UNITED STATES – Under the “Immediate Relative” law, the minor child of a foreign spouse qualifies as a “Step-child” and can be sponsored by the U.S. Citizen, as long as the marriage to the child’s parent took place before the child turned age 18.
Yet, if the child is just one day over age 18, they lose the ability to obtain residency from the Step-parent.
So, what happens if a couple is planning to get married but has not yet done so before a child turns age 18? And what if the couple has not even met until the child is over 18? Tragically, in some cases, children are not able to immigrate along with their parent and must often wait in long immigration visa lines for years once their parent obtains a Green Card, to join them in the U.S.
K- 1 Finance Visa
In many instances, the K-1 Fiancé Visa is a perfect solution for U.S. Citizen sponsorship and can be the key to enabling stepchildren to immigrate to the U.S. along with their parent, when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
Most people know that the K-1 Visa Fiancé Visa is used by U.S. Citizens to bring a foreign fiancé to the U.S. in order to get married within 90 days and file for Residency to get a Green Card. But many don’t know about the hidden benefits of the law, which allows minor children of the foreign Fiancé to qualify for Residency, when they would not otherwise be eligible to under regular Family immigration rule for “Immediate Relatives” (Spouses, Minor Children and Parents).
Under the K-1 Visa, minor children of the Fiancé, under age 21 are eligible to be issued a K-2 Visa, which allows them to accompany their parent to the U.S. and obtain a Green Card along with the parent, up until they reach age 21. In this case, there is no requirement that their parent and stepparent marry before the child reaches age 18!
Years ago, the K-1 Visa was great because it would expedite the process to bring a fiancée to the U.S. in only a few months so that the couple would not have to be separated for long periods of time. However, these days, the K-1 process takes almost as long as a spousal Immigrant Visa, 8 +months or so, making it less attractive. As such, the usual advice to U.S. Citizens these days is simply to get married to the foreign fiancée in their home country, then file the spousal petition and once approved, the foreign spouse will become a Resident upon entering the U.S.
However, in cases where the foreign Fiancé has one or more children over age 18, but under age 21, the K-1 (Fiancé) and K-2 (dependent) visas are a wonderful solution to overcome the problems caused under normal Immigration regulations in establishing the requisite Stepparent/Stepchild relationship before the child turns age 18. In this case, as long as the K-2 child enters the U.S. before age 21, he or she continues to qualify for a Green Card.
This visa is only available to Fiancés and their minor children under age 21 of a U.S. Citizen (not Resident Green Card holder) and is only for those who are outside the U.S. and have not overstayed previously in the U.S.