K-1 visa – Nonimmigrant visa for fiancé(e)

K-1 visa

A K-1 visa allows a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States for the purpose of getting married and adjusting his or her status. After arrival in the U.S, he or she has 90 days to marry the U.S. petitioner fiancé(e).  Thereafter, he or she will be eligible to apply for a Green Card through adjustment of status.  In order to obtain a fiancé(e) visa, the U.S. citizen and his or her fiancé(e) must have met each other at least once during the past 2 years before submitting the petition.  In some circumstances, this requirement can be waived: for instance, if it would pose an extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen to meet his or her fiancé(e) in person, or if meeting with the fiancé(e) prior to the wedding would be contrary to the traditions or culture of the parties.

Within 90 days after arrival in the U.S. on a K-1 visa, the U.S. citizen’s fiancé(e) is required to marry the U.S. citizen petitioner or leave the country.  Otherwise, he or she will be in violation of the K-1 visa requirements and immigration law.  If the K-1 visa applicant has children, the children can also travel to the U.S. on a K-2 visa; however, in order for the children to be eligible for a K-2 visa, they must be unmarried and under age 21.

K-1 visa application process

First, the U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with the USCIS in the United States.  Once the petition is approved and sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), the U.S. citizen’s fiancé(e) will start the K-1 visa application process at the U.S. Embassy in the country of his or her domicile.  The fiancé(e) is required to go through a medical examination process, gather all supporting documents, and prepare for the interview, which will take place at the U.S. Embassy abroad.

Documentation and process required to apply for K-1 Visa

  • Once the Form I-129F is approved, you (the non-U.S. applicant) have four months to apply for K-1 visa by completing Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application, online. Then you will have to print out the confirmation letter and bring it to the interview. If you do not apply for a K-1 visa during the four-month period after the approval of the petition, the petition will expire and you will have to start the process again unless you applied for an extension.
  • You will also need:
    • A passport, which has to be valid for at least 6 months after the allowed period of staying in the U.S.
    • Divorce certificates of the U.S. citizen petitioner and his or her fiancé(e) if they have been previously married. In case the prior spouses are deceased, death certificates are required.
    • Police certificates from your country of domicile as well as from all other countries where you resided for at least 6 months. Police certificates are also required for the visa applicant’s children who are at least 16 years old.
    • Medical examination and vaccination, which must be performed by a doctor certified by the U.S. consulate.
    • Completed Form I-134, which is the affidavit of support evidencing that you will not become a public charge (a person dependent on government support) after you arrive in the U.S.
    • Two passport-size photographs for the applicant.
    • Photographs, affidavits, and other evidence to show that the relationship between the petitioner and his or her fiancé(e) exists and is bona fide.
    • Application fees.

Keep in mind that even though the general information regarding the visa application process is the same, U.S. consulates abroad might have some additional requirements.  Therefore, it is advisable to read the instructions on the consulate’s website before starting to gather the documents.

K-1 petition and visa processing times

The I-129F petition (for unmarried petitioner) processing time as of November 7, 2016 is 5 months in every USCIS service center.  After the petition is approved and sent to NVC, the visa application process starts.  The visa processing time varies depending on the consulate and how complete the visa application documentation is.  The U.S. consulate might also need some additional time for administrative processing.

After K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa is Granted

When you recieve the visa you will also receive a sealed package, which should be opened by a U.S. immigration officer at the border when you are entering the United States.  If your children obtained K-2 visas, they can either travel with you or join you later.

After you arrive in the United States, you have 90 days to marry your fiancé(e).  Thereafter, you can submit an application (Form I-485) for adjustment of status to obtain a Green Card.  Your children will have to submit the application for adjustment of status separately.

You can also apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS.  During the period of adjustment of status, if you will need to leave the country, you can apply for advance parole, which will let you travel without “abandoning” your application.

Please keep in mind that your Green Card will be conditional and will expire in 2 years.  Within the 90 days before it expires, you will have to apply for removal of the conditions by filing Form I-751 with the USCIS.

Should you have any questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me by submitting the form or by calling me at (917) 426-8227 or (248) 979-5390.  I accept clients from across the U.S. and around the world.  My law offices are conveniently located in Lower Manhattan, New York and in Troy, Michigan for in-person meetings.  For phone consultation, you can reach me from any part of the United States or abroad.