The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa designed for a foreign fiancé to come to the United States to join their U.S. citizen partner. One of the major K-1 visa requirements includes the couple needing to get married within 90 days of the foreign partner entering the U.S. We’ll explore common K-1 visa questions including travel restrictions, processing time, income requirements, Form I-129F, and all other K-1 visa requirements.
K1 Visa Questions
Below are some common K-1 visa questions we’ve received. If you have additional questions not outlined in this article, it’s best to contact our office directly.
Who is eligible for the K-1 visa?
A U.S. citizen can sponsor a foreign-born individual they want to marry by bringing them to the United States on the K-1 fiancé visa. The basic K-1 visa requirements to be eligible for the visa are:
- U.S. citizen partner to sponsor the visa
- Clear intent to marry each other in the 90-day window
- Both people are single (not married already)
- Have met in person within the past two years before filing the petition
How long is a K-1 visa valid for?
The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant temporary visa with a six-month window for the foreign-born fiancé to enter the United States after being issued. Once the foreign-born partner enters the United States, the couple has 90 days to get married. If they do not get married within that time frame, then the foreign partner will need to return to their home country. Note that this visa is considered single-use, so the fiancé cannot leave and return to the United States with it after the first entry into the United States.
If they overstay their visa for more than six months, they may face being banned from the United States for up to ten years.
What if I get married past the 90-day window?
If you get married, but it’s past the 90-day window, you have to file an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
Is there a limit of K-1 visas every year?
Unlike other visas with annual caps issued by the government, the K-1 fiancé visa does not have a limit. This also means you can avoid long wait times that are part of the process with other nonimmigrant visas with annual caps.
Can a same-sex couple apply for the K-1 visa?
If you’re considering the K-1 visa for you and your partner because same-sex marriage is not legal in the foreign-born partner’s country, then the K-1 visa might be a suitable option. For heterosexual couples, sometimes the couple decides to get married in the foreign partner’s country and then apply for a marriage visa for the United States. However, if same-sex marriage is not legal in the foreign partner’s country, then the K-1 is a good solution. The qualifications for a same-sex fiancé visa are the same as those for a heterosexual couple in the U.S. You still need to meet in person, and it must be within the last two years. Some exceptions can be made for some religious reasons or serious medical conditions preventing travel. You would then gather any relevant documents and evidence to demonstrate the legitimacy of your relationship. Examples of evidence include photos, emails, plane tickets, passport stamps, written correspondence, and testimony from friends or family aware of the relationship. From there, the citizen partner would file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé with USCIS. We recommend performing these steps alongside a qualified immigration attorney to avoid any filing errors.
If I already live in the U.S. as a foreign-born person, do I still need the K-1 visa to get married to my U.S. citizen partner?
If you, as the foreign-born fiancé, are already living in the United States and wish to get married to your U.S. citizen partner, you may be better off skipping the K-1 visa and instead file for the spousal visa after getting married. However, a case like this is best handled by a qualified immigration professional to ensure that you comply with all immigration laws on your current immigrant visa.
Can I get the K-1 visa if I’m thinking about getting married but not sure?
You really should be serious and have a strong intention to get married to your partner with the K-1 visa. If you’re on the fence, it may be better to hold off until your more sure about the relationship.
What is the minimum K-1 visa income requirement?
The minimum K-1 visa income requirement is based on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2021 poverty guidelines. The guideline is used to qualify the affidavit of support and demonstrate that the visa sponsor is capable of petitioning for their foreign fiancé and supporting any children the sponsor has, past immigrant(s) sponsored, and the K-1 spouse’s dependents.
When calculating the personal income figures, the income from other residents in the household related to the petitioning sponsor by birth/marriage/adoption is also considered to meet the minimum income requirement. However, that person(s) must be noted as a dependent in your most recent tax return or been living with the petitioning sponsor for the past 6 months. For a family/household of one, the 2021 poverty guidelines (for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia) is $12,880. For a household of two, the sponsoring citizen must make at least $17,420. For a household of three, you must make a minimum of $21,960.
The chart below outlines the minimum income requirement for households up to eight people. If you have more than eight people in your family/household, you need to add $4,540 for each additional person. Do you live in Alaska or Hawaii? If so, those poverty guidelines are a little bit higher because of the cost of living. You can see those charts here.
Poverty Guidelines (48 Contiguous States & D.C.)
Number of Household/Family Members
For more than 8 people add $4,540 per person
You can find the guidelines for Alaska and Hawaii at the Department of Health & Human Services website.
What if I can’t meet the income requirement?
While income is one of the primary K-1 visa requirements.
One includes listing your assets’ cash values, and the other is to have a joint sponsor. It’s important to keep in mind that the assets have to be worth at least three times the difference between your household income and the income requirement.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate this point.
Say you live in Georgia and have three other members of your household; your minimum income requirement would be $21,960. If the household income is $15,000, you would need to make up a difference of $6,960, so your assets need to be $20,880—three times $6,960. Assets that can be considered for the net value include your home, car, money in bank accounts, stocks, or bonds.
