Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2019

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Nevada among top states for ‘fiancé visa’ holders

Per capita, Nevada is one of the most popular states for couples who originally met across international borders.

Nevada has one of the highest per capita rates of K-1 visa recipients in the country, according to a recent study from D.C. research firm Causal Design.

The K-1 visa, also referred to as a “fiancé visa,” allows nonresidents to enter the United States to marry a U.S. citizen.

Causal Design’s study was by commissioned by RapidVisa, a company that helps with the visa application process. It shows that for admissions per 100,000 residents, Nevada is ahead of every state besides Washington, Alaska and Hawaii and Washington, D.C. In 2017, the state admitted over 513 residents on the special visas.

Ben Ives is the founder and CEO of RapidVisa. He and his wife, Jocelyn, who immigrated from the Philippines, have been married for 11 years.

People that make use of his company’s services meet in multiple ways, Ives said, including while serving in the military, on student visas, through work or, most prevalently, on online dating sites.

“Right from the start it’s been predominately people meeting online,” he said.

How does a K-1 visa work?

The process to obtain the visa is not as simple as flying someone into the country. Green card holders cannot make use of the visa, and couples who seek the visa must provide proof of their relationship, such as plane tickets, photographs together and written testimony from friends.

Generally, the couple must have proof that they have met in person in the last two years. The partner that is a citizen must also show that their income is above the federal poverty line.

Any couples in on this visa must get married within 90 days of entering the country. Same-sex couples can also make use of the visa.

“You have to prove it’s a real relationship,” Ives said. Not everyone passes the requirements. He remembered a couple that hadn’t seen each other in just over two years, and were denieda visa because of it.

How many K-1 visas are approved?

The K-1 visa is not, comparatively, a common visa type. In 2017, the visa made up only .05% of all nonimmigrant visas in the country.

In 2017, the number of K-1 visa admissions was around 35,000. For comparison, the average attendance at a Golden Knights game in 2017 was a little over 18,000, according to the study.

K-1 visas used to take around six months to clear, Ives said, but in the last couple years they’ve taken seven-10 months, which he attributed to changing attitudes and procedures around immigration processing.

“Now the odd piece of it is, at least in our business, we haven’t really seen an increase of denials,” he said.

So, while the process may be getting longer, the outcomes aren’t changing that much.

Why is Nevada a destination?

One possible reason for Nevada’s prevalence in the K-1 visa population is its demographics.

Filipinos make up, by far, the single largest demographic that use these visas, and Nevada has a large Filipino population.

In 2013, the last year in which American Community Survey published the information, there were over 132,000 residents of Nevada who identified as Filipino in some capacity.

Clark County, according to the the Migration Policy Institute, is one of the four top counties in the country for the number of Filipino immigrants.

Ives said that Nevada’s diverse population and the state’s job market could be a draw. According to the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, immigrants make up one-fourth of the Nevada workforce.

According to the group, 367,413 immigrants — 25.5% of the total workforce — were employed in Nevada.

Nevada also can exemplify the “glitz and glamour” of America, which can be attractive to people looking to move, Ives said.