K1 Fiancé Visa
Nonimmigrant visa that allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the United States to get married
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Here is a step-by-step guide to the K-1 visa process:
Step 1: File the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
The first step in obtaining a K-1 visa is to file a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (Form I-129F) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petitioner (U.S. citizen) must provide supporting documents such as evidence of their U.S. citizenship, proof of a bona fide relationship with the foreign national fiancé(e), proof of meeting in person within the last two years, and other documentation.
Step 2: Wait for USCIS approval
Once the petition is filed, USCIS will review it. If the petition is approved, USCIS will forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.
Step 3: Complete the K-1 visa application
After USCIS approves the petition, the fiancé(e) must apply for a K-1 visa by completing the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) and paying the visa fee. The U.S. embassy or consulate will schedule an interview with the foreign national fiancé(e) and conduct background checks. The foreign national fiancé(e) must undergo a medical examination and provide NVC with certain civil documents before the interview. The U.S. petitioner must provide the NVC with a signed Affidavit of Financial Support and Evidence of their income.
Step 4: Attend the visa interview
At the visa interview, the fiancé(e) will be asked questions about their relationship with the petitioner and intentions in the United States. If the visa is approved, the fiancé(e) will receive a K-1 visa and travel to the United States.
Step 5: Enter the United States and marry within 90 days
After the fiancé(e) arrives in the United States, they must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days. Once they are married, the fiancé(e) can apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident.
How long will a fiancé(e) visa take?
The K-1 visa timeline can vary depending on several factors, such as the workload of the USCIS and the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign national fiancé(e)’s country, the case’s complexity, and whether there are any issues or delays in the application process (e.g. delays in obtaining necessary documentation, requests for additional evidence by USCIS).
As of March 2023, the average processing time for the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is approximately 7-10 months. The average processing time in U.S. embassies and consulates is around 2-6 months.
Overall, the K-1 visa process can take anywhere from 8 to 18 months or longer in some cases. It’s important to follow all instructions and requirements carefully and to plan ahead to allow for potential delays in the application process.
What is the difference between marriage and fiancé(e) visa?
The main difference between a marriage green card and a fiancé(e) visa is the timing of the marriage – for the spousal visa, the couple must be married before applying. After getting a fiancé(e) visa and entering the United States, you must get married within 90 days of arrival.
The choice between a marriage visa and a fiancé(e) visa depends on the couple’s circumstances – current location and time frame for marriage.
What are the key factors for a couple choosing between K-1 and spouse green card?
When choosing between the K-1 visa and a marriage-based green card, there are several factors that a couple should consider, such as:
- Timeline: If the couple wants to get married and live together in the United States as soon as possible, the K-1 visa may be the faster option. However, if you are ready to wait a bit longer and start your married life abroad, you may opt for the marriage-based green card.
- Cost: The K-1 visa and the marriage-based green card both have associated costs, including government fees, medical examinations, and legal fees. However, the total cost of the K-1 visa may be higher due to additional travel expenses and the cost of adjustment of status once the fiance enters the United States.
- Travel: The K-1 visa requires the foreign fiance to travel to the United States, while the marriage-based green card allows the couple to marry abroad and then apply for the green card together.
- Immigration history: If the foreign fiance has previously overstayed a visa or has a criminal record, it may be more difficult to obtain a K-1 visa. In such cases, a marriage-based green card may be the better option.
- Relationship history: To obtain a K-1 visa, the couple must provide evidence that they have met in person within the past two years. If they have not yet met in person, they may not be eligible for the K-1 visa. For a marriage-based green card, there is no requirement that the couple have met in person, but they must provide evidence of a bona fide marriage. The only exception is the marriage ceremony has to be done in person for the marriage to be considered legal. If the marriage registration is done virtually while the parties are in 2 different places, the marriage is not considered legal until they meet each other in person to consummate the marriage. The marriage has to be legal to file an immigrant visa petition for a foreign spouse or the petition will be denied.
- Future plans: If the couple plans to travel frequently or live abroad for extended periods, they may find it easier to do so with a marriage-based green card, which allows for multiple entries and re-entry to the United States. With a K-1 visa, the foreign fiance will need to apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card and may face travel restrictions during that process.
