Writer Richard Bach once wrote, “If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?” Not if your girlfriend or boyfriend is a foreign citizen – and getting them here is no easy feat. Universal Internet access has dissolved borders worldwide for those in search of boundless love. United States citizenship and immigration services, however, maintains increasingly strict guidelines and procedures, which limit foreign citizens from entering the country, for love or any reason.
A common assumption is that a foreign citizen may apply for a B1/B2 tourist visa, or enter on the visa waiver program, then marry a US citizen and remain in the US. This appears to be an easy route, because a visitor visa is rather inexpensive and quickly approved. Visitor visas, however, are not easily granted. The foreign citizen must show “strong ties” to their country, which overwhelmingly demonstrates that they have something to return home for. Strong ties include holding property, working a high-paying and respected job, having young children, etc. Even with strong ties, the denial rate is high and nearly impossible in some countries.
Taking this route is also problematic, because the government does not like it when visa applicants break their promises. When issued a tourist visa, or entering the US on the visa waiver program, the foreign citizen gives their sworn promise that they will return home in the allotted time. Marriage to a US citizen implies that the foreigner has changed their story and will not return home anymore. In some cases, marrying on the tourist visa may be considered visa fraud by the Department of State (DOS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While the government does not want to break up families, if they decide that someone commits visa fraud, that individual can be removed and banned from the US.
For these reasons, US citizens who want to bring a girlfriend or boyfriend to the US should consider the K1 Fiancé(e) Visa route. This option takes up to eight months to be approved and costs approximately one thousand dollars in government fees. It also requires an in-person meeting (meaning the US citizen must first travel to the foreigner’s country or a mutual country) before filing the petition. When it is approved, the foreign citizen will have 90 days to test out the relationship and living situation before marriage. f the relationship progresses, they may marry here and file for their permanent residence to remain in the US. If the relationship fails, they simply return home within the 90 days, making this a flexible and viable visa option.
For US citizens interested in starting their lives with a foreigner it is important to understand the bureaucracy, time, and paperwork involved in the visa process. One misstep can be costly financially, in time spent, or even worse lead to serious immigration repercussions. Those considering bringing a girlfriend or boyfriend to the US should consider the K1 Fiancé(e) Visa and consult a certified immigration consultant like Easy Fiancé Visa ( www.easyfiancevisa.com) or an attorney (try American Immigration Lawyers Association at www.aila.org .