Best way to get my girlfriend a Foreign Visa K2 etc?
August 21, 2013 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Me an my girlfriend are planning to get married next year. Right now she is living in Japan. She mentioned to me that a K1 visa is what she will need to stay in the United States once we get married. Does anyone know of any caveats to this visa? Would it be best to hire a lawyer to help us make sure the process goes smoothly? Also, are there any other options for visas that she could potentially get? My idea is to propose to her when she visits me on a 3 month visitor's visa and then get married within that 3 months. Any relevant experiences are welcome. Thanks for you help.
posted by locussst to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know the answer, but you should definitely, definitely find out what the recommended procedure is for your fiancee's visa, rather than getting married while she is here on a tourist visa. My guess is that would be a bad move, and frowned upon by ICE, and you don't want to start off the whole thing with a black mark. Immigration is slow, expensive and kafka-esque at times.
posted by Joh at 8:44 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lawyer. Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer. Do NOT screw around with immigration issues blindly. That would be a very bad idea. Get someone who knows what he or she is doing to help you.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 8:49 PM on August 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dude. DO NOT GET MARRIED ON A TOURIST VISA. THAT WILL SERIOUSLY MESS YOU UP FOR IMMIGRATION. SERIOUSLY IT IS A MASSIVELY AWFUL IDEA.

You can apply for a fiancee visa, so she can come over for three months, during which you can get married. Before you look into that (it's both expensive and takes forever - mine took 9 months), go over to Visa Journey and talk to people there.
posted by guster4lovers at 8:50 PM on August 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is fiance visa the only viable option then?
posted by locussst at 8:56 PM on August 21, 2013


IANAL, TINLA. I used to work as a paralegal in corporate immigration and my understanding is that K-1 is for a fiance(e) only. Nthing the "don't get married on a tourist visa" as this is likely to be perceived as immigration fraud, and could result in a bar on her entry to the US for years or even decades.

You may want to consult a lawyer even if you choose to file for yourself with advice from a forum; look for a local lawyer referral service (try the local bar association) to find a cheap referral, which should get you an inexpensive consultation. If you file on your own, copy EVERYTHING and send everything with tracking receipts (RR or overnight).

A lawyer for this kind of case is like insurance: expensive, but you're ready when things go wrong.

(You could also marry abroad and she could come in on an immigrant visa, ie, petition for a green card as your wife. I really suggest a consultation with a lawyer.)
posted by immlass at 9:00 PM on August 21, 2013


Lawyer. Pony up, man. I've been married twice - first one we didn't lawyer up and guess where he is? Yup, back in his home country. Lawyer.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:19 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

tl;dr: Don't do it. Not saying that people shouldn't do it and there are good reasons why you occasionally might do it but in your case don't do it.

Now for the explanation why.

When you're dealing with the USCIS and fucking with I-485s on visas you have the 30/60/90 day rule. The gist of this is:
If an applicant applies for a green card adjustment of status within 30 days of his entering US, the intent to commit marriage visas fraud is presumed and the application in all probability will be denied.

If an applicant applies for a green card adjustment of status between 30-60 days, the presumption of visa fraud can be overcome by rebuttal.

If an applicant applies for a green card adjustment of status between 60-90 days, the presumption would be reversed unless there is evidence of a preconceived intent for visa fraud. In most cases the adjustment of status application will be granted

The marriage visa fraud suspicion seldom arises for an application that is filed after 90 days.
Now, when I came over here for the first time I came over on a B-1/B-2 and I tried to find gainful employment on the assumption that I would find an appropriate job, head back to Australia and grab an E-3 visa. When that didn't eventuate we spoke to an immigration lawyer after three months to discuss our options. Basically, since I had been in the country for more than 90 days we could just get married and not fall afoul of the rules. So we went for it and filed the paperwork two days before my I-94 was due to expire. This was also simplified by the fact that I had bought a return ticket in good faith of me going back to get my E-3 upon finding qualifying employment.

My idea is to propose to her when she visits me on a 3 month visitor's visa and then get married within that 3 months. Any relevant experiences are welcome.

Since you just admitted plans of abuse of the non-immigrant visa to the world you've effectively fucked yourself on using any sort of "breaking the spirit but not the letter" of B-1/B-2 visas. If they ever find out about this Metafilter post or if you entertain any notion of this plan during the interview stage you are FUCKED. And it's really easy to say something stupid absent mindedly and fuck yourself. So go over to Japan, propose and then file the K-1 paperwork and do it properly.

And get a god damned lawyer. Here be dragons. Monster, huge dragons.
posted by Talez at 9:28 PM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was once a woefully naive person who married a person similarly afflicted, and things went extremely awry. We tried to do something very like what you're thinking of doing. What we ended up with was retaining the best immigration attorney in Seattle and having her use her magical powers of knowing everyone in town to reverse his deportation and get him out of the very scary detention facility.

And this was before the merger into Homeland Security.

What I'm saying is: lawyer. And tell them about this post and let them see it, so they can tell you if you should ask to have it deleted.
posted by batmonkey at 9:47 PM on August 21, 2013


Yes, please do your research before you do anything! Previously mentioned VisaJourney is fanatastic. Here is a beginner's guide What visa do I need? (although be aware the K3 visa doesn't really exist anymore). Here is the Japan portal.

Basically, you have these choices:

1) Get engaged and you apply for K1 (fiance) visa. Once received, she moves to US (she will not be able to work or study at this point), you get married, then she files for 'Adjustment of Status' to get a green card (when green card is received, she can work/study).

