Among the most commonly requested visa for U.S. entry is the K1 visa which is a nonimmigrant visa issued to the foreign-citizen fiancé or fiancée of a United States citizen for purposes of permitting the fiancé to enter the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner (sponsor) within 90 days from arrival and to file the requirements for the adjustment of status.
After marriage, the foreign citizen can then apply for adjustment of status (filing of Form I-864 to USCIS) to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Although the K1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, it bestows the holder immigration benefits and is therefore processed by the Immigrant Visa section of U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.
Why Apply for a Fiancé Visa?
K1 visas were created to eliminate unnecessary separations between a foreign-citizen fiancé and a U.S. citizen, which may be caused by delays in the usual processing of immigrant visas of the foreign fiancé.
K1 visas are useful in cases where a foreign citizen and a U.S. citizen cannot legally marry in a foreign country, even though such marriage is legally allowed in the U.S.. There are also some couples who would prefer to have their wedding venue in the U.S..
There should be no legal impediment for a foreign fiancé and a U.S. citizen fiancé to marry during the application for a K1 visa.
It is required that the foreign fiancé must have met (Personal Meeting requirement) the U.S. citizen fiancé within the last 2 years upon application.
Evidence or documentation showing that the couple plans to marry soon is also necessary.
Conditions and activities that may make a foreign fiance, ineligible for a visa may include but are not limited to overstaying under a visa, fraud, and drug trafficking.
Process and Requirements for Applying for a Fiancé Visa:
1. Filing the Petition
The U.S. citizen fiancé (sponsor) initiates the application through the filing of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the USCIS office where the U.S. citizen fiancé resides.
It is important to note that Form I-129F cannot be filed at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or USCIS office abroad. The Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129F can be found at the USCIS website under the Fiancé(e) Visas tab/section.
2. USCIS Approval
After the petition is approved by the USCIS, it is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will give you a case number and send your petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé(e) lives.
3. Visa Application
The NVC will notify the U.S. citizen fiancé via mail once the case for application of the fiancé(e) is sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Upon receipt of the said letter, the U.S. fiancé citizen must inform the foreign fiancé(e) to prepare and take the following steps in their K1 visa application and interview:
- Copy of the printed, filled, and completed Form DS-160 – Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application which the finance shall bring to the visa application and interview.
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date of at least six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless otherwise there are country-specific exemptions).
- Birth certificate.
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both the foreign fiancé and the U.S. citizen fiancé.
- Police certificates issued by the foreign fiancé’s current country of residence, including all countries where the foreign fiancé has lived for six (6) months or more since age 16.
- Medical examination.
The medical examination must be performed by an authorized physician. Information about the authorized physicians and additional instructions regarding the medical examinations will be provided by U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the foreign fiance will apply for the visa.
Note that vaccination requirement is optional unless the foreign fiancé plans to stay in the U.S. and apply for a green card. The medical examination must be performed by an authorized panel physician. You will be provided instructions regarding medical examinations from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa, including information on authorized panel physicians.
- Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support).
Any evidence showing that the foreign fiance will not become a public charge in the U.S., including evidence that the foreign fiance can financially support his or herself or that the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is able to provide support.
The Consular Officer may request that a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support be submitted by the U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Applicants presenting Form I-134 will need to show that the U.S. fiance’s income is 100 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
In case a Form I-864 will be required, the 125% of the federal poverty guideline minimum income requirement, the most recent year’s tax return, and other requirements shall apply.
- Two (2) 2×2 photographs (passport style)
- Evidence of relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and related evidence that such relationship is genuine.
- Payment for Visa fees:
– Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
– Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-160
– Medical examination
– Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
Note that all documents must be clear or legible photocopies thereof. Original documents and translations submitted will be returned.
4. Additional Instructions and Information
Additional U.S. Embassy/Consulate Specific Instructions
More information about the specific Embassy/Consulate-Specific instructions can be found at the travel.state.gov website. – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/list-of-posts-k1-k3-visas.html
Rights and Protections – Pamphlet
The consular officer shall summarize the rights and protections pamphlet to the foreign fiancé during the interview.
The rights and protections pamphlet enumerates the rights of the foreign fiancé in the United States against domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.
Criminal Background of U.S. Citizen Fiancé
Any existing criminal background information on the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) that USCIS received from other government agencies during the processing of Form I-129F will be provided to the foreign fiancé.
So Is it Difficult to Apply for a K1 visa?
The approval of the K1 visa may vary from case to case according to circumstances, and in most cases can be denied or delayed simply because of the applicant’s fault for not being able to provide the correct information or follow instructions.
Weak evidence of showing or proving an existing relationship between the foreign fiancé and the U.S. citizen fiancé are also one of the leading causes of denial of a K1 visa application.
While the K1 visa application may be difficult, the overall process and approval can be made faster and easier with the assistance of a capable legal representative.
Given the plethora of evidence and documentation that needs to be filed on the application, it is best if these are prepared on behalf of the applicant by a competent immigration lawyer.