What is a K-1 Visa and what is the process?
A fiance visa, also known as a K-1 visa, is available to non-citizens who are engaged to or intend to marry a citizen of the United States. A K-1 visa grants the alien a one-time entry into the U.S.; the person cannot be granted re-entry after their initial stay.
Within the last two years prior to application, the two people involved in the engagement must have met in person. Also, the marriage must be legally possible under the state laws where the marriage is to take place. After the K-1 visa has been granted, the foreign citizen has 6 months to enter the U.S. After entry, they then have 90 days to marry the U.S. citizen.
Filling the application for a K-1 Visa
In order to get a K-1 fiancé visa, the U.S. citizen must file Form I-129F, “Petition for Alien Fiance”, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After the form has been processed, the USCIS will send it to the embassy or consulate of the home country of the fiancé. If the petition is approved by the consulate, the alien then has four months in order to apply for a K-1 visa.
K-1 Fiance Visa Requirements
The non-citizen fiancé is required to submit the following information to the embassy:
- A valid birth certificate
- A passport which is valid for up to six months after entry in the U.S.
- A police certificate verifying all places of residence since age 16
- A medical examination
Evidence verifying capability of financial support
Evidence of an existing and valid engagement relationship- this may be proved by photographs of the two people together, receipts or ticket stubs showing that the U.S. citizen visited the fiancé, etc.
Visa Application forms for Nonimmigrant Visa and Non-Immigrant Fiance Visa (Form DS-156 and Form DS-156K)
Applying for Permanent Resident Status after Marriage
A K-1 visa does not provide the non-citizen with permanent residence in the U.S. It only provides a one-time entry into the U.S. for purposes of marrying the citizen. The non-citizen fiancé may apply for permanent residency after marriage by applying for a marriage visa.
After marriage, the alien should file USCIS Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence”. Also, their citizen spouse needs to file USCIS Form I-864, “Affidavit of Support”. Once these petitions are approved, the USCIS will grant the alien a conditional green card.
The alien can finally receive permanent resident status after 2 years from the time of approval of the two forms. They can do this by filing to remove their conditional green card status using Form I-751. The non-citizen applicant must have either been married for at least 2 years or, they must be divorced from a marriage made in good faith. The couple must demonstrate that their marriage was not made for the purposes of sidestepping immigration requirements.
You may wish to hire a lawyer to help you with your fiancé visa application process. This is especially true if you cannot understand the law due to language differences. A lawyer can help you process your documents, and will keep you informed in the event of a change in the law. Here are some points to consider in filing for a K-1 visa:
Be aware that a K-1 visa only allows the non-citizen to enter the U.S. once, after which they must return to their home country.
The engagement must be a valid one and not a pre-arranged marriage for monetary purposes, for acquiring citizenship or to evade immigration procedures.
You may be required to provide additional information that proves that your engagement is valid and that the two persons have met in person.
K-1 visas do not provide permanent residency; this must be applied for after the marriage.