What is a K1 Visa?
K-1 Visas are also known as the fiance visa. They permit foreign nationals intending on marrying a U.S. citizen to enter the United States on a nonimmigrant status for a duration of 90 days. A U.S. citizen must file Form I-129F; Petition for a Foreign Fiance in order for the application to qualify for a K1 Visa. Other eligibility requirements must be met before filing the petition:
- The U.S. Citizen and foreign national must have met in person at least once in the last two years unless:
- Meeting would violate long-standing cultural customs of the fiance’s foreign background
- Meeting would result in hardship for the U.S. Citizen
- The U.S. Citizen and foreign national are free to marry and possible previous marriages have been nullified due to divorce, death, or annulment
- The U.S. Citizen and foreign national plan on marrying within 90 days of the foreign national’s arrival into the United States
How can my foreign national fiance obtain a K1 Visa?
Filing Form I-129F
A U.S. Citizen, or the petitioner, files Form I-129F on behalf of his or her foreign national fiance, the beneficiary, to USCIS. Once the USCIS reviews documents, eligibility, and background checks, they will determine if the petition will be approved or not. Approval of Form I-129F does not guarantee a K1 Visa. It signifies that USCIS recognizes the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
The USCIS will send the approved petition for a K-1 Visa to the National Visa Center (NVC) which will then transfer the petition to the appropriate embassy or consulate in the country of the foreign national fiance.
The NVC will notify the foreign national of when to apply for the K1 Visa from their end. To begin the process, he or she must go to the U.S. embassy or consulate to which the Form I-129F petition was sent and submit the following:
- proof of relationship
- personal and government issued documents
- medical exam
The Department of State will review the documents and conduct a background check on the foreign national. An interview at the consulate will also take place and that determines whether a K-1 Visa will be issued or not. If the Department of State officer finds that the relationship is suspicious, or the background of the foreign national is a cause for suspicion, the K1 Visa will not be granted. A K1 Visa, similarly to every visa, does not guarantee admission into the United States.
Entering the United States
Once the foreign national’s passport is returned with the K1 Visa. He or she may travel to the United States at a port of entry. Customs and Border Patrol will inspect the validity of documentation, biometrics, background, and immigration information as well as conduct an interview. Once admitted, the foreign national fiance will have 90 days to marry the petitioner U.S. citizen.
Adjustment of Status
Once the U.S. citizen and foreign national have married, the K-1 Visa holder must adjust his or her status to a lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder by filing Form I-485 with the USCIS. Background checks will be performed and interviews given to both parties of the couple. Additionally, if the couple has been married for two years or less by the time Form I-485 is approved, a conditional green card will be granted that is only valid for two years.
Conditional green cards must be adjusted by removing the conditions attached to it. The foreign national must file Form I-751 before the two years have passed on his or her conditional green card. Then, they will become a permanent resident and must follow the typical green card process to become a U.S. citizen.