Can fiance visit USA while K1 visa application in process?
Can my fiance visit while K1 in process? In most cases yes. The way the fiancee visa process works is that the American sponsor is the one who is making the petition. While the foreign fiance is certainly mentioned in the petition she herself is not filing it. This means she is not really on US immigration’s radar until the final stages of the fiancee visa petition when she attends her interview at the overseas US consulate processing the case. At the consulate any other US visas she has are canceled, replaced by the K-1 fiancee visa.
If you are fortunate enough that your fiance is approved for a visitor visa or the visa waiver program then most certainly she can still visit you after the K-1 visa application has been submitted while your case is in process. And if the process goes quickly you may only be separated for the time it takes for her to return to her country, attend the consular interview, and wrap up her affairs before re-joining you in the USA.
The foreign born fiance will need to be in our own country or the country where she was living to have a final interview at the US Embassy or Consulate. She can remain in the USA as long as she follows the terms of the visa she is traveling on.
On arrival to the USA she was granted so many days of allowed stay. She must respect the terms of the visa, and must not remain beyond the allowed stay. Eventually, she must return to her country for the fiance visa interview. The consular interview can only take place outside the USA. After the interview and visa is approved she returns to the USA for marriage, adjustment of status and a happily ever after.
The one potential fly in the ointment however is that there is a chance she will be turned away at the US border.
Each time she enters the USA she is inspected by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the border.
His job is to screen incoming visitors to decide if they should be allowed entry. Regardless of what visa the traveler is using, admittance to the USA is always at the discretion of the CBP officer.
He may ask questions about the purpose of her trip, how long she will stay, where she will stay, when she plans to return to her home country, does she plan to work, who she is visiting and so on.
The objective of his questioning is to determine if there is any reason to suspect that the traveler may be planning to violate the terms of the visa she is using.
One serious violation he is watching for is the foreign traveler who has been granted a visa that permits a short visit, but appears likely that she MIGHT be intending instead to remain in the USA permanently.
If the traveler gives the impression that she plans to live permanently in the USA, even if not immediately but eventually, that can set off his alarm bells and may cause him to refuse entry.
When she describes her plans to meet her fiance or if her passport shows she has been making regular visits and perhaps she has maxed out the allowable stay periods, the officer may say “Well, Miss the proper visa for you to travel under is called a K-1 fiance visa.”
When she advises her K-1 visa has already applied for and is in process, it can go one of two ways. The CBP officer may say “Glad to see you are following the proper procedure, enjoy your stay be sure to return to your home country before the visa expires, good luck with the K-1 visa interview” Or he might say “Since you have applied for the K-1 visa, it indicates you do want to remain in the USA permanently, so must cancel your visitor visa, and turn you away today. As soon as the K-1 visa is approved you will be welcome to return”.
Your fiance would have no choice but to return to the international transit lounge to wait for the first available flight back to her country.
Other red flags that a traveler is considering unlawful permanent residency would be being unemployed and having no job to return to, traveling on a one-way plane ticket, having terminated her apartment lease.
It is OK to travel to the USA to visit friends and/or lovers. It is also OK to travel to the USA to get married.. The big no-no is intending to stay permanently.
In summary. If she has a visa to enter the USA she can visit you, while your K-1 Fiance Visa petition is pending. Her admission to the USA is not guaranteed, but if her previous trips have been infrequent and she has not maxed out her allowed stays, she will probably be allowed to enter.
By Fred Wahl
the Visa Coach