Love knows no borders, and when your heart leads you to someone from another country, the journey to unite and build a life together often involves navigating the complex world of immigration law.
The K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé(e) visa, is a nonimmigrant visa for those engaged and coming to the United States to get married. You must follow a unique set of requirements for this visa category, so hiring a knowledgeable K-1 visa attorney can make all the difference in navigating this process efficiently.
Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. specializes in immigration law. Our team of experienced attorneys understands the complexities of the K-1 visa process and can guide you through the entire process from start to finish.
This article will also help you on your path to obtaining a K-1 visa. We’ll outline the eligibility requirements, go over the application process, and answer some common questions.
The purpose of the K-1 visa is to give you and your fiancé(e) 90 days to plan and have a wedding in the United States.
However, the main benefit of the K-1 visa is it can provide a pathway for you and your fiancé(e) to build a life together in the U.S. After the marriage ceremony, the foreign spouse can pursue a green card through an adjustment of status and can continue living in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.
The U.S. citizen in the relationship must be the one to petition for their partner. But, to qualify for the K-1 visa category, you and your fiancé(e) must first be eligible.
The requirements for the K-1 fiancé(e) visa include:
Once you arrive in the United States, you must get married within 90 days. If the marriage does not occur, the person with the nonimmigrant visa will need to leave the U.S. The K-1 visa lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, PC can help you with all your paperwork.
Your attorney will help prove to the USCIS that your engagement and soon-to-be marriage is legitimate and not fraudulent. Not only can your attorneys assist you through the K-1 visa process, but they can also assist with applying for your green card once you are married.
Your K-1 visa attorney will be able to help bring your fiancé(e) to the United States as you navigate the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Department of State (DOS), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
There are four steps involved in the K-1 visa process.
The K-1 visa application begins by filing Form I-129F with the USCIS. This form aims to prove your relationship with your fiancé(e) is legitimate and genuine. There are seven parts to Form I-129F.
The first part of the form will ask you for basic biographical information like your name, address, employment history, citizenship information, and information about your parents.
The second part of the form will ask for similar biographical information for the beneficiary, which is the fiancé(e) in need of the K-1 visa. They’ll also ask if you’ve met in person at least once in the last two years.
For this part, you’ll include the date and location where you first met in person. Specify the length of time you spent together and provide a detailed description of what you did and any significant events. You should also include any evidence that supports your description, like photographs, receipts, travel itineraries, and other documentation.
Here’s an example of how you might fill out this section.
On June 10, 2022, I traveled to Manila, Philippines, to meet my fiancé(e) in person. My fiancé(e) and I spent ten days together in Manila from June 10, 2022 to June 20, 2022. During our time together, we went sightseeing and visited several landmarks in Manila, including Rizal Park, Intramuros, and the National Museum of the Philippines. We also enjoyed trying local Filipino cuisine and went to different restaurants. On June 15, 2022, we took a trip to Boracay Island, where we stayed for three days and enjoyed the beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water.
I have attached several pieces of evidence that document our meeting, including:
If you answer no to this question, you’ll have to detail why you should receive an exception. The USCIS may grant an expectation if the immigrant fiancé(e)’s long-standing religious or cultural customs prevented an in-person meeting or if it would cause extreme hardship for the U.S. partner.
To complete this section, you must also disclose if you used an international marriage broker (IMB). An IMB is a business or organization that charges fees to provide matchmaking or social referral services between individuals from different countries seeking to enter into a marriage or romantic relationship.
IMBs are regulated in the United States under the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), passed by Congress in 2005. Under the law, IMBs must perform background checks on their clients and disclose certain information about them to prospective partners, such as any criminal history, marital history, or restraining orders. The purpose of IMBRA is to protect foreign fiancé(e)s and spouses from potential abuse or exploitation by U.S. citizens or residents who use the services of an IMB to find a partner abroad.
This section of Form I-129F asks for information about any criminal history or protective/restraining orders you (the petitioner) may have had in the past, as well as any requests for waivers of filing limitations under the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA).
If you have ever been the subject of a protective or restraining order related to certain specified crimes (such as domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse) or have been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance in any country, you must provide information about the circumstances, locations, dates, and outcomes of each incident.
You must also submit certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and disposition for every arrest or conviction, even if your records were sealed, expunged, or otherwise cleared.
Finally, you’ll indicate if you’re requesting any waivers, which could include:
This section asks you for information about your physical appearance, including ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color. Giving your personal information in Part 4 of Form I-129F can help make your application process faster because UCSIS uses it to schedule your biometrics appointment.
The last three parts of the application are for your signature, an interpreter’s signature, and a preparer’s signature.
The petitioner must submit all requested evidence or supporting documents to complete Form I-129F for a fiancé(e) or spouse visa.
Some of the documentation you might need for this form could include the following:
It costs $535 to file Form I-129F with the USCIS. This fee is non-refundable regardless of whether or not the USCIS approves the petition. It must be paid with a check or money order from a financial institution operating in the United States. The check should be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (do not use any acronyms e.g. USDHS or DHS).
The time it takes USCIS to process your application depends on your location and wait times may vary. While the average wait time currently is about ten months, it could take as little as five months or up to 16 months. You can check the USCIS case processing times calculator for more specific information.
USCIS will likely send you a receipt notice within 30 days. They may also send your a Request for Evidence, which asks for more documentation for your petition. Having an attorney on your side is helpful for communicating with the USCIS, sending additional documentation, or determining if you can appeal if you receive a denial.
