The following subjects have been explored in detail throughout this site. This section will summarize some of the most common questions and areas of confusion regarding K1 visas.
What is a fiancé visa?
A fiancée visa allows an American citizen to bring a foreign future spouse to the US. Obtaining a fiancé visa, also spelled fiancé visa and called a K-1 or K1 visa, is generally considered the fastest and most efficient way for an individual to immigrate to the US for the purpose of marriage.
Who can apply for a K1 visa?
In order to apply for a fiancée visa, you must be a US citizen. You cannot file for a fiancé visa if you are living in the US as a permanent resident or with a green card; you must have full citizenship. You may not have committed certain crimes, and you must be able to demonstrate on your petition that you have the financial means to support yourself and your future spouse if he or she receives a K-1 visa.
You must have met your fiancée at least once in the past two years, barring cultural requirements or certain cases of extreme hardship. You must also be legally free to marry, meaning you and your fiancée are separated from previous marriages by divorce, annulment, or death. Finally, you must intend to marry your fiancée within 90 days of his or her arrival with a K1 visa.
What can you do with a K-1 visa?
A fiancée visa will allow your future spouse to travel to the US and remain for 90 days, during which time the two of you can get married. A K1 visa permits only one entry into the US, so your future spouse cannot leave the country and return within these 90 days. After your marriage, your spouse can remain in the country and pursue citizenship.
What if my fiancée and I decide not to get married?
If you do not get married, your fiancée must leave the country within 90 days, when the K-1 visa expires, to avoid violating US immigration law. His or her children must also depart. Keep in mind that your fiancée must marry the US citizen who filed the original petition; he or she cannot come to the US and marry a different American citizen using the same K1 visa.
What if my fiancée stays in the US on a K-1 visa, even if we don’t get married within 90 days?
Overstaying the 90-day limit on a fiancé visa without marrying an American citizen is a violation of immigration law. Your fiancée may be found guilty of immigration fraud, since immigration officials may assume that he or she lied on her application and interview about plans for marriage. Your fiancée may face serious consequences, such as deportation, fines of up to $10,000, jail time of up to five years, and denial of future immigration benefits.
How do I apply for a fiancée visa?
Obtaining a fiancé visa requires two major steps. First, the American citizen submits Form I-129F to USCIS. This is a petition to bring a foreign citizen to the US as your fiancée. This form is reviewed by USCIS, passed to the National Visa Center for additional processing, and then sent to the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate in your fiancée’s home country.
At this point, your fiancée must apply for a nonimmigrant visa, meaning a visa that in itself will not allow your future spouse to live permanently in the US. In order to obtain this visa, your spouse will need to undergo appropriate medical examinations and submit other personal documents and evidence. The same is required for children applying for K-2 visas to accompany your fiancée to the US.
Finally, you future spouse will be interviewed at the US Consulate or Embassy. Assuming the interview goes will, he or she will receive a fiancée visa. Your fiancé visa lawyer will understand the nuances of this process, and can ensure that you follow all steps correctly and include the necessary evidence to obtain a fiancé visa.
What if my petition for a fiancée visa is denied?
If you are denied a fiancé visa, you may appeal this decision. Your letter of denial will include instructions for appealing. Generally you must file your appeal within a month of the denial. You submit your appeal to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), who will forward it to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) for review. Your K1 visa lawyer can help you present evidence demonstrating why your future spouse should receive a fiancée visa, using precedents and immigration law to prove this point.
Can I apply for a fiancé visa more than once?
If for some reason your fiancée leaves before the 90 days are over, or the two of your get divorced, you can apply for a second fiancée visa. You may wish to do so if your fiancée wants to return to the US and try again, or if you wish to marry someone else who is not an American citizen. However, to file a second K-1 visa application, you must wait at least two years from the date you filed your first petition.
American citizens are limited to filing two fiancé visa applications total, although a K-1 visa lawyer may be able to help you file a waiver to contest this limit. If you have been convicted of a violent crime, you will most likely be ineligible for a waiver.
How much does it cost to apply for a fiancée visa?
You must pay fees when submitting certain forms for a fiancé visa to USCIS, as well as US Embassies and Consulates. Your future spouse will also need to pay for a medical examination. The total generally comes to roughly $1,000. You may want to budget money for attorney’s fees, since hiring a fiancée visa lawyer can save you significant time, money and stress in the long run. Keep transportation costs in mind, as well as additional fees for children who are also immigrating.
How long does it take to get a fiancée visa?
Generally, the entire process takes about six to eight months. However, depending on the quality of your initial petition and nonimmigrant visa application, it may take longer to get a K-1 visa. If you make errors and leave out evidence, significant delays can occur, as USCIS will have to contact you requesting missing information. Working with an experienced K1 visa lawyer can help expedite the process and catch mistakes before submitting applications. Once your fiancée receives his or her K1 visa, he or she must enter the US within six months.
Can I apply for a fiancé visa by myself?
While it is possible to apply for a fiancée independently, without professional guidance, you are not advised to do so, largely due to delays that can occur in processing your case if you make even minor errors.
If you work with a K-1 visa lawyer, your attorney will fill out all documents and forms for you. In filing independently, you will be relying primarily on online information for guidance, some of which may be outdated. No matter how carefully you approach your K-1 visa petition, it may be impossible to prevent errors unless you work with an experienced fiancé visa lawyer. A K-1 visa lawyer will know what it takes to file a successful fiancé visa petition, and can guide both of you through the entire process, including pursuing citizenship after coming to the US. A fiancé visa lawyer will also have up-to-date information on changing immigration law.
What if my fiancée has children?
