29 Jul K-1 Visa – Visas for Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizens
A K-1 nonimmigrant visa permits a foreign-born fiancé(e) to come to the United States on the condition that they marry their U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. This process allows the foreign-born spouse to apply for a more permanent form of citizenship, such as the Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), and receive a green card after the marriage occurs.
To be eligible for a K-1 visa, both the U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign-born fiancé(e) must meet the following conditions:
- The petitioner is a U.S. Citizen;
- Legal permanent residents may not submit an I-129F on behalf of a foreign-born fiancé(e).
- Both parties intend to marry one another within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s admission into the United States on a K-1 visa;
- Both parties can legally marry in the United States.
- Government documents, such as divorce papers or a death certificate, must be present to support the legal termination of any previous marriages.
- The U.S. citizen sponsor and foreign fiancé(e) met each other in person at least one time in the two years before filing for a K-1 visa.
- A request may be submitted to waive the required meeting if it can be proven that the meeting would:
- Violate strict and long-established customs of the fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
- Result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen petitioner.
- A request may be submitted to waive the required meeting if it can be proven that the meeting would:
Applying for a K-1 Visa
File Petition for Fiancé(e) with USCIS
The first step to a K-1 visa is for the U.S. citizen to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), on behalf of the foreign-born fiancé(e). The sponsor must file this form with the USCIS office that directly serves the area in which the U.S. citizen lives. It cannot be filed at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or USCIS office outside the U.S.
The USCIS will then review this form and any other documents submitted. The USCIS may send a “Request of Evidence” if any additional information or documentation is necessary. If the petition is approved, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) to be processed and eventually sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate after it is assigned a case number. If it is denied, the USCIS will formally notify the petitioner of this denial and explain why the petition was denied.
Once approved, the petition and Form I-129F will remain valid for four months following the date of approval. During these four months, the foreign-born fiancé(e) must apply for their K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
NOTE: A consular officer can extend the validity period for K-1 visa applications if the visa processing is not complete before the expiration date.
Steps for Foreign-born Fiancé(e)
Once the U.S. Embassy or Consulate receives the approved petition for Form I-129, a consular officer will contact the foreign fiancé(e) with the necessary instructions and forms needed for the K-1 visa. Additionally, the consular officer will typically include the location of the required medical examination facility. A physician that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate authorizes must administer the exam.
The next step toward applying for the K-1 visa is that the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) will need to fill out Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
After these forms are all submitted, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the fiancé(e) lives will reach out to the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to communicate the time and place of the K-1 visa interview.
The Interview Process
What to Expect with a K-1 Visa Interview
This interview serves two purposes: to determine the validity of the potential marriage and prevent attempts to enter into the U.S. solely for immigration purposes. It should not be stressful for those in a legitimate relationship. Answer each question to the best of your knowledge and be confident. In most cases, this interview does not last more than 30 minutes.
NOTE: The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) may attend the interview to provide moral support, but only with prior approval from the embassy where the specific interview occurs.
Example K-1 Visa Interview Questions
As stated above, the purpose for these questions is to determine whether the marriage is legitimate and may include inquiries related to the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) themselves, the U.S. citizen sponsor, the relationship, and the wedding. Here are some examples of questions that could be included in a K-1 interview.
- What are your academic qualifications?
- What languages do you (the foreign-citizen fiancé) speak?
- When do you intend to enter the U.S.?
- What is your fiancé’s name?
- What are your fiancé’s favorite things to do in their free time?
- Does your fiancé(e) have any siblings or close family?
- How did you meet your fiancé(e) and where?
- How do you and your fiancé(e) communicate during long-distance parts of your relationship?
- Do you know where you will be hosting your wedding?
- Are you planning on going on a honeymoon?
Examples of Red Flags at the K-1 Visa Interview
These are critical scenarios to consider. Any red flags during the interview could cause the consular officer to believe the marriage has alternative motives. While identifying with one of the scenarios below does not prevent one’s ability to get a visa, the process may become much more complicated if the consular officer has cause to be suspicious.