At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C., we understand how to properly prepare and submit Form I-129F for a fiancé(e) or spouse visa. We can review the application process, advise which documents to include in your packet, and ensure all materials are submitted correctly. Contact us today for a free consultation.
After USCIS reviews and approves the I-129F petition, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC assigns a case number and sends the approved petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign fiancé(e)’s home country.
Next, the non-citizen fiancé(e) needs to complete Form DS-160. It’s an online application used by the U.S. Department of State to collect information about visa applicants. You’ll need your passport, travel itinerary, National ID number, and photo to complete this form.
It will ask about your travel plans, your U.S. point of contact, relatives, work history, and education. After completing Form DS-160, you must print the confirmation page and take it to your interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
The costs $265 to file Form DS-160. Each additional person accompanying the K-1 visa holder (for example, minor children) will also have to pay $265.
The K-1 visa interview is crucial in the fiancé(e) visa application process. The foreign fiancé(e) meets with a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
The foreign fiancé(e) must review all the information in the application and be prepared to answer questions about their relationship, background, and plans with their U.S. citizen partner. The consular officer may ask questions about how the couple met, the timeline of their relationship, their families, and wedding plans. It’s crucial to answer these questions honestly and confidently.
They must also show the financial means to support the non-citizen fiancé(e) while in the U.S. by submitting Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support.
On the interview day, the foreign national fiancé(e) should arrive early and be prepared to wait because there may be a queue.
If the consular officer is satisfied with the information and evidence provided, they will approve the K-1 visa application. The non-citizen fiancé(e)’s passport will be stamped with the visa and they will have six months from the date of issuance to enter the United States.
Sometimes, the officer may request additional information or put the application on hold for further review. If the application is denied, the officer will provide the reasons for the denial and any options for appeal or reapplication.
Even though their fiancé(e) is petitioning for them, the person receiving the visa must show the following evidence and documentation at the visa interview:
When you receive your K-1 fiancé(e) visa, you must apply for a U.S. port-of-entry using your visa.
If your fiancé(e) receives a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, they should book their flight immediately. The K-1 visa is valid for 6 months, so they must travel within that time.
Once you have a valid K-1 nonimmigrant visa, you must be inspected at a port of entry. The fiancé(e) visa does not give you guaranteed entry into the United States. A CBP officer will inspect you and make the final determination.
It is also important to note that you will be given other documents in a sealed packet along with your visa. The immigration officer will open the packet, so ensure it remains sealed when entering the United States.
Once the foreign fiancé(e) enters the United States on a K-1 visa, the couple must get married within 90 days. Failing to do so will result in the non-citizen fiancé(e) being required to leave the U.S.
After the wedding, the next step is for the non-citizen spouse to apply for permanent residency, also known as a green card, by filing for an adjustment of status with Form I-485.
The U.S. citizen spouse should also file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to demonstrate financial support for their foreign spouse, and Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
These forms should be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with supporting documents, including a copy of the marriage certificate and evidence of the ongoing relationship.
The timeline will always vary depending on the current workload at the USCIS, NVC, and your U.S. embassy or consulate. However, the average processing time for Form I-195F is about 10 months. Additionally, it could take 4-6 weeks to get an interview at your embassy (or longer in some circumstances). You should be prepared for the K-1 Visa to take anywhere from 6 to 18 months.
The cost of a K-1 visa includes several fees associated with different stages of the application process. The forms I-129F and DS-160 together cost $800.
However, there will likely be additional costs that will vary depending on your situation and location. These expenses could include the following:
No, a K-1 visa cannot be extended. The K-1 visa is a single-entry visa that allows the non-citizen fiancé(e) to enter the United States to marry their U.S. citizen partner within 90 days of arrival. Once the 90-day period is over, the K-1 visa automatically expires.
If the couple does not get married within the 90-day timeframe, the non-citizen fiancé(e) must leave the United States. Failure to depart the U.S. in this situation may result in future immigration problems, including denial of adjustment of status and possible removal proceedings.
If the couple cannot marry within 90 days due to unforeseen circumstances, they may need to restart the K-1 visa application process or explore other visa options, such as a spousal visa (CR1 or IR1), depending on their situation.
Yes, you can work in the U.S. with a K-1 visa, but you need to obtain a work permit called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) before starting any employment. After entering the United States on a K-1 visa, the non-citizen fiancé(e) can apply for the EAD by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
It is important to note that the EAD granted to K-1 visa holders will be valid only for the 90-day duration of their K-1 visa status. After the marriage and filing of the I-485 application for adjustment of status, the non-citizen spouse can apply for a new EAD based on their pending adjustment of status application. The new EAD will have a longer validity, typically one year, and can be renewed until the foreign spouse receives their green card.
An Affidavit of Support is not required during the initial K-1 visa application process. However, the U.S. citizen petitioner must submit Form I-134, Declaration of Financial Support, during the visa interview stage to demonstrate that they have adequate financial means to support their non-citizen fiancé(e) in the United States.
This form promises that the U.S. citizen petitioner will financially support their fiancé(e) so they will not become a public charge.
When the non-citizen fiancé(e) applies for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident after marriage, the U.S. citizen spouse must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This form is legally binding and guarantees that the U.S. citizen spouse will provide financial support for their spouse to ensure they do not rely on public assistance.
The experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. are here to support you in applying for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa. We have fiancé(e) visa services to help you, your fiancé(e), and your children obtain the K-1 nonimmigrant visa. If you are searching for an immigration lawyer for a K-1 visa, our team is here to represent you. Contact us today with any questions you may have.