The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant classification meant for the United States citizens who want to bring their foreign national fiancé(e)s to the U.S. in order to get married. If granted, the K-1 visa will be used by the foreign national fiancé(e) to travel to the United States, get married within 90 days after arrival, apply for a green card, and live permanently in the U.S.
It could also lead to the United States citizenship with all the rights and privileges attached. However, just like all other U.S. visa types, both parties have specific eligibility criteria they must meet either as a beneficiary or a sponsor. This post gives you all you need to know on how to sponsor a K-1 visa successfully.
The word fiancée or fiancé is a French word, which means someone who is engaged to get married.
- Fiancé is for man
- fiancée is for woman
However, to avoid repetition, we shall use the term “fiancé(e)” throughout the rest of this article to represent both genders.
Eligibility Criteria for Sponsoring K-1 Visa
Before an application for K-1 visa can be approved, the following conditions must be met and proven beyond a reasonable doubt as a K-1 sponsor:
You must be a U.S. citizen—a lawful permanent resident cannot sponsor a K-1 visa.
Legally Free to Marry One another
This means you have both met all the legal obligations required to get married in the United States. This includes terminating previous marriages if both or either of you has been previously married.
The previous marriage must have been legally terminated by divorce, annulment, or death. You will need to provide proof to support this before you can be deemed qualified for K-1 visa sponsorship.
Readiness to Marry Within 90 Days
You and your fiancé(e) must be ready to marry within 90 days of his or her admission into the U.S. on a K-1 visa. You must provide a signed statement showing your intention to get married within that period.
It will also be helpful to have other evidence to back this up. If you have already printed your wedding invitations and made payments associated with the wedding, you can include copies of the invitation card, receipts of payments for wedding items as supporting documents to prove this requirement.
Must Have Met in Person
You and your fiancé(e) must have met each other in person at least once within the two years leading up to your petition. You will need to provide proof of this meeting with evidence such as photographs, hotel reservations, plane tickets, etc.
NOTE: Phone conversations, social media chatting, video calls, and other meetings by electronic means will not count as meeting in person. However, you may request a waiver for the “meeting in person requirement” if you can show that meeting your fiancé(e) in person would:
- Violate strict customs of your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture; or
- Result in extreme hardship to you, the U.S. citizen sponsor.
Income Requirements for the K-1 Visa Sponsor
As part of the eligibility criteria, you will need to sign an affidavit of support showing your readiness and financial ability to provide your foreign fiancé(e) with the needed financial support. The affidavit of support document for the K-1 visa is officially known as the I-134. In the form, your income must indicate your ability to provide for yourself, your sponsored fiancé(e), and any other dependent member of your household.
The minimum required income is 100% of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) minimum poverty guidelines. Currently, the 2019 edition minimum if you live in any of the 48 contiguous states is $16,910, $21,330, $24,750 for household sizes of 2, 3, and 4 members respectively. For each additional person, just add $4,420 to get the accurate figure.
However, if you live in Alaska or Hawaii, the amount is $26,412 and $24,325 respectively, and the cost for any additional person is $6,912 and $6,350 respectively. This is due to the higher cost of living in those two states. Here is the full details of income requirement for K-1 visa sponsor.
K-1 Visa Sponsor: Processing Guidelines
The process for bringing your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States involves different stages with different immigration agencies. They are the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the Department of State (DOS), and the agency for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Each stage of the K-1 fiancé(e) visa process is explained below:
Step 1: File 1-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)
This is the first form to be filed by the U.S. citizen fiancé(e). The 1-129F is filed to petition the USCIS to recognize the relationship between you and your fiancé(e). You must prove the validity of your relationship with documentary evidence showing you have a genuine relationship with your foreign fiancé(e). You must submit the supporting documents listed below with the form:
- Proof of your U.S. citizenship – a copy of your passport, naturalization certificate, or birth certificate.
- Copy of your fiancé(e)’s passport
- Proof of your past meeting in person within the past two years before filing the petition
- Written and signed sworn statements by each partner describing the nature of your relationship as well as your intention and readiness to marry within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States.