It is important to carefully consider each of these factors and consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine the best option for your specific case.
What are the eligibility criteria for a K1 visa?
To be eligible for a K-1 visa, both the petitioner (U.S. citizen) and the foreign national fiancé(e) must meet the following requirements:
Petitioner (U.S. citizen):
- Must have met the foreign national fiancé(e) in person within the last two years
- Must intend to marry the foreign national fiancé(e) within 90 days of their arrival in the United States
- Must meet the minimum income requirement to sponsor the fiancé(e) (or have a co-sponsor who meets the requirement)
Beneficiary (foreign national fiancé(e):
- Must be legally eligible to marry under the laws of their home country and U.S. law
- Must have a bona fide relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner
- Must not have any criminal convictions or immigration violations that would make them ineligible for a visa
- Must not have any serious health conditions (like HIV or siphylis) that would make them inadmissible to the United States
K-1 visa process can be complex, and the eligibility requirements may vary depending on individual circumstances. It may be helpful to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance on the eligibility criteria and the application process.
How can we help?
Our experienced immigration attorney will provide valuable assistance throughout the K-1 visa application process. Here are some ways how we can help:
- Provide guidance and advice: the immigration lawyer will explain the K-1 visa process and requirements and answer any questions.
- Review application materials: if you have already collected your packet, the attorney will review the materials to ensure they are complete and accurate.
- Prepare supporting documents: our attorney will assist in gathering and preparing the necessary supporting documents for the K-1 visa application, including evidence of the bona fide relationship, financial support, and other required materials.
- Communicate with government agencies: we will communicate with USCIS, the National Visa Center, and the U.S. embassy or consulate on your behalf, helping to expedite the application process and address any concerns or issues that may arise.
- Provide representation: we will attend the Adjustment of Status (Green card) interview with you. Our attorney can appear at your USCIS Interview in person or by phone/video conference or advise on the Consulate interview or proceedings related to the K-1 visa application.
We will provide valuable assistance and guidance throughout your K-1 visa application process, helping to ensure that the application is complete and accurate and maximizing the chances of a successful outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between the K-1 visa and the K-3 visa?
Purpose: The K-1 visa is for fiancé(e)s, while the K-3 visa is for foreign national spouses.
Timeline: The K-1 visa typically has a shorter processing time – 7-10 months for K-1 and 10-12 months for K-3.
Entry: The K-1 visa allows the foreign national fiancé(e) to enter the United States for 90 days to get married, while the K-3 visa allows the foreign national spouse to enter the United States and apply for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) to obtain a green card.
I received my K-1. What’s next?
After obtaining the K-1 visa, the foreign national fiancé(e) can travel to the United States and be admitted for 90 days. During this time, the couple must get married.
After the marriage, the foreign national fiancé(e) can apply for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). The application must include supporting documents such as evidence of the marriage, medical examination, and financial support.
If the Adjustment of Status application is approved, and the couple has not been married for longer than two years, the foreign national fiancé(e) will receive conditional permanent residence valid for two years. The couple must file a joint petition to remove the conditions before the end of the two-year period.
It’s important to note that the K-1 visa process can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. It may be helpful to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance.
Can I expedite the K-1 visa processing time?
Yes, certain circumstances may qualify for expedited processing of a K-1 visa application. However, it’s important to note that expedited processing is not guaranteed, and each case is evaluated individually. Here are some situations that may qualify for expedited processing:
Emergencies: If a medical issue or a family crisis requires the foreign national fiancé(e) to enter the United States urgently, the embassy or consulate may be able to expedite the processing of the K-1 visa application.
Humanitarian reasons: If the foreign national fiancé(e) has a compelling humanitarian reason for expedited processing, such as if they are a victim of domestic violence or other abuse, or if the U.S. petitioner or foreign fiancé(e) has a serious medical condition, the embassy or consulate may be able to expedite the application.
National interest: In rare cases, if there is a national interest involved, such as if the foreign national fiancé(e) is a prominent business leader or scholar who can contribute to the U.S. economy or society, the embassy or consulate may be able to expedite the processing of the application.
