Have you considered moving to the United States to meet your fiance(e) but are unsure how to proceed? Your thoughts are valid, as it is everyone’s dream to live in the same area as their partner.
The K-1 nonimmigrant visa allows a foreign citizen fiance(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the country and marry their national sponsor within 90 days of arrival.
The U.S. sponsor initiates the visa processing by submitting a Petition in Form 1-I29F to the U.S. citizenship and immigration services (USCIS). The validity of Form 1-I29F, on the other hand, has a time limit.
Stay with us as we go through the step-by-step K-I visa processing.
What is K1 Visa?
The K-1 visa allows the alien fiancé(e) to visit the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. This 90-day rule applies when applying for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
Marriage between the U.S. national sponsor and fiancé(e) must be valid, which means both parties must have a genuine desire to live together, and no fraudulent intention or otherwise should be discovered.
It should be noted that the marriage should not be solely to obtain an immigration benefit. If it is for an immigration benefit, the U.S. citizenship and immigration services USCIS has procedures to report suspected benefit/marriage fraud or other violations.
However, the spouse or fiancé(e) will be ineligible for a fiancé(e) visa if :
1. The U.S. national is already married or
2. Plans to marry outside the U.S., or
3. The fiancé(e) is already legally residing in the U.S.
The U.S. national should consider bringing the spouse to live in the U.S. as Permanent Resident.
Who is eligible for a Fiancé(e) Visa?
The following are the requirements for a U.S. national to bring their fiancé(e) to the U.S. on a fiancé(e) visa:
#1 U.S. citizen
The sponsor/petitioner of the K-1 Visa must be a U.S. national.
#2 Intention to marry within 90 after entry to the U.S.
The intending couple must have the plan to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s admission to the U.S. on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
#3 Legally free to marry
The future wife or husband and the U.S. national must be legally free to marry in the U.S., and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
#4 Physical meeting with fiancé(e)
The U.S. national and the fiancé(e) must have met in person at least once in the two years before filing the Petition for K -1 Visa.
The physical meeting would not be compulsory if a waiver is requested, which requires proof that meeting in person would violate strict and long-established customs of the fiancé(e)’s or social practice or probably the same will cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen petitioner.
Note: K-1 visas are available for same-sex partners.
How do I Apply for a K-1 fiancé(e) Visa?
The process of bringing a fiancé (e) to the U.S. is a five-step process that begins with the sponsor filing Form 1-129F, which is the Fiance Visa Petition at the USCIS.
Then Visa Application at the Department of State, Inspection at a Port of Entry by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Marriage, and finally Adjustment of Status at the USCIS.
Step 1: Filing the Petition (Form 1-129F)
Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), must be filed with the U.S. citizenship and immigration services office within the locality of the U.S. national that is the sponsor.
The form will be reviewed, and the Petition will be approved after the USCIS confirms the eligibility. The approved Form I-129F will be forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The U.S. citizen petitioner will also get the approval notice.
The petition filing fee is $535 as of today.
The validity period for the Form I-129F petition is four months.
Step 2: Application for Visa
After forwarding the Petition to the National Visa Center, the approved Form I-129F is then forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where the fiancé(e) lives, and an application for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa is made. In contrast, the eligible children of the K-1 visa applicant can apply for the K-2 visa. The visa application is made via the online nonimmigrant visa application by completing Form DS-106.
The U.S. embassy will schedule an interview after applying, which a consular officer will conduct. The confirmation page of Form DS-106 should be taken along to the visa interview.
The K-1 nonimmigrant visa is granted by the Department of State (DOS) consular. If the applicant qualifies, the visa is only valid for six months for a single entry.
If the visa application is denied because the relationship is not genuine, the DOS will not issue a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and will return Form I-129F to USCIS.
The U.S. citizen petitioner can refile the Petition.
Step 3: Inspection at a Port of Entry
This stage is conditional on the approval of the visa. Because the K-1 visa does not guarantee entry into the United States like any other visa, entry into the U.S. is possible after inspection by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry will make the final decision on whether to admit the foreign fiancé (e) or otherwise.
Please keep in mind that you will receive a sealed visa packet which will be checked at the port of entry. If your K-1 visa application is approved, your fiance(e) must enter the United States within four months of the approval date.
Step 4: Marriage
You (the U.S. national ) must marry your foreign fiancé (e) within 90 days of entering the U.S. If you do not comply, your fiancé(e) will lose the K-1 Status, and the children will also forfeit their K-2 nonimmigrant visa.
As a result, the fiancé(e) and the children, if any of the U.S. citizens return to their home country, failure to leave may result in removal (deportation). It may jeopardize future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits.
Step 5: Application for Green Card/Adjustment of Status
Your fiancé(e), now your spouse, can apply for a Green Card by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to the USCIS after conducting the marriage within 90 days.
Following the application submission to register as Permanent Resident or Adjust Status, the application will be reviewed by the USCIS, and an interview with the couple (the U.S. national and foreign national spouse) will be scheduled.
How Long will the I-129F Petition be Valid?
After approval by the USCIS, Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (e), is valid for four months from the date USCIS approves. This validity period differs from the validity period of the K-1 visa, which is valid for up to 6 months after the DOS has granted it.
The Fiancé(e) visa application at the U.S. Embassy or consulate must be completed and approved within four months. That is, the validity date starts counting from the date of approval.
If the visa process is not completed within four months from the date USCIS approves, a request for an extension can be made. A consular officer may extend its validity.
How to Request an I-129F Extension?
The extension can be obtained by requesting that the U.S. Embassy “revalidate” the form I-129F.
With proof that the visa process is ongoing, the U.S. Embassy may decide to extend the form’s validity for another four months.
The request can be made via email or by scheduling an interview.
You can quickly continue the visa application process after confirmation that the validity period has been extended.
K-1 Fiancé Visa FAQs
#1 Can I bring my children with me to the United States on a K-1 visa?
Yes. You( foreign national spouse) are permitted to bring your children to the United States as long as they are under 21 and unmarried. If your Fiancé(e) includes these children on Form I-129F and are eligible, they will be issued K-2 visas when you receive a K-1 visa.
#2 Can I adjust my Status on my K-2 Visa?
Nonimmigrants with K-2 Status may also apply for a Green Card by submitting Form I-485 to USCIS. However, to be eligible for a Green Card, K-2 nonimmigrant children must remain unmarried. Nonimmigrant children in the K-2 category should simultaneously apply for a Green Card as or after their fiancé (e).
Find Out How We Can Help You?
Allow us to alleviate your stress and anxiety about the K Visa process.
Please get in touch with the Herman Legal Group. We are a multi-award-winning immigration law firm founded in 1995 with extensive experience in all areas of immigration, including family, employment, investor, deportation defense, and citizenship.
To schedule a personal consultation with Attorney Richard Herman, a nationally recognized immigration lawyer with 28 years of experience, call 1-216-696-6170, or book online. Consultations can be held over the phone, via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, Google meet, or in-person.