K1 Fiancé(e) Visa
A K1 visa allows a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States as a non-immigrant, get married shortly after his or her arrival, and adjust status to that of a permanent resident after marriage.
K1 visa is very useful, and even necessary, in cases where an American citizen cannot legally marry his/her fiancé(e) in a foreign country due to local laws, traditions, or religious reasons. Sometimes couples prefer to have their wedding in the United States and K1 visa will be the way to go.
Since K1 visa is one of the fastest ways to immigrate to the U.S., it has been a favorite vehicle used in visa fraud. For this reason USCIS and consular officers closely scrutinize K1 visa applications, in an attempt to detect marriage fraud and scams.
See detailed comparison between K1 and K3
What is a fiancé(e)?
A fiancé(e) is a person engaged to get married. Fiancé refers to a man who is about to be married; an engaged woman is called fiancée.
What are the general requirements for a K1 visa?
- The marriage must be legally possible in the state of residence of the U.S. citizen, e.g., both people must be of legal age to get married;
- Any previous marriages, if any, must have properly and legally ended;
- The two parties must have met in person at least once within the past two years. The only exception is when such a meeting is prohibited because of cultural or religious traditions, for which USCIS may grant a waiver to this requirement.
- They must prove that financially they are unlikely to become public charges, through the use of Affidavit of Support (Form I-134);
- Although K1 belongs to the non-immigrant visa (NIV) category, a fiance (fiancee) is also considered an immigrant and as a result, must be eligible for an immigrant visa.
How to apply for a K1 visa?
- You, the American citizen, need to file form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You cannot file this petition at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
- If I-129F is approved, USCIS sends the petition to National Visa Center (NVC), operated by the Department of State;
- NVC processes the case and forwards it to the embassy or consulate where your fiance or fiancee will apply for a K1 visa;
- U.S. embassy or consulate sends out instructions on medical examinations, visa interview, supporting documents, etc.
- Your fiance (fiancee) and you prepare all the documents, and schedule an interview appointment;
- The I-129F is valid for four months after its approval, but a consular officer can revalidate it if needed, especially if it takes several months to schedule an appointment;
- Your fiance (fiancee) attends the interview with a Consular Officer, answers questions and presents evidence to demonstrate a bona fide fiancé(e) relationship, financial support, eligibility for an immigrant visa, and so on;
- If the interview goes well, your fiance (fiancee) will receive a K1 visa on his or her passport. If further evidence is required, your fiancé(e) may be asked to submit more documents before a visa can be issued. If the consulate official determines that the petition must be denied, they will send it back to the USCIS and no visa will be issued.
What happens next after getting a K1 visa?
- With a K1 visa, your fiancé (fiancée) can enter the U.S. through a port of entry;
- The marriage must take place within 90 days after his or her arrival; if not, or if your fiancé(e) marries someone else instead, he or she is required to leave the United States;
- After marriage, your fiance (fiancee) should file I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, with a USCIS service that has jurisdiction over your area of residence;
- Your fiance (fiancee) may also apply for employment authorization (EAD) in order to work, and advance parole (AP) for travel purposes;
- You and your fiance (fiancee) go to a local USCIS office for an interview;
- If I-485 is approved, your fiance (fiancee) will receive a permanent resident card (aka green card). If at time of approval the marriage is less than two years old, the green card will be conditional and only valid for two years. Form I-751 must be filed within 90 days before the expiration date of the conditional green card to remove the conditions.
- If it is already two years into your marriage when I-485 is approved, your fiancé(e), now spouse, will receive a regular green card valid for 10 years;
- Three years after your spouse receives the (conditional) green card, he or she will be eligible for U.S. citizenship.
What evidence is required to prove a fiancé(e) relationship?
As you can see, proof of a bona fide (good faith) fiancé(e) relationship is critical in a successful K1 application. However, each person's situation is unique and there is no standard way to prove a real relationship. You should prepare documents such as photos, email and letter correspondence, travel arrangement to see each other, phone bills showing you two calling each other, wedding plans, and any other evidence that will help convince a consular officer that you and your fiancé(e) have good faith of getting married.
Should I use I-864 or I-134 for Affidavit of Support?
For the K-1 visa application, I-134 should be used since a fiance (fiancee) is a nonimmigrant visa applicant. For I-485 adjustment of status after marriage, I-864 should be used.
How to extend I-129F validity?
An approved I-129F petition is valid for four months. If it is not enough time to complete a K1 visa application, you should contact the consulate to request an extension of the petition (revalidation). The embassy or consulate where you will file the visa petition should have instructions on how to extend an I-129F, and it generally involves you sending a letter to the consulate explaining why such extension is needed.
How to extend a K-1 visa?
K1 is a one-entry visa valid for six months only, during which a fiance (fiancee) may travel to a Port of Entry (POE) of the United States. Having a K1 visa doesn't guarantee admission, however. An immigration official at the POE will conduct inspection and determine whether the visa holder is allowed to enter the U.S.
After entering the US you and your fiance (fiancee) must get married within 90 days. The K-1 status cannot be extended beyond the 90-day limit, nor can it be changed to another non-immigrant status.
Can a K-1 visa holder travel outside the United States?
Since K1 is a one-entry visa, you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. using the same visa. You should apply for a travel document (Advance Parole, Form I-131) while filing for adjustment of status. After AP is approved you may leave and return to the U.S.
Can a K-1 visa holder work in the United States?
The bearer of a K1 visa may work in the United State only after receiving an employment authorization document (EAD). You can apply for EAD using Form I-765, with USCIS.
What is a conditional green card?
See here for more information on conditional green card and how to remove conditions.
Can children of a K1 visa holder come to the United States?
Yes. Unmarried children of a K1 fiance (fiancee) are eligible for K2 visas, as derivative beneficiaries of their parent's I-129F petition. The U.S. citizen must include any child in the same I-129F petition filed for the fiance (fiancee). A K2 child may accompany the K1 visa holder to enter the U.S., or come later (follow-to-join) within one year of K1 approval.
A K2 child may apply for adjustment of status at the same time his/her parent files I-485, but a separate I-485 petition is required for each child.
Note that the definition of a child is quite complex for immigration matters.
What is International Marriage Broker Regulation Act?
The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) of 2005 is designed to protect immigrant women and children during international marriage trades, such as mail-order brides. IMBRA requires that U.S. citizens who wish to file K visa petitions for an alien fiancé(e) (K-1) or alien spouse (K-3) must declare on Form I-129F any criminal convictions of the petitioner for a list of specified crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, stalking, etc. It also imposes limitations on the number of K1 petitions a U.S. citizen may file. Check out this USCIS memo on IMBRA for more information.
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