To request expedited processing, the petitioner or foreign national fiancé(e) should contact the embassy or consulate handling the application and provide documentation to support the request.
What documents are required for the K1 visa interview?
- Passport, DS-160 confirmation page, Appointment letter.
- Birth certificate: The original or certified copy of the foreign national fiancé(e)’s birth certificate.
- Police certificate: a police certificate from the foreign national fiancé(e)s country of citizenship and any other countries where they have lived for more than 6 months since age 16.
- Medical examination report by a panel physician approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Evidence of financial support: tax returns and employment verification.
- Evidence of relationship: photographs, travel itineraries, etc.
- Divorce or death certificates to show that the previous marriage has ended.
- Evidence of intent to marry: statement of intent to marry or evidence of wedding planning.
Can I get a K-1 visa without meeting in person?
In general, obtaining a K-1 visa without meeting your fiancé(e) in person is impossible. The Petitioner and Beneficiary must have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the K-1 petition.
There are exceptions: when meeting in person would violate cultural or religious customs, or when medical reasons prevent the U.S. citizen petitioner from traveling. However, these exceptions are rare and require significant documentation to support the claim.
Even if you meet one of the exceptions, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. embassy or consulate may still require additional evidence of the relationship and may delay the processing of the K-1 visa application.
What are the typical questions officers ask at the K-1 visa interview?
The questions asked during a K-1 visa interview may vary depending on the consulate or embassy, the interview officer, and the case’s specific circumstances. However, here are some common questions that may be asked:
- What is your name and your fiancé(e)’s name?
- How did you and your fiancé(e) meet?
- When did you first meet in person?
- How long have you been in a relationship?
- What are your fiancé(e)’s plans for coming to the United States?
- Do you have any criminal history or immigration violations?
- How do you plan to support yourselves in the United States?
- What is your fiancé(e)’s current job or occupation?
- Have you met your fiancé(e)’s family?
- Do you have any wedding plans or arrangements?
- What is your fiancé(e)’s address in the United States?
- Have you or your fiancé(e) been married before?
- Have you or your fiancé(e) ever filed for bankruptcy or had financial difficulties?
- Do you have any previous travel history to the United States?
- Have you completed all the required medical examinations and vaccinations?
It’s important to be prepared to answer these questions truthfully and provide any additional information or documentation requested by the officer.
What are the weirdest questions petitioners were asked at the K-1 interview?
- How long have you been a vampire? (Reported by a petitioner in Romania)
- How many windows are in your fiancé(e)’s apartment? (Reported by a petitioner in Russia)
- How many apartments are in your fiancé(e)’s building? (Reported by a petitioner in Russia)
- What is the brand of toothpaste that you and your fiancé(e) use? (Reported by a petitioner in China)
- How many pictures are hanging on the walls of your fiancé(e)’s home? (Reported by a petitioner in the Philippines)
These questions are not typical and may have been asked by an individual officer for specific reasons related to the case. It’s always best to answer all questions truthfully and to provide any requested information or documentation.
If my partner is a green card holder, not a U.S. citizen, can I still apply for the K-1 visa?
No, if your partner is a green card holder (a lawful permanent resident) and not a U.S. citizen, you are not eligible to apply for a K-1 visa. The K-1 visa is only available for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens. However, other options are available for you to come to the United States to be with your partner.
Marriage-based green card. As the spouse of a green card holder, you may be eligible to apply for a family-based visa or adjust your status to a permanent resident. However, the process can be complex and may require significant documentation and evidence to prove the authenticity of your relationship.
A different type of visa, such as a tourist visa or a student visa, if you meet the eligibility requirements.
It’s always best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to explore your options and determine the best course of action based on your specific circumstances.
Do I need an affidavit of support for the K-1 visa?
Yes, as a K-1 visa applicant, you must provide evidence that you have sufficient financial support to cover your expenses and avoid becoming a public charge in the United States. This is typically demonstrated through an Affidavit of Support.
