K-1 Fiancé Visa

Family-Based Immigration

Summary

Also known as the fiancé visa, the K-1 visa is a document that allows a United States citizen to bring their engaged partner into the country legally. The visa requires that the couple get married within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry into the country, after which they will be able to apply for permanent residency (or a “green card“) based on marriage.

What Is A K-1 Visa? 

Also known as the fiancé visa, the K-1 visa is a document that allows a United States citizen to bring their engaged partner into the country legally. The visa requires that the couple get married within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry into the country, after which they will be able to apply for permanent residency (or a “green card“) based on marriage.

Note that the correct terminology will be a fiancé visa for a man getting married to a U.S. citizen and a fiancée visa for a woman in a similar position. However, to foster simplicity, most agencies use the term “fiancé” to mean either a male or a female partner.

Should I Get The K-1 Visa? 

There are cases where it might not make sense for you to apply for a fiancé visa. Generally, the decision to obtain a fiancé visa will depend on several factors. These include how long you and your partner are willing to wait before getting married, where you both plan to live, and more. Moreover, you cannot apply for a fiancé visa if you are already married. In that case, use Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

The K-1 Visa Eligibility

As explained earlier, the K-1 visa allows a U.S. citizen to bring their fiancé into the country. However, some K-1 visa requirements can qualify or disqualify your fiancé from this visa provision. Some of them include:

  • The sponsoring spouse (in this case, you) will need to be a United States citizen. Note that green card holders won’t be able to sponsor their fiancé for a K-1 visa.
  • You and your partner must be eligible for marriage. Essentially, you must both be single. If you have been married before, you will need to show annulments, divorce decrees, or death certificates to prove that the prior marriage has been dissolved.
  • K-1 visas also apply to same-sex partners. Note that it doesn’t matter whether your home country’s laws recognize same-sex marriages.
  • You and your partner will be responsible for proving the legitimacy of your relationship. This includes providing photographs, hotel reservations and flight itineraries of trips that you have both been on, statements from friends and family members who are aware of the relationship, communications between the two of you, and more. Whatever you feel can solidify your connection before the law, bring it along.
  • You will both need to prove that you and your partner have met at least once in person in the two years before filing a fiancé visa petition. Instances of extreme hardship, or where personal meetings would violate cultural and religious norms are exempted from this.
  • Each of you will need to provide a written statement indicating your intention to tie the knot within 90 days if your partner gets their visa and arrives in the United States. It is a good idea to have some skeletal plans already in the works, so you can share them with the consular officer conducting the interview. These include deposits for the venue, wedding invitations, catering bills, and more.
  • The K-1 fiancé visa also comes with income requirements for the sponsoring spouse. These are in place to ensure that your partner does not become a public charge. Generally, you must show that you earn at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

The K-1 Visa Timeline

It usually takes about six to nine months on average for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to acknowledge and process the Form I-129F (or the Petition for Alien Fiancé).

From then, the approved petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is responsible for processing applications for fiancé visas and the required supporting documents. They will also send an interview request to the U.S. consulate or embassy that has jurisdiction over your fiancé. Generally, this step takes at least a month.

The K-1 Visa Application Process

Here is a detailed breakdown of the K-1 visa process.

Step 1: Fill Out Form I-129F

If you fit the K-1 visa requirements, you’re free to begin your form filling. The first step will be to make an official submission with the USCIS. Primarily, this filing helps to prove that your relationship with your spouse is valid.

Along with the form, you will need to add the following as evidence:

  • Proof of citizenship for the sponsoring partner. It could be a birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization, or your passport. Whichever applies in your case.
  • A copy of your fiancé’s passport.
  • Proof that you and your fiancé have met at least once within the past two years.
  • Sworn statements, written and signed by you and your fiancé, with a brief description of your relationship and an intent to get married within 90 days after your fiancé gets into the United States. It is recommended that you make photocopies. Send in the original statements and keep the copies with you.
  • A passport-style photograph of you and one of your fiancé.

The government requires a one-time payment of $535. When you submit the form at the appropriate address, USCIS will usually send a reply to the filing within a month.

Note that the USCIS might also send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they need additional clarification. Once the USCIS approves the Form I-129F, they will send a notice to that effect.

Step 2: Form DS-160 And The Interview Process

When the Form I-129F gets approved, the USCIS transfers your K-1 visa process to the United States Department of State.

Step 3: The Form DS-160

Your fiancé will need to complete the online DS-160 form from the State Department. Known as the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application,” this is actually the K-1 visa application form itself. Once your fiancé submits the form online, they will need to print out the confirmation page for evidence.

In addition, the State Department will require the following documents:

  • Two passport photographs
  • An original birth certificate
  • A valid international passport
  • Police clearance from all countries of residence
  • A medical examination form. Your fiancé will need to get it from an abroad physician with approval from the State Department. This document will need to be sealed.

You will also need to submit the following on your end:

  • An affidavit of support (Form I-134)
  • Your most recent tax returns
  • Proof of your relationship.

Step 4: The Interview Process

Your K-1 visa process won’t be complete without the interview.

As explained, the interview will take place at the U.S. consulate or embassy closest to your fiancé’s residence. Your fiancé will need to pay a visa fee at the interview location, but ensure that they review all instructions regarding the place and K-1 visa cost, as well as the time of payment. The instructions are included in the interview notice, and they can vary based on the home country.

In most cases, the interviewing officer will decide on the matter, either on the interview day or a few days after.

Arrival And Nuptials 

Once you meet all requirements and the K-1 visa application is approved, your fiancé must enter the U.S. within the validity period of their fiancé visa.

Upon arrival, remember that you will need to get married within 90 days. Your fiancé will be required to leave the U.S. if the marriage does not take place within this 90-day period.

Note that the K-1 visa doesn’t provide the opportunity to change to another temporary visa format like H-1B or F-1. Your fiancé can also not move from a K-1 visa to a green card based on marriage to anyone apart from you.

Why Can My Fiancé’s Visa Get Denied?

Your fiancé’s visa could get denied for any number of reasons. Some of them include:

  • Errors and missing details in your K-1 visa application
  • Possible criminal background, either on your part or the part of your fiancé
  • Medical challenges or ill health
  • A refusal to terminate any previous marriage
  • An inability to prove the legitimacy of your relationship
  • Income requirements

What Happens If I Have Children? 

If your fiancé has children, they can apply for K-2 visas so that they can enter the U.S. with their parents. Note that the children will need to be unmarried and under the age of 21. Once the visas are approved, they will be able to enter the country too.

What’s Next? 

If you’ve decided to get your K-1 visa application started, you will need the right professionals to help you out. A lot of work goes into getting your fiancé visa in the U.S., and you want to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible.

For assistance with this process, give us a call at the Reeves Immigration Law Group. Our legal experts will be able to take you through the process of filing your K-1 visa application. We will also let you know more about your fiancé’s visa requirements, the K-1 visa timeline in your case, and much more.

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