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By Chaninat & Leeds

K1 visa for Thai Girlfriend: Do I Need to Meet Her before She Can Get a US Visa?

Every year Thai fiancées join the tens of thousands of foreign nationals betrothed to American citizens who arrive in the US on K1 fiancée visas with the intention of marrying their loved ones, gaining permanent residency and, in many cases, eventually becoming U.S. citizens.

Do I Need To Meet My Thai Girlfriend Before She Can Get a K1 Visa in Thailand?

In this age of web cams, cell phones, internet dating, and social networking websites some may believe that actually physically meeting a Thai fiancée before marriage is not necessary. However, only in very exceptional circumstances or in cases of extreme hardship will a US K1 Visa Thailand  be issued if the couple have not met before in person within the two previous years immediately preceding the application. Such circumstances, where the meeting requirement may be waived, could include the existence of religious or cultural reasons why the betrothed may not meet before marriage, or where an acute illness prevents an American citizen from traveling abroad. It is very rare, however, for such applications to be approved.

Despite this requirement to have met before in person, some critics of the K1 visa believe it opens the door to possible marriage fraud by providing an opportunity for American citizens to marry a foreign national after only a brief trip and without making the extra effort to actually leave the country and marry abroad. This, they argue, raises questions about the legitimacy of K1 Visa relationships that may be manipulated by some who see it simply as a route to gain long term U.S. permanent residency.

Nevertheless, apart from the meeting requirement, the K1 visa application and approval process involves stringent guidelines that seek to verify the bona fides of each relationship before the K1 visa is issued in Thailand. Let's take a look at some more of the specifics.

What is a K1 Visa?

In essence, the K1 Visa's exclusive purpose is to allow the foreign fiancées of American citizens (but not permanent residents) to enter the country for the express purpose of marriage. It is a short-term, single entry 90 day visa issued only from U.S. embassies and U.S. consulates, and it must be used to enter the country within six months of the date of issue. The American citizen is the petitioner of the visa and the fiancée is the visa beneficiary.

Once the couple has married in the United States, the beneficiary is permitted to reside in the country, although this is subject to the submission of an 'Adjustment of Status' application which is a forerunner to the issue of a US Marriage Visa Thailand and long-term eventual permanent residence (LPR) or 'Green Card' status. If approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), holders of K1 Visas are permitted to work and travel abroad after marriage.

Visa Issue Requirements

Both the US citizen and the beneficiary must be eligible to marry in accordance with the laws of the United States. This means that they are of marriageable age, and their marital status is single, widowed, divorced or annulled and free to marry. Written plans need to be provided for the wedding, including the date and place within the 90 day time-span of the visa.

The foreign beneficiary of the visa is required to undergo an approved medical examination before the visa is issued to rule out communicable diseases or physical or mental disorders that are deemed a threat to property, safety or welfare. The examination includes a chest x-ray and blood test.

A police clearance certificate is also necessary from Thailand and from countries where the beneficiary has resided for more than one year after attaining the age of 16 years.

The children of the beneficiary may apply to enter the United States under other classes of visa.

The K1 Fiancée Visa Thailand Application and Approval Process

For the K1 Fiancée Visa Thailand application, the initial step is taken by the American citizen who petitions the USCIS by applying for the visa with a 1-129F petition. Upon approval of the petition, which can take a number or months, the beneficiary needs to attend an interview at the U.S Embassy in Bangkok and supply documents in support of the application to enter the U.S. and undergo the medical examination. The interviewer will attempt to establish whether the relationship is indeed a bona fide one based on a genuine commitment and a clear intention to marry the American citizen.

Following the interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok, the fiancée will receive advice of approval, denial or the need to furnish more information (known as a 221 g request) for the petition to be progressed. Once approved, the K1 Visa will be affixed to the passport, and the Thai fiancée is permitted to travel to the U.S. within 6 months of the issue date.

It is worth noting that if the marriage of the couple does not take place within the 90 day time-frame, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, allows a U.S. citizen to petition for a K1 Visa only once every two years.

By engaging the services of a Bangkok US immigration lawyer, United States citizens can rest assured that all steps in petitioning for a US K1 visa to bring their Thai fiancée to the U.S. will receive professional and personal attention.

Related Articles:

K1 and K3 Visa Interview at the US Embassy in Bangkok

Sham Marriages and US Marriage Fraud: Thailand