The Affidavit of Support shows that the petitioner has enough income and/or assets to support the K-1 visa applicant, at least at 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. The petitioner must complete Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support) and provide supporting documents, such as tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and proof of assets.
What are the financial requirements for the K-1 visa?
To meet the financial requirements for the K-1 visa, the petitioner must show that their household income is at least 100% of the federal poverty guidelines. The exact amount will depend on the petitioner’s household size and location. For example, as of 2023, the minimum annual income for a household of two in the contiguous United States is $22,880.
If the petitioner’s income falls below the minimum required amount, they may be able to use assets or a joint sponsor to meet the financial requirements. Assets may include savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate. A joint sponsor agrees to take legal responsibility for financially supporting the K-1 visa applicant if the petitioner cannot do so.
Are the income requirements for the K-1 visa easier than for the marriage green card?
The income requirements for the K-1 visa and the marriage-based green card are the same. In both cases, the petitioner must show sufficient income or assets to support the foreign fiancé(e) or spouse at 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.
If the petitioner’s income falls below the minimum required amount, they may need to use assets or a joint sponsor to meet the financial requirements for the green card application.
Why would a K-1 visa be denied?
There are several reasons why a K-1 visa may be denied. Some common reasons include:
- Failure to meet the eligibility requirements, such as being legally able to marry, having a bona fide relationship, and passing background and security checks.
- Incomplete or inaccurate documentation, such as a birth certificate, passport, and police certificate, along with the application.
- Concerns about fraud or misrepresentation: if there are concerns that the relationship between the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign fiancé(e) is not genuine.
- Inadmissibility: if the foreign fiancé(e) is inadmissible to the United States for any reason, such as a criminal history or a medical condition.
- Other reasons, such as a failure to attend the visa interview or a failure to demonstrate sufficient financial support.
It’s important to note that a visa denial is not always the end of the road. In some cases, it may be possible to appeal the decision or apply again.
Can you file a K-1 visa application online?
Yes, the initial K-1 visa petition can be filed online through the USCIS website. The USCIS offers an online system called the Electronic Filing System (ELIS) that allows petitioners to create an account, complete and submit forms, and track the status of their case online.
If you are going to send the petition by mail, the form should be filed at the USCIS lockbox facility that serves the petitioner’s area of residence. The specific address to mail the form depends on the state where the petitioner lives and the type of delivery service used.
After the initial petition is approved, the K-1 visa application process also involves an in-person interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign fiancé(e)’s home country. This part of the process cannot be completed online and requires the foreign fiancé(e) to appear in person for the interview.
Can I reschedule my interview with another country's U.S. embassy or consulate?
Generally, it is possible to schedule an interview with a U.S. embassy or consulate in a country different from your home country. This is known as “third-country national processing.” The availability and procedures for third-country national processing vary depending on the embassy or consulate and the country in question. Here are some important points to consider:
Eligibility: Not all embassies or consulates accept third-country national processing. It’s important to check the website of the specific embassy or consulate where you wish to schedule the interview to determine if they allow third-country national processing and if there are any restrictions or limitations.
Residency requirements: Some embassies or consulates may require that you be a resident of the country where you are applying. They may ask for proof of residency, such as a valid visa or residence permit. It’s crucial to review the specific requirements and guidelines provided by the embassy or consulate for third-country national processing.
Documentation: When scheduling an interview as a third-country national, you may need to provide additional documentation to justify your request. This can include explaining the reason for scheduling the interview in that particular country and demonstrating your eligibility for the visa or immigration benefit you are seeking.
Consular jurisdiction: Each embassy or consulate has a consular jurisdiction, which generally determines where they accept applications and conduct interviews. If you schedule an interview in a different country, you may need to demonstrate a legitimate connection to that jurisdiction or provide a valid reason for choosing that location.
It is important to consult the website of the specific U.S. embassy or consulate where you wish to apply as a third-country national for detailed instructions and requirements.
Additionally, it is advisable to contact the embassy or consulate directly if you have any questions or need clarification on their policies regarding third-country national processing. We can do it for you! Please book a consultation here. The initial consultation fee will be credited to the case fee if you hire us – all consultations for the clients are free and unlimited.