Your future spouse can usually bring his or her unmarried children under the age of 21 to the US after obtaining a fiancée visa. However, children will not be covered under your fiancée’s K1 visa. Instead, they will each require K-2 visas, which a fiancé visa lawyer can help you procure. Keep in mind that children will have to undergo the same medical screening as your future spouse, and your growing family must be able to demonstrate financial stability and the ability to support all members in the US.
Can my fiancée work in the US with a K1 visa?
Your fiancée can apply to work after entering the US with a K-1 visa. He or she can apply upon entering the country, or wait until after your marriage. If your fiancée applies upon entering the country, he or she will need to reapply after you are married, so many couples wait in order to avoid the extra hassle. To obtain a work permit your fiancée visa lawyer will help you file Form I-765 and Form I-485. Your spouse’s children who are eligible to apply for K-2 visas and relocate can also apply to work in the US.
How can my spouse get a green card after coming to the US on a fiancé visa?
After your marriage, your spouse must apply for adjustment of status, allowing him or her to remain in the US after the expiration of the fiancée visa. You must submit Form I-485, which will lead to the adjustment your spouse’s status to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).
It can take years to adjust status. However, your spouse can most likely enjoy most of the benefits of a permanent resident during the wait. Your K-1 visa lawyer can help your spouse apply for a driver’s license, a Social Security number, and documents permitting work and travel.
Your spouse must wait two years to become an LPR, in order for conditions to be removed from his or her residency status. After your request for adjustment of status is processed, you and your spouse will undergo a final interview with USCIS. If all goes well, he or she will become an LPR, receive a green card, and can move forward towards American citizenship.
How do we prove the validity of our marriage?
Since some marriages between Americans and foreign citizens occur for immigration purposes, you will need to demonstrate the validity of your marriage during your final interview. This means convincing the USCIS officer that your marriage was not made for the purpose of getting a green card.
You will need to bring evidence of your relationship, such as photos, travel documents, and bills paid together. You may be separated and asked personal questions about your marriage, the history of your relationship, and your spouse. Your fiancée visa lawyer can help prepare you for this important interview, which will result in your spouse obtaining a green card.
Glossary of Terms
Adjustment of Status: An immigrant can apply to USCIS through the DHS for an adjustment of status so that he or she gains new legal permissions and can legally stay a specified amount of time in the US. After your fiancée comes to the US with a K1 visa and you are married, he or she must apply for an adjustment of status to become an LPR.
Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU): The Washington D.C. based department that makes the final decision when it comes to upholding or overturning your appeal of the decision to deny your fiancé visa.
Affidavit of Support: Submitted via Form I-134 by a US citizen fiancée, proving that he or she can financially support a foreign fiancée, which may be necessary for him or her to obtain a K1 visa.
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services: The department that will first review your appeal if your fiancée visa is denied.
Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR): Immigration status which allows you to live legally in the US with the same privileges as permanent residents, such as traveling and working. Keep in mind that you must petition to have conditions removed. Your spouse will obtain CPR status after getting married upon coming to the US on a K-1 visa. After two years, if USCIS determines your marriage is valid, your spouse can become an LPR and obtain a non-conditional green card.
Consular Office: The office within the American embassy where potential US immigrants and visitors are interviewed before being issued fiancé visas.
Consular Officer: The immigration official working in a consular office, who will interview applicants for K1 visas and collect required documents and evidence.
Form I-129 F (Petition for Alien Fiancée): Filed by an American citizen within the US. The first step in the process of obtaining a K-1 visa for a foreign fiancée.
Form I-290B: Filed with Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), and later reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Unit, when appealing a denied K-1 visa. This form is generally accompanied by a fee.
Form I-485: Filed with USCIS after marriage to renew Form I-765. Renews permission to work after the expiration of a fiancée visa.
Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization): Form required to initially authorize legal employment for immigrants who come to the US on a K1 visa.
Inadmissibility: Immigration status indicating that an individual is ineligible to enter the US, usually due to criminal activity or having previously overstayed a visa. If you are considered inadmissible, you may have difficulty obtaining a fiancé visa.
K1 Visa: A fiancée visa. Allows your foreign future spouse to come to the US for 90 days so you can get married. He or she can then apply for adjustment of status to pursue a green card and citizenship. Keep in mind that a K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning that it alone does not lead to permanent residency, and further steps must be taken.
Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR): An immigrant living legally in the US, who has not yet obtained citizenship, but who is permitted to reside in this country permanently. Individuals who hold green cards are considered LPRs. LPRs receive many of the same benefits as citizens. If your spouse comes to the US with a fiancé visa, he or she may be able to become an LPR after two years of marriage, at which time the conditions can be removed from his or her residence status.
National Visa Center (NVC): The office that receives your fiancée visa petition from USCIS and forwards it to a US Embassy or Consulate in your fiancée’s home country. The NVC also conducts a background check on your fiancée to verify information in the petition.
Panel Physician: A physician who has been appointed by the government to conduct examinations for immigration purposes. Your fiancée must be examined by a panel physician to obtain a K1 visa.
Police Certificate: All police records collected on you over a certain time period, including a history of arrest and reasons for arrest.
Receipt Number: A number assigned to your fiancé visa petition when you submit it to USCIS. You can check on the status of your application by contacting USCIS and giving them your receipt number.
Request for Further Evidence (RFE): A demand for additional information before USCIS and a US Embassy or Consulate approves your K-1 visa. You may receive multiple RFEs if you file for a fiancé visa without the services of an experienced K1 visa lawyer.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): The department that grants LPR status and citizenship to immigrants, and reviews petitions for K-1 visas. USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security.