Marrying a U.S. citizen and planning to reside permanently in the United States? Start preparing for your life of wedded bliss by securing a K1 visa. But what is a K1 visa, and how do you get one? Here we go through everything you need to know about bringing your future spouse to live with you in the U.S.
Also known as the fiancé visa, the K-1 Nonimmigrant Visa is a specialty visa that allows a fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen to enter the country for the sole purpose of marriage. K-1 holders are allowed to bring their dependent children along if they are named in the K1 visa petition. They are also allowed to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to gain employment during their period of authorized stay.
It is important to note that K-1 visa holders must marry the U.S. petitioner within 90 days of entering the country. After marriage, the K-1 visa holder can apply for a marriage-based green card.
To get a K-1 visa, you must have a petitioner fiancé or fiancée who is a U.S. citizen legally free to marry. The U.S. petitioner must establish proof of this and convince consular officers and USCIS agents that their relationship with the fiancé or fiancée is bona fide. The basic requirements for eligibility include:
- A petition from a U.S. citizen who is legally free to get married
- If the petitioner is previously married, proof that such marriage was legally terminated through divorce, annulment, or death
- Intent to marry within 90 days from the day of entry into the United States
- Has met physically at least once within the last two years
- Income sources meet minimum income/asset requirements
Based on the facts of your case there may be other requirements.
3. Documentary Requirements
Below is a list of documentary requirements you may need to furnish upon filing of the application or during the application process. The specific documents required depends on your situation, so it’s best to consult an experienced immigration lawyer to ensure all documents are in order and all requirements are complete. This will increase the chances of your visa application getting approved.
- Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
- Cover letter stating genuine intent to get married
- Time-stamped photos together and preferably with fiancé’s friends & family with the last 2 years
- Passport stamps showing entry to and exit from your fiancé’s country
- Airline boarding passes, hotel receipts, and receipts of other types during travels together with your fiancé
- Affidavits from individuals who will attest to your visit to your fiancé’s country and met with him or her
- Any other evidence of meeting in person within the last 2 years
- Passport photos (both petitioner and beneficiary)
- Proof of Petitioner’s U.S. citizenship – such as U.S. Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or valid U.S. passport
- Divorce decree, death certificate, or other evidence of the termination of all previous marriages (both petitioner and beneficiary)
- Certified copies of police & court convictions, in compliance with International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (“IMBRA”) (if applicable)
- DS-160 Form by the foreign fiancé
- Passport with at least 6 months of validity left on it
- Police certificates from current residence country and other residence countries lived for 6+ months
- Birth certificate, vaccinations records, and medical exam of alien fiancé
- Evidence of financial support (I-134)
4. How to Apply
The K1 visa process starts with USCIS filing. The U.S. petitioner files Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé) with the USCIS. The petition package must include the K1 visa application form along with all documentary requirements and a check for the I-129F fees written to the Department of Homeland Security. Once received by the USCIS, you will get a receipt notice in the mail confirming receipt of your petition. This generally takes around two to three weeks. After processing the case, which can take several months, the USCIS will send a either an approval notice, a denial or a request for evidence if they require additional information (“RFE”) or clarification.
If denied, you can file Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion) to appeal the denial. You must do so within 33 days after receiving the denial notice and pay a non-refundable fee for the appeal. If your receive an RFE, you must comply and send the evidence requested within the given time frame.
If approved, your petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), which then sends your petition to the U.S Consulate in the originating country.
Your fiancé or fiancée will be required to attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where your fiancé or fiancée lives, and he or she will also be required to undergo a medical exam by an authorized physician. The U.S. petitioner is not required to attend this interview.
The interview will generally focus on whether the fiancé relationship is as real, and if the interview is successful, the K-1 visa would be issued. The K-1 visa, a self-adhesive decal, is placed in the alien fiancé’s passport. After receiving the K-1 visa, the fiancé must enter the United States within six months and get married within 90 days of entry into the country.
After the wedding, the alien spouse must file an adjustment of status to receive a green card. Without a green card, the alien spouse will not be allowed to gain employment within the country or re-enter the United States.
5. Grounds for Disqualification
A K1 fiancé visa will be denied if any of the grounds for disqualification are committed by the petitioner and alien fiancé.
- Attempt to use fraud or illegal means to gain entry into the United States
- Indications of possibility of becoming a public charge
- Addicted to drugs and prohibited substances
- Has contracted certain communicable disease
- Exhibits any dangerous mental or physical disorder
- Has engaged in criminal activities, including drug trafficking, prostitution, and crimes of moral turpitude
- Has certain criminal violations or security issues
6. International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBR)
This regulation impacts K-1 applications where:
- The petitioner may have filed two or more K-1 applications anytime in the past or had a previous K-1 approval in the past two years
- The Petitioner has certain criminal convictions
- An International Marriage Brokers has been used in the process of introducing the Petitioner and the fiancé (including online dating websites)
The IMBR can impose additional requirements or restrictions, and therefore you should consult an experienced immigration lawyer if you feel that this regulation applies to your case.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
- How long is the K1 visa processing time?
- The processing time for a Petition for Alien Fiancé is several months. After then, it may take several weeks for you to receive an interview notice. The process may take longer if there are additional requests for evidence, delays in the originating country, heavy USCIS workload, and other incidents that cause unexpected delays.
- Is there another way to get a partner a U.S. visa?
- If your K1 visa application is denied, you can get married abroad, and then apply for the green card for your spouse to be processed in consular processing abroad or for a K-3 visa to allow spouse to come to the U.S. and apply for the green card in the U.S.
- When should I apply for K1 visa adjustment of status?
- Once you enter on a K-1 visa, you should get married to the petitioner within 90 days, and then apply for an adjustment of status after your wedding to gain permanent residency or green card
8. Additional Resources
K1 visa applications usually go through smoothly if all documents and evidence are in order. However, some cases run into hitches. Applications may be denied or additional documents may be requested.
To facilitate proper preparation and filing of documents, consider seeking help from immigration attorneys at https://www.immlegal.com/. Our visa experts will help you fill up your K1 visa application form and prepare all the requirements you need to ensure a smooth process and positive outcome. Schedule a consultation today with our K1 visa lawyer.