For American citizens who have found love outside of the country, the United States provides a path for citizenship for their partners, known as a K-1 fiancé visa. With this pathway to citizenship, the citizen has a period of 90 days to marry the foreign national, and if the marriage does not occur within this period, the foreign national may be required to return to their country. When a couple does not meet the visa expiration benchmark, it is helpful to know what to expect.
Renewal Is Not an Option
Remember, the expiration date of your visa is firm. For this reason, you cannot go back to the immigration office and apply for an extension on the existing fiancé visa. As a result, once the clock expires, the current fiancé visa is no longer considered valid, and for all intents and purposes, your finance is residing within the country illegally.
If you do not have plans to marry immediately after the visa has expired, you should sit down with an attorney to see what options you have to still secure citizenship for your partner.
Sort Out the Why
Whenever a couple finds themselves in this sort of situation, it is a good idea to take a step back and sort out why you have not married yet. If the reason for the delay is that you are not sure you want to get married, you should take the time to truly think about what you want.
Although your marriage will provide a path to independent citizenship for your spouse, based on immigration laws, you will be largely responsible for the actions and needs of your spouse for many years, even if you are no longer together. Talk to an attorney to learn more about what is at stake to ensure you want to move forward.
Time Is of the Essence
If there was an uncontrollable event that prevented you from marrying during this period, you might not be entirely out of options. There is a small gray area between when a visa expires and when the authorities will pursue action against you.
Often, as long as you marry shortly after the expiration date, provide documentation, and apply for the green card, you will likely not face any challenges. So, if your partner's visa is expired and you are certain you want to marry, move forward as quickly as possible.
If you are in this situation, you need to speak with an immigration attorney who can review your situation and help you determine the best path forward. Contact a firm like Tesoroni & Leroy to learn more.