The Complete Guide to Understanding K-1 Visas
What Is a K-1 Visa?
A K-1 visa, often referred to as the fiancé(e) visa, is a nonimmigrant visa issued by the United States to the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to enter the United States and marry their U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.
The foreign citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the applicant to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen fiancé shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some but not all of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.
Basic Requirements (for U.S. Petitioning Sponsor)
- You are a U.S. citizen.
- You have met your fiancé(e) in person within the previous two years.
- You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry.
- You and your alien fiancée both have a sincere intent to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S.
- You can meet the minimum income requirement for a K-1 visa.
K-1 Visa Application Process
- The initial petition, Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), is filed at one of the five U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Centers that process all of the K visa petitions in the U.S. If there are any missing documents or incorrect paperwork, you will receive a Request for Evidence (“RFE”). Each RFE will delay the approval of your petition, and ultimately the approval and issuance of your K-1 fiancée visa. Thus, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing your petition.
- When USCIS has approved the initial petition, the case is forwarded to the National Visa Center (“NVC”), where background checks are completed on both the U.S. citizen petitioner and the alien fiancé (e). Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) will have to be completed at this time. The NVC will then forward the petition to the Consulate that will conduct the visa interview.
- Once the approved petition and background checks have been received by the U.S. Consulate having jurisdiction over the city in which the fiancée is legally residing, the Consulate will instruct the fiancée to obtain a medical exam at a clinic specified by the Consulate and to report for the visa interview on a specified date. If the fiancée passes the medical exam and the interview is successful, the K-1 fiancée visa will normally be issued within the following one to two weeks.
What About the Green Card After My Fiancé(e) Enters the U.S.?
After your fiancé(e) enters the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé(e) visa and marries you within 90 days of arrival, he or she will be allowed to remain legally in the U.S. and will need to file for a Green Card. The Green Card process is referred to as Adjustment of Status.
Final Consideration Regarding the Challenge of Obtaining a K-1 Visa
Recent efforts by various US Embassies to more closely scrutinize K-1 visa applications have resulted in some unexpected delays and or rejection of visas. This heightened scrutiny or vetting is coming from countries where suspicion of fraud is high and/or where the couple appears to be ignoring established cultural norms for marriages and weddings.
In such cases, the petitioner and beneficiary may need to present additional evidence to obtain a successful result. In these cases, be prepared to provide additional evidence to obtain your K1 Fiancé Visa approval, including:
- Access to all social media accounts;
- Proof of continuous communication between the couple while apart;
- Additional photographs showing that the couple has spent meaningful time together;
- Evidence that accommodations have been reserved for a wedding ceremony and reception;
- List of guests with contact information;
- Affidavits or sworn statements from parents stating that they are aware of the wedding plans of their child and approve of the marriage.
Expert Tips for Successfully Navigating the K-1 Visa Process
To ensure a successful outcome, follow these tips when obtaining a K-1 visa:
- Start Early: Begin the application process as soon as possible to allow time for any potential delays or obstacles.
- Be Thorough and Accurate: Make sure all forms and documents are completed accurately and thoroughly to avoid any RFEs.
- Seek Professional Help: Consider hiring an experienced immigration attorney to assist you with the application process and to navigate any legal challenges that may arise.
- Maintain Communication with Embassy/Consulate: Stay in communication with the embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will have their visa interview to ensure that you are aware of any changes or updates to the application process.
- Be Prepared for Additional Scrutiny: Be prepared to provide additional evidence and information, if requested, to address any concerns that the embassy/consulate may have during the application process.
- Stay Organized: Keep all documents and evidence organized and easily accessible in case they are needed during the application process.
- Be Flexible: Be prepared for unexpected delays or changes to the application process, as these can often occur with visa applications.
A skilled immigration attorney will be able to guide you through the application process and help you overcome any challenges that may arise, ensuring a successful outcome for you and your foreign fiancé(e). With proper preparation and attention to detail, obtaining a K-1 visa and permanent residence in the U.S. is achievable, allowing you to quickly begin building a life with your loved one.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Applying for a K-1 visa and navigating the immigration system can be a complex and daunting process. It is important to have the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney who can help you understand the requirements, gather necessary evidence, and ensure that your application is thorough and accurate.
Contact our family immigration lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss your options and begin the process of bringing your loved one to the U.S. within the shortest possible time.
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