Suppose you have fallen in love with someone in another country and want to bring them to the United States to start a life together. The K-1 visa allows your fiancé (e) to enter the United States and start a life with you. This visa is also known as a fiancé (e) visa. Before reaching the visa approval stage, the U.S. national must submit the petition for an alien fiancé (e) visa.
Unlike other non-immigrant visas, the validity date of the K-1 non-immigrant visa is close to the date of its approval. The permit allows the U.S citizen fiancé (e) to enter the United States within six months of its approval; however, after adjusting status to permanent resident, the foreign alien can legally remain in the United States for an indefinite period.
K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
The K-1 Fiancé(e) visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued by a Department of State Consular officer to a U.S. citizen’s fiancé (e). This visa allows the foreign alien to join the U.S. citizen in the U.S. and marry within 90 days of entry, after which the foreign spouse can begin the process of becoming a permanent/legal resident.
K-1 Visa Requirements
Not everyone is eligible to apply for a K-1 visa, and it is critical to review the eligibility requirements before beginning the process to avoid application rejection or time waste.
#US Citizen Sponsor
The Petitioner must be a U.S. citizen to apply for the fiancé(e)’s visa. U.S. nationals must provide proof of U.S. citizenship during the submission process.
A copy of your birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), an unexpired U.S. passport, or an original statement from a U.S. consular officer confirming citizenship with a valid passport could be acceptable.
The U.S. citizen and fiancé (e) must be legally married. This means neither of them is currently married, and if they were previously married, there should be proof that the marriage was dissolved.
A document proving that you are legally free to marry, such as a decree of dissolution, annulment from previous marriages, or death certificate, is considered necessary.
The Petitioner and the foreign alien must have met physically within the two years preceding the application’s filing. There are two exceptions to this rule. If the meeting violates the strict culture of the foreign fiancé (e) or causes extreme hardship to the U.S. national, the parties will be excused.
A document demonstrating that you have physically met, such as passport stamps or flight tickets, should be readily available if the exception does not apply to the parties.
#Intention Marry the foreign fiancé (e) within 90 days of entry
There must be an intention to get married once your fiancé (e) enters the united state within 90 of access.
A document demonstrating your intention to marry within 90 days of joining the U.S., such as a statement of intent, is required.
K-1 Visa Process
#Submit I-129F to the USCIS
The U.S. citizen petitioner initiates the visa application by completing and submitting the application for a Fiancé (e) visa to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Form I-129. Following the submission of Form I-129, an email or text message confirming receipt of the Petition will be sent.
The USCIS will review the application in the order in which it was received. After USCIS approval, the application that is Form I-129F will be sent to National Visa Center for fiancé (e) visa processing.
Note: Please remember that USCIS does not automatically send acknowledge receipt of mail or text messages. To receive notification, Petitioner must complete form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to request a text message and/or email when USCIS accepts your form.
The National Visa Center sends the approved Form I-129F to the United States Embassy or Consulate, where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
NVC then assigns a case number to the petition approval notice and works with the foreign national to prepare for the interview.
NVC will administratively review all required documents for the visa application upon receipt. The review will take place only after the fee, Form DS-160, the online nonimmigrant visa application, and financial paper have been received.
When the visa application is sent to the U.S. embassy, National Visa Center ensures that the minimum paperwork required by the consular officer is received and correctly filled out.
The U.S. embassy will schedule an interview for the U.S. citizen fiancé (e). During the K-1 visa interview, the consular officer determines if the fiancé(e) qualifies for the visa.
Most times, the consular officer looks out for the genuineness of the relationship, authenticity of the documents, and completeness of the supporting documents. E.g., Birth certificates, police certificates, Medical exam reports, etc. The consular officers must not suspect that the procedure is only for immigration benefits.
If the consular officer approves the K-1 nonimmigrant visa, the validity of the visa is for six months for a single entry from its approval date.
This means that the Alien Fiancé(e) can visit the United States within six months of receiving the visa. However, once they enter the United States, they can only stay for 90 days. If they have not married within that time, they should leave the U.S.
Suppose the foreign fiancé (e) enters the U.S. immediately after the visa is granted, and after 90 days, the U.S. national and the fiancé (e) are still not married. In that case, the alien fiancé(e) must return to the home country, regardless of the six-month validity period.
As previously stated, a K-1 visa is unique; a K-1 visa grant does not also guarantee the automatic entry of the U.S citizen fiancé(e) into the U.S. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will decide whether to admit the alien fiancé (e)at the port of entry.
#Celebration of Marriage within 90 days of entry into the U.S.
Within 90 days of entering the United States, the U.S. national and the alien fiancé(e) must marry.
#Application for a green card
After marriage, the spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. The application for permanent resident starts by filing form i-1485, the application to register permanent resident or adjustment of status.
K-1 Visa Cost
The fees to be paid to the government are the ones with a set amount, while the incidental costs vary.
The filing fees must be paid to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. It is important to note that paying the correct filing fee is essential to avoid rejection. There is a fee calculator option on the USCIS website.
This tool will ask questions to help determine the fee to avoid paying incorrect filing fees. The calculator always has the most recent fee information and can calculate the exact filing fees for any form processed at a USCIS facility.
Aside from the filing fee, there are other costs, such as medical examination fees. Nonetheless, these fees are paid at various stages of the visa application process and are not one-time payments.
#Government filing fees
- I-129F Form, Petition for K-1 Visa – $535
- Embassy Fee -$ 265
- The cost of a medication examination ranges between $100 and $500.
- After-arrival status adjustment- $1,140, and
- Biometrics- $85
- Translation services fee for non-English document
- Document fees
- Profession photography fees
- Travel expenses
- Shipping costs
K-1 Visa Processing time
Please keep in mind that there is no set processing time for the K-1 visa.
The approval of the petition for a K-1 visa by the USCIS takes about 9 to 12 months, the forwarding of the approved petition by the National Visa Center to the U.S. embassy takes about six weeks, and the K-1 visa interview until the grant of the visa by a consular officer takes about three months.
K-1 Beneficiary’s Family Members
Unmarried children (under 21) of K-1 beneficiaries are eligible for K-2 nonimmigrant status if the applicant (U.S. citizen) includes them in the petition. They will accompany the foreign alien in entering the United States without needing a separate petition.
K-I Visa Frequently Asked Questions
#Do K-1 visas expire?
K-1 Visa has a set expiration date of 6 months. The visa’s validity period is six months after it is granted.
#Can a K-1 visa be extended?
The K-1 visa cannot be extended after it has expired. After the marriage is completed within 90 days of entry into the U.S., the next step is to apply to adjust status from K-1 status to register permanent residence.
The U.S. citizen spouse should go one step further and apply to become a permanent resident in the U.S. to extend their stay.
#Upon approval of the K-1 visa, is my fiancé(e)required to leave the home country immediately?
The alien fiancé(e) is not required to leave the home country immediately after receiving the K-1 visa but must enter the U.S. within six months of the validity period.
The alien fiancé(e) should begin travel preparations once the visa is in process, especially since there is no specific processing time.
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