K-1 Visa for Fiance(e) of U.S. Citizen
K-1 Visa Information
Overview: The K-1 visa allows foreign national fiance(e)s of U.S. citizens to enter the United States for the sole purpose of marrying. Once married, the foreign national may become a permanent resident and eventual seek citizenship.
Qualifications: The U.S. citizen and the foreign national fiance(e) must meet established criteria to use the K-1 visa, including the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen, both individuals must be willing and able to marry within 90 days of the fiance(e)’s arrival in the United States, and the couple must have a good faith intention to marry each other. Additionally, the couple must have physically met within the last two years. (this “meeting requirement” may be waived in certain circumstances, please see below).
Process: The K-1 visa process has many steps and takes many months to complete. At the first step, a U.S. citizen must file an I-129F petition for a fiance(e) visa with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The USCIS is currently taking about five months to complete this step. Once the I-129F petition is approved, the fiance(e) will be required to obtain a K-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate in the fiance(e)’s country of residence.
This step will require an interview at the U.S. Consulate, a medical examination of the fiance(e), and the presentation of supporting documentation. This step can also take many months to complete. After the K-1 visa is obtained, the fiance(e) may enter into the United States to marry. The couple must be married within 90 days of the fiance(e) entering the country. Once married, the newly wed foreign national must apply for adjustment of status to permanent residency. At that time, the newly wed may also apply for work authorization and advanced parole to travel abroad.
Meeting Requirement Waiver: The meeting requirement may be waived by the USCIS if the K-1 couple can demonstrate that it would cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen petition, or if it would violate the K-1 beneficiary’s culturally strict and long-established customs.
In practice, establishing this requirement is extremely difficult and should only be attempted with the close supervision of a k-1 visa attorney. Gafner Law Firm is willing to assist any k-1 couples who believe they qualify for this waiver.
K-1 Visa Costs:
Government Filing Fee: $340 (for initial K-1 visa application)
K-1 Fiancee Visa: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the K-1 Visa?
The K-1 Visa allows for a foreign national fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the sole purpose of marrying the U.S. citizen within 90 days of entrance.
What are the Requirements For a K-1 Visa?
The three major requirements for a K-1 Visa are:
- The U.S. Citizen and foreign national spouse must have a bona fide intention to marry within 90 days of fiancé(e)s entrance into the United States.
- There is no legal impediments to the couple marrying (i.e. neither individual is currently married).
- The couple must have met within the two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
What if a couple has not met during the two years immediately preceding the two year filing of the K-1 visa petition?
Unfortunately, the two year meeting requirement is written into the statute and cannot be ignored. The immigration agency will not grant the K-1 visa unless the couple has met during the two years immediate preceding the K-1 visa filing, or if the couple demonstrates that they are eligible for a waiver of the meeting requirement.
Can the meeting requirement be waived?
Yes. The USCIS will waive the two year meeting requirement for a couple if they can demonstrate that:
- The meeting requirement would cause the petitioner “extreme hardship,” or
- The meeting requirement would violate a long established custom of the beneficiary’s culture.
Unfortunately, demonstrating either of these two waivers is extremely difficult and seeking a waiver requires careful preparation and presentation of the petition.
Why should I retain an attorney to assist with the K-1 visa?
Peace of Mind. A couple that is beginning the K-1 visa process is beginning a long process that will eventually bring the two individuals together and allow them to live in the United States. However, this process is filled with many pit falls and wrong turns. If a couple does not follow the process correctly, the couple faces the possibility of prolonged separation and grieve. An immigration attorney will do whatever is possible to ensure that no mistakes are made and that the separation is as short and painless as possible.
What is the K-1 Visa Process?
A couple must first obtain a K-1 visa from the USCIS. Once the K-1 visa is obtained, the foreign national fiancé(e) will be required to appear for an interview at the U.S. consulate where the foreign national resides. At the interview, the foreign national will need to demonstrate eligibility for the visa. If successful, the foreign national will be granted an entry permit into the United States. Once an entry permit is granted, the foreign national will be able to enter the United States and marry the U.S. citizen. The marriage must occur within 90 days of entering the United States.
Does the U.S. citizen petitioner need to attend a K-1 visa consular appointment with the foreign national beneficiary?
No, only the beneficiary of a K-1 visa is required to attend the consular interview.
Do I have to marry within 90 Days of Entering the United States?
Yes, the law explicitly states that a K-1 foreign national must marry within 90 days of entering the United States.
What immigration steps need to be done after the K-1 fiancé(e) marries the U.S. citizen petitioner?
Once the couple has married, the K-1 visa beneficiary must apply for a spousal visa and adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident. The beneficiary will only receive conditional permanent residency and will need to petition for removal of conditions two years after obtaining conditional permanent residency.