- A significant age difference is present between the two fiancés.
- The future spouses do not speak the same languages and would be unable to communicate.
- The couple demonstrates an inability to provide information about the other fiancé(e)’s family, friends, or other evidence that would prove a genuine relationship.
- The relationship was kept a secret from family and friends.
- The fiancé(e)s provide different information for the same questions.
- The U.S. citizen has previously petitioned for a K-1 visa or marriage-based green card in the past.
- The foreign-citizen fiancé(e) has previously been married or applied for a K-1 visa with a different U.S. citizen.
What to Bring to a K-1 Visa Interview
The foreign-citizen fiance(e) must be sure to bring all required documents and items to the interview. Having access to the required documents will help avoid an interview delay or denial. Here is a list of necessary items.
- Completed Form DS-160 and a printed DS-160 confirmation page
- Each K-visa applicant will need a completed application
- A passport that is valid for a minimum of six months after the predetermined period of stay in the U.S.
- Some countries have specific agreements and exemptions regarding this validity period. Consult an immigration attorney for more information.
- Birth certificate
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any former spouse(s) that are applicable for both the U.S. citizen and foreign-born fiancé(e)
- Police certificates from the foreign citizen’s present country of residence and all other countries they have lived in since the age of 16
- Medical records from the required medical examination
- Evidence of financial support that proves the fiancé(e) will be financially self-sufficient
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support
- The consular officer assigned to the case may request this form
- Two 2×2 photographs
- More information about the specific requirements is available on the U.S. Department of State’s website
- Any proof of a legitimate relationship with the U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
- Children that are eligible and apply for K-2 visas are required to attend and bring these same documents and forms to the visa interview.
After the interview, a Department of State consular officer will determine whether the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) qualifies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa. If the visa is granted, the foreign-born fiancé(e) must apply for admission to a U.S. port-of-entry within a maximum of six months from the date that the visa was issued. Along with the issuance of the K-1 visa, the foreign spouse will receive a sealed package containing all civil documents the fiancé(e) provided and other documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This package is to be opened only by a DHS immigration official when the fiancé(e) enters the U.S.
NOTE: As with any visa, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa does not guarantee admission to the United States. A Customs Border and Patrol officer at the port of entry will make the ultimate decision about whether to admit the foreign fiancé(e).
It is required that the couple marries within 90 days of the foreign-born fiancé(e)’s arrival to the U.S. as a K-1 nonimmigrant.
Failure to Marry Within 90 Days
If the marriage fails to happen within 90 days of the foreign citizen fiancé(e) entering the U.S., the K-1 nonimmigrant visa will automatically expire. An extension is not available for this time frame.
Following this expiration, the foreign-born fiancé(e) and all of their children applying for a K-2 visa will need to leave the U.S. If the fiancé(e) and children fail to leave immediately, they may be subject to deportation. Furthermore, failure to leave the United States as directed will affect any future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits.
If the U.S. citizen marries the foreign-born fiancé(e) 90 days after their entry, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative may be filed. Usually, a foreign fiancé(e) may not apply for a Green Card on any other basis besides marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Permission to Work in the U.S.
After being admitted to the U.S. via a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, the foreign citizen fiancé(e) may file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to be approved to work in the U.S. To file the I-765, the fiancé(e) must show a copy of their K-1 visa along with evidence of their official admission to the United States.
Unfortunately, this work authorization is only valid for the first 90 days after entry into the United States. USCIS routinely needs at least three months to issue an individual work permit, making it very difficult for a fiancé(e) with a K-1 visa to be approved and begin working before this 90-day period ends.
Due to this difficulty, it is generally better to apply for permanent residency to adjust status. The foreign-citizen fiancé(e) can prepare by filling out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Adjusting Status & Obtaining a Green Card
After the marriage takes place within 90-days after U.S. entry, the foreign citizen spouse may apply for a Green Card. , which can be filed before or at the same time that the foreign-citizen spouse files Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS.
