How to get K-1 Visa as a Fiancé(e) of the U.S. Citizen

K-1 visa for Foreign Fiancé(e):

We understand how important it is to be with your foreign partner before starting your new life and getting married. Here, we will guide you on obtaining a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and grab a chance to make plans for your dream wedding together in the United States.

If you are a U.S. citizen and you marry your fiancé(e) and then apply for a U.S. immigration visa, it’s going to take some time to process the visa. Don’t get disappointed when you hear that the average processing time for an IR-1 or CR-1 visa is about a year. There is no guarantee that even a year will be enough time— some couples report waiting up to two years, although this is unusual.

Fortunately, there is a better alternative. As a U.S. citizen, instead of marrying your fiancé(e) and filing Form I-130 to obtain an immigration visa, you don’t have to marry right away. Instead, you can apply for a nonimmigrant visa K-1.

The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S citizens to bring their partner to the United States and get married within 90 days. Afterward, you can help your new spouse apply for a green card while in the United States or adjust status to a lawful permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Taking this option instead of the marriage green card will probably save you several months waiting outside the United States because it will allow your foreign fiancé(e) to enter the US sooner.

The K-1 fiancé visa process comprises several steps, from filing Form I-129F (Petition for Alien fiancé(e)), receiving a Notice of Action, passing the screening process, preparing the proper documentation, all the way to attending the interview, and finally receiving the K-1 visa stamp on the passport.

Don’t be afraid- you don’t have to go through all this paperwork alone. At Herman Legal Group law firm, we run our firm on certain core principles such as ethics, integrity, and individualized representation. To us, you are not just a case number or a way for us to make money. You are a human being who has placed their trust in us, putting your future in our hands. We never forget that we work for you, not the other way around. We are at the service to our foreign clients 24/7 and can help you prepare your nonimmigrant visa applications. Our contact information is (+1) (800) 808-4013 or (+1)(614) 300-1131, or you can complete our online contact form for a free initial consultation.

K-1 Eligibility criteria

  • It is available only for U.S. citizens as sponsoring partners, but not to permanent resident;
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor and his or her fiancé(e) must be eligible to marry.
  • It is available to same-sex partners, as long as one of them is a U.S. citizen.
  • Prove the relationship’s legitimacy by providing firm evidence such as photographs, hotel reservations of trips taken together, flight itineraries, etc.)
  • Proofs partners have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the visa form (exceptions include cases of extreme hardship or if in-person meetings would violate cultural, religious, or social norms).
  • U.S. citizen sponsor and his or her foreign fiancé(e) must provide a signed statement indicating an intent to marry within 90 days.
  • The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must meet specific income requirements

Step 1: Filing Form I-129F

The U.S. citizen fiancé needs to file U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS Form I-129F (Petition for an alien fiancé(e)). Form I-129F has to be submitted with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.

Note that it would be a good idea to include evidence proving the legitimacy of your relationship, such as photographs of you two together, especially with your families with Form I-129F. However, be patient and make this first package well prepared to show the immigration officers that your relationship is not for immigration purposes.

The list of documents that to include in your application package

The application package for your K-1 nonimmigrant visa, along with the form I-129f petition to USCIS, has to include the following forms and documents:

  • Proof of the U.S. citizen fiancé’ citizenship (copy of a passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate)
  • Copy of the sponsored fiancé’s passport
  • Proof of the legitimacy of your relationship (photos, correspondence, statements from friends, families, and colleagues, etc. anything that will contribute to demonstrate your marriage is bona fide)
  • Proof of that you two have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the form (flight and hotel itineraries, photos, correspondence, etc.)
  • Your sworn statements- written and signed, comprising a brief description of the nature of the relationship.
  • A copy of Form I-94 arrival-departure record.
  • A passport-style photo of the U.S. citizen fiancé and a passport-style photograph of the sponsored fiancé.

What is the filing fee for Form-129F?

The U.S. government agency fee for the I-129F petition is $535. You have to submit this form and supporting documents at the appropriate address. Afterward, USCIS will typically send a receipt notice within 30 days.

If USCIS needs more information, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) on your submitted form I-129F. Once Form I-129F is approved, USCIS will send an approval notice.

Step 2: Approval Notices- Notice of Action

Once Form I-129F is approved, USCIS will send an approval notice, a Notice of Action NOA(). Usually, this notice will arrive within two to three weeks.

When you receive it, you don’t have to do anything about it- just wait for the second Notice of Action.

The second Notice of Action will state a “yes” or “no” on your K-1 visa. You will wait for it usually for 3 to 4 months.

Step 3: Background Check

If the USCIS approves your K-1 petition, it will forward it to the National Visa Center (NVC), the U.S. Department of State. The NVC is retaining all pending cases until their adjudication by a consular office abroad. In this case, “processing” means checking your fiancé’s (e)’s background. The NVC will do a security check on your fiance, which takes another four weeks or so.

