The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé visa, is a nonimmigrant classification of a marriage-based visa. With this visa, a U.S. citizen can sponsor their fiancé so that the fiancé can come into the U.S. with the intent of getting married here. Many people have important questions surrounding the K-1 visa, so we’ll try to answer some of the most common questions in this discussion. Please keep in mind that we’ll use the term “you” to refer to the person in the couple who is currently a U.S. citizen.
Frequently Asked Questions About the K-1 Visa
How quickly do we have to get married before the K-1 visa runs out?
You have 90 days from the time your foreign fiancé enters the country to get married. This has to be a bona fide marriage in that you are intending on building a life together. In other words, it is illegal to get married solely for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
What are the eligibility requirements?
There are a few requirements that you must meet before you are eligible to file your petition.
You must be a United States citizen;
You intend to marry your K-1 fiancé within 90 days of entering the U.S. with the K-1 visa;
Both individuals must be legally free to marry (i.e., any previous marriages are legally terminated and you are both able to legally marry in the U.S.);
You and your fiancé cannot already be married;
You intend to get married in the United States and not another country;
Your fiance cannot already be a U.S. citizen;
You have met with your fiancé, in person, within the two years before you file your petition.
There is a waiver available for the two-year meeting requirement if the meeting would have violated long-established customs or been an extreme hardship for the U.S. petitioner.
What are the steps for receiving a K-1 visa?
There are two steps to receive a K-1 visa. First, you must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, with your local USCIS office. This form cannot be filed at a U.S. embassy, consulate, or USCIS office abroad. Once USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign a case number and forward your petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where your fiancé resides.
The second step is to actually apply for the K-1 visa, which requires an interview. You will receive a letter from the NVC when it forwards your petition to your fiancé’s foreign U.S. consulate or embassy. This letter will give you instructions on the next step for the K-1 interview and tell you what documentation to bring to the discussion. You can find a more detailed explanation of these steps and additional steps toward citizenship on the USCIS Summary of Process page.
What documentation do I need to include when I file the Form I-129F petition?
When you file Form I-129F, you will need to attach the following documentation:
A copy of your passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate to prove that you are a U.S. citizen;
A copy of your foreign fiancé’s passport;
Proof that you are in a legitimate relationship (sworn statements from friends, correspondence, photos, etc.);
Proof that you have met in person within the last two years (photos, hotel itineraries or receipts, flight itineraries, etc.);
Sworn statements that are written and signed by each partner. Each statement should include a brief description of the nature of the relationship and a statement showing the partner intends on marrying within 90 days of arriving in the U.S;
A copy of any Form I-94 arrival-departure record previously issued to the sponsored fiancé; and
One passport-style photo of the sponsored fiancé and one passport-style photo of the U.S. sponsor.
What documentation do I need to bring to the K-1 visa interview?
The K-1 fiancé will need to bring the following items to the K-1 visa interview:
Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application DS-160;
A valid passport that extends at least six months past the fiancé’s intended stay in the U.S.;
The K-1 fiancé’s birth certificate;
If either the sponsoring U.S. citizen or foreign fiancé has been in a prior marriage, they must bring a divorce or death certificate to validate the legal termination of that marriage;
A police certificate from the foreign fiancé’s current resident country as well as any other nation in which the fiance resided for more than six months after turning sixteen years of age;
Evidence of an approved medical examination;
Proof of sustainable financial report. Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support) may be requested to prove that the foreign fiancé will not be relying on welfare or other U.S. financial support;
Two passport-style photos;
Proof that a valid relationship exists between the foreign fiancé and the U.S. citizen sponsor; and
Payment for all accompanying visa fees.
It is advisable to enlist the help of an experienced immigration attorney to make sure all of your documentation is in order before the interview. This can help avoid unnecessary delays in processing your request.
How long does it take to get a K-1?
On average, it takes about five to eight months for USCIS to process Form I-129F. After that, it will take another three to four weeks for you to receive instructions from the National Visa Center (NVC) on continuing the process.
How much does a K-1 visa cost?
The fee for filing Form I-129F is $535. This fee can be paid with a personal check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, cashier’s check, or money order. Once you are approved, your fiancé is required to have a medical exam. Those usually run around $200. Finally, you will pay the actual K-1 application fee of $265. This is usually paid at the interview.
Are there any requirements for the U.S. sponsor?
Yes. There are financial requirements that the U.S. sponsor must meet. Specifically, the U.S. sponsor’s adjusted gross income from the most recent year’s tax return must be at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If the sponsor cannot meet that requirement, a joint financial sponsor must file an affidavit of support.
Is the K-1 visa available for same-sex couples?
Yes. Same-sex couples may apply for a K-1 visa using the same steps as a heterosexual couple. This is regardless of whether or not the foreign fiancé’s home country recognizes same-sex marriages.
Put Our Experience to Work for You
You don’t want to have delays in the processing of your K-1 visa documents, and you definitely don’t want to run into issues during your K-1 interview. Let the experienced attorneys at the Jarbath Peña Law Group help you through every step of the process. Call us at 305-615-1005 or contact us through our online contact form today!