USCIS will then review Form I-485 and all required documents submitted by the foreign-citizen spouse to determine eligibility. The USCIS may request more evidence if they need additional documentation or information.
Typically, USCIS will require both spouses to appear for an interview.
If you were married for less than two years from when Form I-458 is approved, then USCIS will grant the foreign-citizen spouse conditional permanent resident status and issue a Green Card valid for two years.
For that spouse to remove conditional permanent resident status and become a permanent resident, they must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within 90 days before their Green Card expires.
Children of Fiancé(e)
Suppose the foreign citizen fiancé(e) has a child under 21 years of age and is unmarried. In that case, the child may be eligible to come to the U.S. on a K-2 nonimmigrant visa, based on approval of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). For this approval, the U.S. citizen must list each of the foreign citizen fiancé(e)’s children on Form I-129F. The U.S. citizen only needs to file one petition under Form I-129F for the future spouse and all children under the condition that the children accompany the foreign-born fiancé(e) or travel to the U.S. within a year from the issuance date of the K-1 visa.
However, each child needs a separate DS-160 form when applying for a K-2 visa. Additionally, each applicant will be required to pay a visa application fee.
Children will not be eligible to receive K-2 visas if they travel later than one year from the issuance of the fiancé(e)’s K-1 visa. In that case, they would need to file separate immigrant visa petitions.
Once you and your fiancé(e) become married, each of your fiancé(e)’s children must file a separate Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. K-2 nonimmigrant children should apply for a Green Card at the same time or after the foreign-citizen spouse.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I expect to get my K visa after applying?
For Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), processing can take between 6-9 months, depending on when USCIS processes it.
Once the National Visa Center receives your case, they send it to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The length of time for these steps varies from case to case.
Some cases experience delays because applicants do not follow instructions carefully, there was incomplete information, or the case requires further administrative processing.
Does my U.S. citizen fiancé(e) need to file separate petitions for my children?
Yes, see section “Children of Fiancé(e)” above.
Are My Children Required to Travel with Me?
No, see section “Children of Fiancé(e)” above.
What happens if the initial U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I sent my DS-160 is different from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where I have my interview appointment?
There is a barcode on the confirmation sheet for the DS-160. That bar code allows the Embassy or Consulate to access your form. Be sure to bring this DS-160 confirmation page to the interview to ensure that the consular officers can access your documents. Scheduling the interview appointment using the barcode from your completed DS-160 application allows the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to accept your DS-160, even if it lists a different U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the original application.
Is a family or group application available if I am traveling with a group of people?
Yes. When “Email Confirmation” is selected on the confirmation page for the DS-160 application, a “Thank You” page appears. From there, the option to create a family or group application is available. Selecting the group option allows for specific information from that specific application, such as the destination, to be imported and displayed on the new application automatically. However, when using this option, the applicant must create separate applications for each individual in the family or group.
Why Hire an Immigration Attorney?
Although one can apply for a K-1 visa without an immigration attorney, it is wise to consult and work with a lawyer to ensure that everything goes smoothly. An immigration attorney can provide important legal advice to clear up any uncertainty related to a specific marriage. A good immigration lawyer can also provide insight that can help ensure the future of one’s U.S. citizenship. The K-1 visa process can be long and difficult. Many difficulties and time delays result from a lack of knowledge and skills to identify the countless issues that may arise during a fiancé(e) visa application process.
At Oasis Legal Group, we have the resources to assist with a K-1 visa application in the best way possible. Our attorneys specialize not only in immigration law but also family law, allowing for a more specialized approach to the K-1 visa application. In addition, our attorneys and paralegals are constantly updating their legal assistance according to the changes in immigration law, including legal alternatives, for their clients.
Oasis Legal Group maintains transparency through text, video chat, and phone calls to make the process as easy as possible for clients in Madison, WI, and around the world. We also offer document sharing, online signatures, photo printing, USCIS packaging standards, and process tracking information. Our clients find that Oasis Legal Group makes the entire process simpler and easier.
Resources mentioned in this blog –
- Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
- Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence
- Department of State Website – Passport Photo Info