- One passport photo of you and one passport photo of your fiancé(e)
- If your fiancé(e) has visited the U.S. before, you may also submit a copy of their previously issued I-94 arrival-departure record.
The I-129F, along with the supporting documents, must be filed to the appropriate address, choosing one of these two options. The USCIS will send you a notice of receipt within 30 days after receiving your petition. And if there is a need for additional information or documentation, you will receive a letter stating the additional item(s) you need to send.
The USCIS will review your petition and issue either an approval or denial notice. If your petition is denied, the notice will contain the reason for the denial. The processing time usually depends on the workload at the service center handling your case. The final decision may take between 6 to 9 months. Once your petition is approved, the USCIS will forward the approved I-129 to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC), which will oversee the next stage of your fiancé(e) visa application.
Step 2: DS-160 for K-1 Nonimmigrant Visa Application
The U.S. embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) lives will receive the approved I-129 from the NVC. Your fiancé(e) will then need to apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa at the embassy or consulate. You will receive a message from NVC stating the scheduled date and location of the K-1 visa interview for your fiancé(e) in that country.
Before the interview date, the foreign fiancé(e) will need to complete the DS-160 application online, otherwise known as Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. He or she will need to print the confirmation page of the form and keep it as one of the documents for the K-1 visa interview. The DS-160 must be submitted along with the following supporting documents:
- These documents are the responsibility of the sponsored fiancé(e):
- Two passport photographs
- Valid passport
- Birth certificate
- Sealed immigration medical exam form. (See the complete immigration medical examination guideline).
2. These following documents are the responsibility of the K-1 visa sponsor:
- I-134 Affidavit of Support
- Most recent tax return
- Copy of the approved I-129F from the USCIS.
It is within the discretion of DOS to either approve or deny your fiancé(e) a K-1 visa. If the application is approved, the foreign fiancé(e) will be issued a visa, which will allow him or her to travel to the U.S. and seek admission at a port of entry.
Step 3: The Foreign Fiancé(e) Seeks Admission at Port of Entry
Upon arriving at the port of entry, the fiancé(e) will be interviewed by a CBP officer, who will decide whether to admit him or her. If your fiancé(e) is granted admission into the U.S., then you both can commence wedding arrangements, which must take place within 90 days of the arrival.
Does K-1 Visa Sponsor Need Immigration Interview?
As the sponsor, you are not required to attend the K-1 visa interview. All that is required of you is to sponsor the visa and prove your eligibility and ability to support your fiancé(e) financially. The visa interview is for your foreign national fiancé(e) who is the beneficiary of the petition. And as stated above, it will be held at the embassy or consulate where the beneficiary resides.
However, if you’d like, you may be at the interview with your fiancé(e) to provide support. Also, if there is any derivative K-2 beneficiary of the visa (usually child of the beneficiary fiancé(e)), the person will need to attend the interview. Depending on the embassy’s policy, the derivative K-2 beneficiary may get a waiver for the interview if he or she is a minor under 14 years of age. See examples of some K-1 visa interview questions you can expect.
K-1 Visa to Green Card
After your marriage, your fiancé(e)—now your spouse—can apply for a marriage-based green card and become a lawful permanent resident. This is very important, especially if you both wish to settle down and live together as one family in the U.S.
This process will also involve a series of documentation and interviews for the two of you. As the K-1 visa sponsor, you will also be the one to sponsor the petition filing green card sponsorship petition and submitting an affidavit of support. Your spouse will also submit an I-485 to change his or status from a K-1 visa to a marriage-based green card.
However, keep in mind that green card sponsorship is entirely different from K-1 visa sponsorship. However, with the right help, you can make the whole process a smooth experience.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Here at Immi-USA, we have a team of highly experienced K-1 visa immigration attorneys who have helped many immigrants file and acquire their fiancé(e) visas. Our lawyers will help you prepare your forms and documents, including the affidavit of support.
We will also guide you through the interview process and all other aspects of your application. From start to finish, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands. You can schedule a consultation with our office today by filling out this contact form.