A Complete Guide for getting a K-1 Fiancé Visa
We all want our loved ones to live with us, and the Government of the U.S. has played a vital role in uniting millions of couples to live & work together in the USA through K-1 Fiancé Visa.
What is a K-1 Visa?
A K-1 Fiancé Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. to marry within 90 days. Once the couple is married, the fiancé can apply for a marriage green card in the U.S. and live & work in the U.S. legally.
Eligibility for K-1 Fiancé Visa
The following are the eligibility criteria that must be met to obtain a K-1 Fiancé Visa:
- The sponsoring individual must be a citizen of the U.S. A U.S. lawful permanent resident, i.e., a green card holder is not permitted to sponsor their fiancé for a K-1 Fiancé Visa.
- Once the Fiancé arrives in the U.S., the couple must get married within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.
- Both partners must be unmarried, and any of your past marriages must be legally terminated by divorce or annulment.
- Same-sex couples (partners) can apply for K-1 Fiancé Visa.
- The couple must prove that their relationship is valid & legitimate and must have met at least once within two years before filing the K-1 Fiancé visa application. There are a few exceptions in cases of:
- Extreme hardships
- Meeting in person would violate their religious, cultural, or social norms
- The couple must submit a signed document each stating that they intend to get married within 90 days after the fiancé arrives in the U.S.
- The sponsoring U.S. citizen must meet the income requirements, which should be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines on their recent tax return.
- In case the sponsoring U.S. citizen cannot meet the income requirements, they may use a joint sponsor. If the income is below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, they must submit Form I-864 or Form I-864A with their K-1 Visa Application.
How to apply for a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
After meeting the eligibility criteria, the process can be summarized by following the below 4 steps for applying for K-1 Fiancé Visa.
Step 1: File Form I-129F
In the first step, the sponsoring U.S. citizen has to prepare & file Form I-129F for the K-1 Visa petition, which is commonly called "Petition for Foreign Fiancé" with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of Form I-129F is to prove that you meet the requirements and that your relationship is valid & legitimate.
What Documents are required for Form I-129F?
In general, the sponsoring U.S. Citizen must submit the following documents to USCIS for Form I-129F:
- The sponsoring U.S. citizen has to submit a copy of their U.S. Passport, certificate of naturalization, birth certificate, & income proof for Federal Poverty Guidelines.
- Proof of evidence for proving your relationship bona fide (legitimate) by submitting:
- Pictures of the couple together
- Written statements from family (parents), siblings, or colleagues that you both are engaged
- Flight Records/Hotel Reservations of your meeting in person within the last two years from filing the K-1 Visa application
- Signed Documents of both partners that you intend to marry each other within 90 days from the Fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.
- A copy of Form I-94 as document proof for arrival-departure record in the U.S.
- One passport-size photo of both partners
- Filing fee for Form I-129F is $535, which must be paid by check, money order, or credit card. USCIS does not accept cash.
Note: Once you have mailed all the required documents for Form I-129F to USCIS, you will receive a receipt notice within 30 days indicating that USCIS will begin processing your case. On average it takes 6-14 months for the Form I-129F petition to process. While your case is getting processed by USCIS, keep a close eye on any Requests for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, which they send if they need any additional information or documents.
Step 2: File Form DS-160
Once USCIS has approved your Form I-129F petition, USCIS will transfer your case to the U.S. Department of State National Visa Center (NVC). NVC sends a notice through the U.S. Embassy of your home country to provide the date & location of your Visa Interview. The notice also includes the required additional documents & instructions on how to provide the additional required documents to your local U.S. Embassy.
Note: Ensure that the contact information you provided on Form I-129F is correct to receive notice from the NVC.
After receiving the notice from the NVC, you must complete the State Department's online DS-160 form, commonly known as the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application”, the actual K-1 Fiancé Visa Application. Once you have filed the online DS-160 form, print the confirmation page that you are required to take to your Visa Interview.
Documents required for the Visa Interview
Documents from the sponsoring U.S. citizen
- A sworn statement of Form I-134 in which the sponsoring U.S. citizen promises to keep their Fiancé from heavily relying on the U.S. Government benefits in the future.
- Recent tax returns. It is recommended to submit the last 3 years tax returns.
- A copy of approved Form I-129F from USCIS to prove your relationship is legitimate.
Documents from the Foreign Fiancé
- Your Two passport size photos & Birth Certificate
- A copy of your valid & legally acceptable passport
- Police clearance from all the countries where you have lived for more than six months since the age of 16 years
- A sealed medical exam form that you will receive at the immigration medical exam from an approved doctor
Step 3: Visa Interview & Payment of Fees
The Visa Interview is conducted 4-12 weeks after receiving the notice from NVC, however, these times can vary from country to country. Only the foreign fiancé must attend the visa interview, usually at the local U.S. Embassy or consulate office.
The Foreign Fiancé must pay the Embassy Fee of $265 at or before the time of the Visa Interview for the K-1 Fiancé Visa. Ensure to follow all the instructions provided by the U.S. Embassy in the notice you received.
The Consular officer will conduct your Visa Interview & usually decide on the same day of the interview unless there are any additional documents or evidence that you will be required to submit to the local U.S. Consulate or Embassy after the interview.
Step 4: Arrival & Marriage
After your K-1 Visa application is approved, the foreign fiancé will receive a sealed visa folder. Do not open this sealed folder, as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who will inspect you at the U.S. border will ask you for it. If the folder is opened, you may not be allowed to enter the U.S.
The Foreign Fiancé must enter the U.S. usually within four months after the K-1 Fiancé Visa is approved. The couple must get married within 90 days after the foreign fiancé arrives in the U.S. If you don't marry within 90 days, the fiancé will lose K-1 Fiancé Visa Status and will be asked to return to their home country. If the couple doesn’t intend to marry for personal reasons, the foreign fiancé must return to their home country within 90 days of their arrival in the U.S.
After marriage, the foreign spouse can change their status from K-1 Fiancé Visa to Marriage Green Card status by filing Form I-485.
Note: The foreign fiancé can't use the K-1 Fiancé Visa to marry anyone other than the sponsoring U.S. Citizen with whom they have filed the Form I-129F.
We recommend to consult an immigration law firm that will make the process for obtaining a K-1 Fiancé Visa easier for you.
Salinas Law Firm is one of the top 10 Immigration Law Firms in Houston, Texas. We have helped hundreds of couples to obtain K-1 Fiancé Visa. Contact us today for a consultation for K-1 Fiancé Visa or any other legal issues from one of the best Immigration Lawyers in Houston, Texas. You can reach us via phone at 713.518.1711.