Step 4: Security Check

When your fiancé(e) passes the screening process, the USCIS will forward the K-1 petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest his or her residence in the home country. This also means that your fiancé(e) will receive a BNK number, which will be necessary to schedule a K-1 visa interview and facilitate correspondence with U.S. immigration authorities USCIS. The service center that handled your visa K-1 (either Vermont or California) will forward your case to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC), which will run a security check on your fiancé(e) that will happen within two weeks of your approval.

You will not receive any notice, but if you want to confirm that the NVC has received your file, call them at 603-334-0700 or email them at nvcinquiry@state.gov. After the security check, the approved K-1 visa application goes to the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and then they forward it to the U.S. Embassy in your fiance’s country via DHL.

Step 5: Interview phase

After the U.S. The Embassy receives your visa petition, they will send the fiancé(e) a letter with instructions for scheduling the medical examination and interview, along with the instructions to return some documentation and to keep others until the interview.

To schedule the visa interview, you will have to fill out and submit the form DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application with State Department. You can find the DS-160 form on the USCIS website. It serves both K-1 and K-2 applicants and those who temporarily travel to the United States.

Taking Medical Exam

Before the interview, the fiancé(e) must pass the medical examination, as well. You will receive an explanation from the U.S. Embassy and information regarding the fee to pay.

Attending the Interview

Regarding the interview, your foreign citizen fiancé(e) will receive by the U.S. embassy or consulate a list of documents that he or she will need to bring to the K-1 visa interview. Once these documents are assembled, your fiance has to apply for an interview date.

Note that you have to provide proof of the support that you, the US petitioner, will financially support the foreign fiance at the interview. For this purpose, you will need to file the Affidavit of Support Form I-134 before going to the U.S. embassy or consulate.

Of course, your fiancé(e) must attend the interview at the U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate. Still, your presence will not be required before a consular officer if you are overseas (you might be in the United States, for example). If the interview is successful, your fiancé(e) must turn in his or her passport to the embassy or consulate officer, and the fiancé(e) visa should be stamped onto it in about five days. Usually, a consular officer will require additional documentation for K-1 visas, which often delays the process. Based on all provided documentation, the consular officer determines whether your fiancé(e) qualifies for a K-1 visa.

Step 6: Receiving the stamp

The final step is to receive the K-1 visa stamp on your passport and enter the United States within six months. The one significant thing to note is that you must marry within 90 days of entering the United States. Otherwise, your fiancé(e) must leave the country, and he or she will lose the opportunity to get married in the United States and become a permanent resident.

I got a K-1 visa; what’s next?

When you receive final approval for a visa K-1, there is no time limit to enter the United States, but when you do, the “clock starts ticking,” and you have to get married within 90 days starting from the day of the entrance. Although there’s no time frame to apply for Adjustment of Status, you shouldn’t wait too long to file the I-485 to adjust your status. Learn how to adjust status here.

The longer you wait for processing the I-485 form, the longer you will wait for an Employment Authorization Document or Advance Parole, as well as other benefits (going to school, working, traveling, etc.).

Besides, you also need to file the I-134, which every non-immigrant sponsor uses for a K-1 visa. Still, when you get ready to apply for a green card, you’ll need to submit the I-864 (Affidavit of support) with the I-485 adjustment of status application.

K-1 applicants either submit the I-134 or the I-864, but most will go with the more straightforward form that the I-134 offers.

Note: The process of obtaining the green card might take a year.

When you decide to travel to the United States, bear in mind that U.S. Customs and Border Protection screens everyone who enters and can grant or refuse entry even if you have a valid visa if they discover ineligibility (or violation).

How long does it take for a K-1 visa to be approved?

Now, you may think that there is a lot of waiting periods while your K-1 fiancé visa application flows from one office to another. Although the K-1 visa is one of the most requested visas the U.S. Department of State issues to the foreigners, as we mentioned in the beginning, it is also a quicker path than some other immigration visas. The processing time for the K-1 petition is usually between 9 to 11 months.

Can you work on a K-1 visa?

If you’re wondering if a non-U.S. citizen who has an approved K-1 visa petition can work in the United States, you need to have in mind the following: yes, they have the right to work in the U.S. within 90 days period, but it is usually hard to practice this right.

A non-U.S. citizen can work in the United States only if he or she applies for and receives a work permit. This is a small card called Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The obstacle with applying for a work permit as a K-1 holder is that the USCIS Service Centers take at least three months to issue them, and sometimes it takes even longer.

As a part of the green card application packet to adjust the status and become a green card holder, you can include Form I-765. Form I-765 is a request for a work permit. According to terms applicable in early 2021, you won’t have to pay extra fees. Contrary, while in K-1 status, you would have to pay a separate USCIS fee.

After you submit your green card application, your work permit will probably arrive within 60 to 90 days.

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