizen? Wait a minute…not only is your fiancé not an U.S. citizen but he/she also lives outside the U.S. And you plan to get married in the U.S!


Don’t worry…. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a solution.


You can obtain a fiancé visa for him/her.


What is a Fiancé Visa?

K1 visa:

The K1 fiancé is a nonimmigrant visa that entitles the foreign partner of a US citizen to enter the U.S. to marry the US citizen.


So what do we do? How do we apply for a fiancé(e) visa?

It is a multi-step procedure:


Step 1: First, you, as U.S. citizen fiancé submits a fiancé visa petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done on Form I-129F, along with various documents. (Alert: Please do not confuse it with Form I-129, which is used by employers petitioning for workers).


---Here’s your “Anti-Catfished” protection….


In addition to filling out the form, you, the petitioner must prepare various documents, for example proving your U.S. citizenship status and the fact that you two have met IN PERSON within the last two years.


What do I have to prove in the I-129F Fiancé(e) Petition?

The I-129F petition must establish four things:

• That the sponsoring fiancé is a U.S. citizen;

• That both individuals are legally free to marry and that the marriage is legally possible in the state where the couple intends to wed;

(Note: The USCIS guidance on marriages involving a transgender spouse specifically says that if you live in a state that will not recognize your marriage you will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny at which point you will have the opportunity to submit an affidavit explaining your intention to marry a state which will respect your marriage. Additional procedures may apply to same-sex relationships.)

• That the couple has personally seen one another within the last two years, and

• That the couple’s relationship is real (bona fide) and that they intend to marry for reasons beyond just obtaining a green card.


Step 2: Once this petition is approved, it will be sent to a USCIS service center, which will then direct the petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the foreign national partner.


Step 3: The embassy or consulate will send a detailed “Instruction Package” and information for setting up an interview to determine the foreign national partner’s eligibility for the visa. We complete the package, while the foreign fiancé sees a doctor (one approved by the U.S. consulate) to get a medical exam report, and then he/she presents everything to a U.S. consulate in his/her home country. At the embassy or consulate, the foreign partner attends an interview and hopefully receives his/her K-1 fiancé visa. If approved, the foreign national fiancé will receive a visa and must enter the U.S. within 6 months and marry within 90 days of that entry.


What kind of documents can be submitted to prove the good faith nature (bona fides) of the relationship? More “Anti-Catfished” Precautions!

You should be prepared to submit affidavits from each partner, discussing how and when you met and evidencing your intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign partner’s entry; photographs of the two of you together; letters or emails that you’ve sent one another over the course of your relationship; letters of support from family or friends who can attest to the bona fide nature of your relationship; travel itineraries or tickets showing that you’ve visited one another; any powers of attorney, wills, insurance policies in which one partner lists the other as a beneficiary; evidence of any shared financial accounts or obligations, etc. The idea is to submit whatever documents you have that would lead someone to conclude that the two of you are in a real relationship.


How long will it take before my partner will be able to travel to the U.S. on a fiancé(e) visa?

Processing times vary based on a number of factors and are especially dependent on the individual embassy or consulate that will be handling the petition. Generally, however, it can take between 8-11 months from the time that an I-129F petition is filed before the foreign national partner is issued a visa to enter the U.S. This includes 5-6 months for the processing of the I-129F itself and another 1-2 months for the embassy or consulate to establish contact with the foreign national partner. From that point on, much is dependent on the foreign national’s ability to gather the materials requested by the embassy or consulate that will need to be submitted before an interview is scheduled.


What do we need to do after my partner arrives in the U.S.?

You must get married! The marriage must take place within 90 days of the foreign fiancé entering the U.S. If the marriage does not take place within 90 days or the foreign fiancé marries someone other than you, the US Citizen who petitioned him/her, your fiancé will be required to leave the U.S. It is NOT possible to extend the fiancé visa beyond original 90 days duration.

Once married, the foreign spouse can then apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident (green card-holder). This is the Adjustment of Status process which will allow the foreign spouse to live and work permanently in the U.S. (This process involves even more paperwork than the fiancé visa did!)

If your fiancé does not want to become a permanent resident after marriage, your fiancé (now your spouse) must leave the U.S. within the original 90 days duration! 

Here are some additional benefits…. He/she may also file the application for employment authorization.

Also, K1 visa holders can get a social security number. If you applied for a social security number before marriage, you can go back to the social security office after marriage to get your name changed in the social security card. The social security card will be marked "VALID FOR ONLY WITH USCIS AUTHORIZATION". That means, you need to get EAD first before you can actually work.


Note: In rare instances, some couples may have to attend a fraud interview if the government has any doubts whether the intended marriage is a real one. This could happen either as part of Step One or after Step Three.


May we travel outside the US?

The fiancé visa (K1/K2) allows a fiancé to enter the U.S. only once. If he/she leaves the U.S. after entering on a fiancé visa, he/she may not re-enter on the same visa and will need a new visa.

After getting married and after filing an ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS, if he/she wants to leave and re-enter the U.S., he/she must apply for ADVANCE PAROLE to return to the U.S.

As you can see, with these several checks and balances in place, it is almost impossible for a fiancé via K1 applicant to be “CATFISHED”.


“CATFISHED”… No Sir –-not on my watch!

 

 

 

Categories: Immigration Law

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