Understanding the K-1 Visa: A Pathway for Fiancés and Fiancées of U.S. Citizens

The K-1 visa, commonly known as the fiancé(e) visa, allows foreign nationals who are engaged to U.S. citizens to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married. This visa category is designed to unite couples and facilitate their transition to married life in the U.S. Here, we will explore who is eligible for the K-1 visa, the steps to obtain it, and the essential requirements.

Who is Eligible for the K-1 Visa?

To be eligible for the K-1 visa, certain conditions must be met:

  1. U.S. Citizen Petitioner: The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) cannot sponsor a fiancé(e) for a K-1 visa.
  2. Intent to Marry: Both the petitioner and the beneficiary (foreign fiancé(e)) must intend to marry each other within 90 days of the fiancé(e) entering the United States.
  3. Legally Free to Marry: Both parties must be legally free to marry, meaning any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, annulment, or death.
  4. Meeting Requirement: The couple must have met in person at least once within the two years prior to filing the petition, unless meeting in person would violate strict cultural, religious customs, or result in extreme hardship.

Steps to Obtain a K-1 Visa

  1. File Form I-129F:
    • The U.S. citizen petitioner starts the process by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Include supporting documents such as proof of citizenship, evidence of the relationship (photos, correspondence, etc.), and the meeting requirement.
  2. USCIS Processing:
    • USCIS reviews the petition and may request additional evidence if needed. Once approved, USCIS forwards the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  3. NVC Processing:
    • The NVC assigns a case number and forwards the petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate where the foreign fiancé(e) will apply for the K-1 visa.
  4. Consular Processing:
    • The foreign fiancé(e) completes the DS-160 form (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) and schedules a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
    • Gather required documents such as a valid passport, birth certificate, police certificates, medical examination results, proof of the relationship, and evidence of intent to marry within 90 days.
  5. Attend the Visa Interview:
    • The foreign fiancé(e) attends the interview, bringing all required documentation. The consular officer will assess the eligibility and may ask questions about the relationship and future plans.
  6. Receive the Visa:
    • If approved, the K-1 visa is issued, allowing the foreign fiancé(e) to travel to the United States.
  7. Enter the U.S. and Marry:
    • The foreign fiancé(e) enters the U.S. and must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of arrival.
  8. Apply for Adjustment of Status:
    • After marriage, the foreign spouse can apply for adjustment of status (Form I-485) to become a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder).

Essential Requirements for K-1 Visa Applicants

  1. Evidence of Relationship:
    • Provide sufficient evidence to prove the legitimacy of the relationship, including photos, correspondence, travel records, and affidavits from friends and family.
  2. Medical Examination:
    • Complete a medical examination by a USCIS-approved physician and provide the results during the visa interview.
  3. Financial Support:
    • The U.S. citizen petitioner must demonstrate the ability to financially support the foreign fiancé(e) by submitting an affidavit of support (Form I-134).
  4. Background Checks:
    • Both parties must undergo background checks and provide police certificates from all countries where they have lived for more than six months since the age of 16.

Ready to Begin Your Journey?

Are you considering applying for a K-1 visa to bring your fiancé(e) to the United States? Contact us today to discuss your situation. Our team of immigration attorneys is dedicated to guiding you through the process and helping you start your married life in the U.S.