K-1 Visa Fiancé(e)
The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (Green Card holder) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a K-1 fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.
What Is a “Fiancé(e)”?
Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen is the beneficiary of an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, who has been issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States in order to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Both the U.S. citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place..
In general, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years. USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement, based on extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), or, for example, if it is contrary in the U.S. citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé(e)’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage.
Important Notice for Same-Sex Fiancée’s of U.S. Citizens
Same-sex fiancée’s of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are now eligible for the same immigration benefits as an opposite-sex fiancé(e). Consular officers at U.S. Embassies and Consulates will adjudicate K-1 visa upon receipt of an approved K-1 petition from USCIS. After the foreign national fiancé enters the U.S. with a K-1 visa, she must marry her US citizen fiancé within 90 days in a state which has marriage equality. For further information, please see our FAQ’s.
The First Step: Filing the Petition
You, the U.S. citizen sponsor, must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), and certain evidence of your relationship, with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live. Form I-129F cannot be filed at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or USCIS office abroad. After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will give you a case number and send your petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé(e) lives.
The Second Step: Applying for a Visa
The NVC will mail you a letter when it sends your fiancé(e) case to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once you receive this letter, inform your fiance(e) to follow the instructions in the letter to apply for a K-1 visa and prepare for the interview.
Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants may apply for K-2 visas. Separate applications must be submitted for each K visa applicant, and each K visa applicant must pay the visa application fee.
Ineligibilities for Visas
Certain conditions and activities may make you, the applicant, ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents.
If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the Consular Officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver process is.
How Long Will It Take to Get My K-1 Visa?
Once your case has been received from NVC by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that will process it, the length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully or supply incomplete information. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.
After You Receive a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
If you are issued a K-1 visa, the Consular Officer will return your passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents you provided, plus other documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the DHS immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. As the K-1 visa holder, you must enter the United States either before or at the same time as any qualifying children holding K-2 visas.
With your K-1 visa, you can apply for a single admission at a U.S. port-of-entry within the validity period of the visa, which will be a maximum of 6 months from the date of issuance. You must marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of your entry into the United States.
Entering the United States – Port of Entry
A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S. port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. You should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Upon arrival at the port-of-entry, be prepared to present to the CBP officer your passport with visa and your unopened/sealed packet containing your documents.
Adjustment of Status
After entering the United States on your K-1 visa, you must marry your U.S. citizen fiancé within 90 days of your entry. After your marriage, you may then file an Adjustment of Status Application (Green Card application) and supporting evidence with USCIS.
The immigration attorneys of Allen & Pinnix, P.A. are well experienced in the K-1 Fiancé visa process, from the initial filing with USCIS through Consular processing and the Green Card application. Schedule a confidential consultation here or call 919.755.0505.