2) Marry abroad, you return to US and apply for Spouse visa (IR-1/CR-1 - same thing). Once received, she moves to US and can work/study right away.

3) Technically, despite the warnings, you could marry in the US on a tourist visa AS LONG AS you are prepared to show mammoth amounts of evidence that she will be returning to her home country afterwards so you can apply for the spouse visa. This is risky and there is a chance she won't be allowed to enter the US in the first place and then your wedding plans are scuppered.


I have personally been through route 1 (it took me 8 months to receive) and did it all without a lawyer thanks to VisaJourney BUT we had a simple case, no previous convictions, marriages, visa overstays or anything like that. If either of you has any 'red flags' in your past, if you are generally unsure or don't like filling in forms, then definately lawyer up.
posted by atlantica at 3:35 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a friend going through a fiancé visa process now. It's extremely rule bound and unforgiving. Do your visa work properly before she comes here or things will not go well.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:37 AM on August 22, 2013


She mentioned to me that a K1 visa is what she will need to stay in the United States once we get married.

That's not quite how that process works. The K1 process looks sort of like this:

(1) You put together application materials and send them to USCIS
(2) USCIS approves and forwards to the State Department in Japan
(3) State in Japan does an interview and grants K1
(4) She moves to the US
(5) You get hitched within the required time frame
(6) You file the I-485 and supporting and related forms (advance parole, temporary work permit) for her to get a green card
(7) Wait. Continue waiting. More waiting.
(8) Green card interview, then 2-year green card (conditional permanent residency)
(9) After 1.5 years or so, file paperwork for 10 year green card (removal of conditions)

Does anyone know of any caveats to this visa?

It will be much more difficult if she has a record of immigration violations against the US.

Would it be best to hire a lawyer to help us make sure the process goes smoothly?

On the one hand, the process is one that anyone of normal intelligence can successfully navigate if they take the process very seriously, are detail oriented and do not attempt to cut corners, and are willing to invest the time and effort to use all the available resources to understand the process (ie obsessively read visajourney.com). The fact that you're an accountant implies that you can be detail oriented, careful, and thorough enough to make it through the process without an attorney. The process is not difficult per se, but it is very fussy.

On the other hand, you also mentioned just entering and marrying, which is like saying "Should I deduct my new big-screen tv on my taxes for no reason just to see if I can get away with it?" So maybe you would benefit from an attorney telling you not to do things like that, or not trying to cut other corners on the process.

If you use an attorney, you do not want to hire a random attorney you happen to know. If you read visajourney, you'll find plenty of people whose plain old attorney fucked up their petition while charging them for the privilege. You want an immigration attorney; AILA membership would be a good place to start.

Also, are there any other options for visas that she could potentially get?

Because she is Japanese, there is no realistic alternative for her.

You could, if you really wanted to, marry her in Japan and file the paperwork to bring her to the US as a spouse rather than fiancee; this would mean an immediate 2-year green card. However, this process would take so long that it would generally be faster to "bail out" of the I-130 process with a special weirdo use of the K visa. In other words, you'd still have to go through the K visa process, but it would take longer and be more expensive.

In some nations, the US embassy/consulate has what's called "direct consular filing" where spousal visas become very quick. Best information says that Japan is not among them.

My idea is to propose to her when she visits me on a 3 month visitor's visa and then get married within that 3 months.

This is a spectacularly terrible idea. Do not meddle in the affairs of immigration agencies, for they are subtle and quick to anger. Or, if you want, the first rule of Immigration Club is

DO NOT FUCK WITH USCIS

The second rule is

DUDE. DO. NOT. FUCK. WITH. USCIS.

While the outcome is positive for the utterly overwhelming majority of real couples, the overall immigration process is still the most serious interaction with the US government you will ever have unless you face a felony trial. Your entire life with her in the US hinges on not fucking this up. So treat it with care and respect and follow the process correctly and carefully.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:28 AM on August 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


I DCFed for my husband 5 years ago. In order to go that route, most embassies (AIUI, the procedure is stricter now, not easier) require the American citizen to be resident abroad and there can be minimum residency lengths. It's not a shortcut, and the "expedited" DCF still took 6 months.

Get a K visa. And go join VisaJourney.

I cannot second the "Do not fuck with USCIS" advice enough. And don't play with fire by marrying on a tourist visa. Yes, you're going to find people it worked for, especially if the plan was "Let's get hitched in Vegas and both go right back out of the country." It's a huge gamble that may result in you winding up permanently apart.
posted by anonymonkey at 7:29 AM on August 22, 2013


You need to buy this book and read it. Go to VisaJourney and read their very good guides, brave the forums there, the info can be good if a little bitchy.

If you feel you can handle all the paperwork you can do it yourself, my husband and I did (though we were the only couple waiting for our interview in the huge waiting room without a lawyer) follow the steps carefully and file the paperwork as required, do not think you have found some shortcut the USCIS has not noticed, they have noticed. If you don't think you can handle it, there is a shit tonne of paperwork to keep organised, get a lawyer. The book will help you know what the lawyer is going on about and give you some idea of the papertrail you need to start establishing now as you need to drown them in proof of a relationship.

Start saving up money, this is all way more expensive than you think it's going to be, even more so if you get a lawyer.

Do not fuck with the USCIS. Do not get married while she is here on a tourist visa. It sucks, it will take a while (a long while in some cases), but you have to follow the steps and get a fiance visa. Good luck.
posted by wwax at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2013


Start saving up money, this is all way more expensive than you think it's going to be, even more so if you get a lawyer.

My CR removal alone was about $3K. Getting it was about $8K. About half that was USCIS fees.
posted by Talez at 9:43 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


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