K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Background
The K-1 fiancé(e) visa is a nonimmigrant classification of marriage-based visa that is designed for the foreign-born fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens. It gives those foreign fiancé(e)s the opportunity to come to the U.S. with the intention of marrying their U.S. citizen fiancé(e)s who are sponsoring their visas.
The K-1 visa provides 90 days for the marriage to take place. After that, the foreign fiancé(e) can apply for an adjustment of status with the USCIS in order to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and receive a green card. The K-1 visa also allows for any dependents of the foreign fiancé(e) to come to the U.S. under K-2 visa status.
Due to the fact that the primary purpose of this visa class is for eventual permanent immigration, applicants will need to fulfill some requirements usually associated with an immigrant visa.
Definition of a Fiancé(e)
According to the regulations set by United States immigration law, the official definition of a fiancé(e) is anyone who receives an I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) that has been approved. This person should also be coming to the U.S. to marry the U.S. citizen that has sponsored him or her and filed the petition on his or her behalf.
Both members of the relationship must not have any binding marital obligations. These means that any previous marriages must have been terminated through divorce, annulment, or death, leaving each fiancé(e) free to marry in the U.S. on the date when the
I-129F petition is filed with the USCIS. The marriage must also adhere to the laws that are particular to the specific state where the marriage ceremony will happen.
K-1 Visa Process:
Here are the main steps in the K-1 process:
- The U.S. citizen who is sponsoring the foreign fiancé(e) must submit an I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) to the USCIS field office closest to the area where the U.S. citizen lives. It is important to note that the I-129F cannot be submitted to a U.S. embassy, consulate, or overseas USCIS office.
- After the USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing, and the NVC will send it to the U.S. consulate or embassy after assigning it a case number.
- Once the U.S. embassy or consulate where the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) will apply, receives the petition from NVC, it will provide the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) with specific instructions, including where to go for the required medical examination. The foreign-citizen fiancé(e) will then be called in for an interview at the consulate for the issuance of a K-3 visa.
Required Fiancé Visa Documentation:
The K-1 fiancé(e) and all eligible dependents who wish to apply for the K-2 visa will need to bring these items to the K-1 visa interview:
- Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application DS-160. There should be one completed application per K visa applicant.
- A valid passport with a validity period that extends a minimum of six months past the intended duration of stay in the United States. Note: there may be exceptions that are specific to each country, ask your immigration attorney for more information.
- The foreign fiancé(e)’s birth certificate
- Divorce and/or death certificates from any prior marriages for both the foreign citizen fiancé(e) and the sponsoring U.S. citizen.
- The police certificate from the country in which the foreign-born fiancé(e) currently resides. The police certificates will also be required from any nation in which the foreign fiancé(e) has lived for more than six months since he or she was sixteen years old
- Evidence of an approved medical examination
- Proof of sustainable financial support to evidence that the fiancé(e) will not financially rely on the U.S. economy. (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may be requested)
- Two (2) passport-style photos. See these photograph requirements from the Department of State.
- Proof that a valid and non-fraudulent relationship exists between both the U.S. citizen sponsor and the foreign fiancé(e).
- The payment for all accompanying visa fees.
To help ensure that all of your documents are completely filled out and to also help avoid any unnecessary setbacks, it is always advisable to retain a qualified fiancé(e) visa lawyer.
How Much Does a K-1 Visa Cost?
There are several costs to take into account when applying for a K-1 fiance visa. The first is the filing fee for the I-129F, which comes out to be $535. This is paid by the fiance who is sponsoring the beneficiary when he or she files the petition. Fortunately, there is no cost for filing K-3 petitions provided that an I-130 Petition of Alien Relative has been submitted to the USCIS by that same U.S. citizen sponsor.
The second fiance visa cost that should be considered is the cost of traveling to and from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy for your interview. Obviously, this will depend on your mode of travel and distance from the consulate.
The third is the cost of your attorney, which can vary widely. You can see the flat fee that we charge on our attorney fees page.
What Should I Expect At The Interview?
The K-1 visa interview is designed to allow immigration officers an opportunity to determine if your relationship is a sham created with the purpose of entering the U.S. through fraudulent means. While this may seem intimidating, it should not be a serious issue for those who maintain a legitimate relationship with their foreign fiancé(e).
The officer will conduct the interview by asking you simple questions about your fiancé(e) and your relationship (e.g. where does he/she work, how long have you known him/her, etc.). Overall, the interview should not take very long and you should be on your way to a green card in no time.
A great way to make sure that you are as prepared as possible for the K-1 visa interview is to go over the specifics of your situation and relationship with an experienced fiance visa lawyer.
What Happens After Marriage?
Once the marriage has taken place, your new spouse is able to apply for Adjustment of Status in order for him/her to work and live permanently in the country, effectively finishing the K-1 visa process
K-1 and K-2 visa holders may file an application for employment authorization (EAD). It’s important to note that if you file the application prior to filing the Adjustment of Status, then your EAD will expire within the 90-day window (when K-1 expires). For that reason, it’s advised to apply afterward.
Getting a Social Security Number
Most individuals are curious about when they get a social security number following marriage. You are able to acquire an SSN after providing an unexpired I-94. You must also have an EAD first before getting an SSN.
Tip: Applying too soon for your SSN could actually result in delays. Wait approximately two weeks after arriving in the country. Otherwise, it may require manual verification from the USCIS because your records of arrival may not be saved in the system yet.
Here’s the process:
Take your marriage certificate with you to the SS office to prove your new married name. If you happen to be making a name change after the marriage is finalized, go to the SS office with your marriage certificate to file for a name change.
