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.
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.
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:
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.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the K-1 visa process.
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:
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.
When the Form I-129F gets approved, the USCIS transfers your K-1 visa process to the United States Department of State.
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:
You will also need to submit the following on your end:
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.
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.
Your fiancé’s visa could get denied for any number of reasons. Some of them include:
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.
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.