What If I Get a K-1 Visa Denial
There are a few reasons why your K-1 visa may be denied. One of the more common and mundane reasons is simply because there was incorrect, incomplete, or inconsistent information on the I-129F. In this case, you can simply correct the mistake and refile the petition with a new fee. the best way to avoid this delay is to have an immigration attorney review your petition before filing.
Another reason why your visa might be denied is if the immigration officer at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy is not convinced of the legitimacy of your engagement. Unfortunately, this can easily happen if there has been a high number of fraudulent applicants coming from your particular country.
K-1 Visa To Green Card
Unlike some of the other immigrant visa categories, the process of going from a K class visa to a green card is a little bit different. Thanks to the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act (or LIFE Act), nonimmigrants from all four K visas can apply to have their statuses adjusted to green card status.
This differs from the usual green card process in the fact that the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is no longer required for K-1 and K-2 holders. This was done to cut down on the amount of time that families would need to be separated while they waited for the petition’s priority date to be current. Instead, the USCIS states that, provided that you meet the following criteria, you would only need to file an I-485 application in order to go from a K visa to a marriage-based green card.
To be eligible, you must:
- be a K class visa holder
- have married your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within the 90-day window if you are a K-1 holder
- be eligible to adjust your status
- have an available immigrant visa number
- be able to enter the U.S.
The timeframe for adjustment of status varies based on the K visa you have:
- K-1 (foreign fiancé(e)s) holders should adjust their statuses as soon as they marry their U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
- K-2 holders (children of foreign fiancé(e)s) should adjust their statuses at the same time as their K-1 parent.
- K-3 holders (foreign spouses) can adjust their statuses as soon as they enter the U.S.
- K-4 holders (children of foreign spouses) should adjust their statuses at the same time as their K-3 parent.
As a K-1 applicant, you will need to factor the amount of time it will take to get married and receive your marriage certificate before filing the I-485 to adjust your status from a K-1 visa to a green card.
Required Supporting Evidence
To make the adjustment, you will need to submit the following documentation along with your I-485:
- Two photos that adhere to the Department of State’s passport guidelines.
- Your biographical information in a G-325A form.
- A copy of an official photo ID
- A copy of your official birth certificate
- A copy of your passport containing your K class visa
- Your I-94 arrival/departure form
- Your marriage certificate if you have a K-1 visa
- The Affidavit of Support Form I-864
- A copy of any form or application that you used in conjunction with your K class visa.
- A copy of a pending I-130 petition if you are a K-3 or K-4 holder.
- The correct filing fees
K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is acceptable proof as evidence of a fiancé(e)
Things like family and relationship photographs, phone records, letters, cards, etc. During your interview, you will be asked questions that will help the officer verify your relationship. Consult with a K-1 Visa lawyer to determine which other documents may be appropriate.
Q. Is a K-1 Visa holder able to exit the US?
A K-1 visa holder upon arriving in the US is not allowed to leave and re-enter on the same visa. If you intend to exit the country then re-enter it’s recommended to apply for a travel document with Form I-131 or adjust your status to legal permanent resident.
Q. Is a K-1 Visa holder allowed to work in the country?
Yes, you can. As we previously mentioned they can once they file Form I-765 for employment authorization and meet the other eligibility requirements.
Q. What is the K-1 Visa Processing time?
There is no exact answer for this since the time period varies largely in relation to the details of the case. For example, the time it takes for your I-129F petition to be processed largely depends on how busy the USCIS service center is. The same can be applied to the U.S. consulate or embassy when it comes to the interview.
However, the processing time for your green card will most likely not be very long. For most green card applicants must wait until their priority date (the date that their immigrant petition was received by the USCIS) is current with the final action dates posted in a monthly visa bulletin by the Department of State.
However, as previously mentioned, those with K-1 and K-2 visa status are not required to have an I-130 petition filed on their behalf and so only need to wait until the I-485 has been processed, which can take an average of six months depending on the service center’s caseload.
To gain a better understanding of the total amount of time that it will take to go through the K-1 process, it’s best to consult a K-1 visa lawyer for more details.
Q. Is there a limit on the number of filing petitions?
Two or more K-1 visa filings in your past may require you to apply for a waiver. Also, if you’ve had an approved K-1 petition within the last two years, the same applies.
Q. Do I need a medical examination to adjust my status?
According to the USCIS, you will not need to obtain a medical examination provided that:
- You already obtained one for your K-1 visa
- The I-485 was filed within one year of that exam
- You did not have a Class A condition when you were examined, or
- You obtained a waiver of inadmissibility for your Class A condition.
Q. What are the consequence of marriage fraud?
There are strict penalties for those who engage in marriage fraud including five years of imprisonment, hefty fines, or both. At the very least, there will be marks put onto your immigration record that may inhibit your ability to apply for a visa or green card in the future. The bottom line is, make sure that your case is legitimate.
Why Do I Need a K-1 Visa Lawyer?
Our K-1 visa lawyers have assisted several clients with complex situations and have successfully obtained K-1 visas for foreign citizen fiancé(e)s.
The process of sponsoring a foreign fiancé(e) can be very stressful. A K-1 fiancé(e) visa attorney can provide you with expert guidance every step of the way and take the burden out of preparing and filing the necessary forms with supporting documentation. If you would like to take advantage of our expertise and our flat K-1 visa lawyer fees, you can fill out this contact form to schedule a consultation today.
MARRIAGE GREEN CARD – RELATED PAGES
- Children of US Citizen K-2 Visa
- Spouse of US Citizen K-3 Visa
- K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Processing Times
- K-1 Adjustment of Status