The other option if your assets’ net value does not equal enough to meet the difference is to get a joint sponsor to use on the K-1 visa. What is their role? They accept the legal responsibility of sponsoring the family with you, and they must meet the poverty guidelines alone. The joint sponsor does not need to be related to the fiancé.
What if I haven’t met my fiancé in person?
While one of the most important K-1 visa requirements, there are exceptions to the rule of meeting your fiancé within the past two years. One such exception is if there are religious practices that prevent the couple from meeting in person. You’d need to demonstrate to USCIS that the principles are part of the religion when asking for the personal meeting requirement exemption. Another possible exemption is a serious medical condition that prevents travel. Financial hardship is typically not a good enough reason for USCIS to issue an exemption.
Can my kids come with me if I have a K-1 visa?
The good news is that under a K-1 visa, the foreign-born partner’s children can obtain K-2 visas to come to the United States. The children need to be unmarried and under 21 years old to qualify. They’ll also be able to apply for green cards after the couple gets married.
What are the K-1 visa steps?
- Meet your partner in person in the last two years.
- Compile all evidence (photos, plane tickets, letters, chats, passport stamps, hotel receipts, etc.) related to the relationship
- File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé with USCIS – with all evidence of the relationship included. Also, be sure to include the filing fee made out to the U.S Department of Homeland Security. The cost for filing the I-129F is $535.
- After USCIS approves your I-129F, the foreign partner can apply for the K-1 visa through the U.S. embassy or consulate.
- The foreign partner should submit Form DS-160 electronically and include the fee for a nonimmigrant visa application. All people entering the U.S. need their own DS-160 filed, so if there are children (16 or younger), they’ll need one for themselves as well.
- The next K-1 visa requirement is the foreign partner’s medical exam by an embassy-approved doctor. They’ll also need to get a police certificate that indicates no criminal past. If they do have past convictions, they’ll need to get certified records from the police department about them.
- The U.S. citizen partner should then send the foreign partner Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, and include their most recent tax return with W2. They must meet the income requirement.
- After the Affidavit of Support has been sent, the foreign-born fiancé will need to go to their scheduled interview at the U.S. consulate. There, the officer will ask questions about the relationship.
- If you’ve made it to this step, it’s great news! Hopefully, the fiancé visa was approved. From there, they can enter the U.S., and you need to get married within 90 days. After that, you need to file for an adjustment of status for lawful permanent residency. There are additional fees associated with the adjustment of status, and it’s advised to consult an immigration attorney to ensure it is done correctly.
What is the K-1 visa processing time?
The answer to this is greatly dependent on the caseload by USCIS and the foreign-born fiancé’s U.S. embassy or consulate in their country. Typically it can take anywhere from 6-9 months for USCIS to go through Form I-129F plus an added four to six weeks for an interview request to be sent to the foreign partner. Again, these are not guaranteed time frames.
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) Processing Time
California Service Center
Vermont Service Center
Data is based on USCIS Processing Times tool. Times may change without notice.
What does my foreign fiancé have to provide for their DS-160?
The State Department will need the following documents from the sponsored foreign fiancé:
- Birth certificate
- Valid passport with a validity period that extends a minimum of six months past the intended duration of stay in the U.S.
- Two passport-style photos
- Evidence of an approved medical exam by an authorized doctor
- Certified police records
- Any divorce or death certificates from prior spouses of both partners
The citizen partner will need to provide the following documents:
- Form I-134, Affidavit of support
- Recent tax return
- Evidence of the relationship (approved I-129F package that was filed with USCIS)
How much does the K-1 cost?
There are several fees you need to account for if you’re trying to obtain the K-1 visa. The first is the I-129F fee which is $535. Who pays this? The U.S. citizen partner is responsible for paying this. If the U.S. citizen partner has submitted the I-130 Petition, there is no additional cost for filing the K-3 petition. Another cost is the travel costs for the foreign spouse to go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their country for the visa interview. If it’s far from where they live, then the cost may be higher. The last cost is any fees due to an attorney. We offer very competitive rates, which can be seen on our fees page.
How can I prepare for the K-1 visa interview?
The K-1 visa interview is an important part of the overall approval process. What USCIS is looking for are illegitimate relationships or those that are just interested in getting a green card for the United States. All foreign-born K-1 applicants will need to undergo the interview so a consular officer can evaluate their intentions. You’ll be asked questions about how you met your fiancé, what sort of wedding plans are established, your fiancé’s interests and hobbies, and more. Don’t try to answer the questions with what you think is the correct answer, but instead, always be honest and truthful. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t lie. Say, “I don’t know” instead. In total, the interview should last about 20 minutes. The U.S. citizen partner is not required to be at the interview. You should arrive at your interview dressed appropriately and at least 15 minutes early.
What are some K1 visa questions I may be asked?
Here are some sample questions the foreign fiancé may be asked during the K-1 visa interview with the consular officer:
- What is your partner’s name?
- What is your partner’s eye color?
- How old is your partner?
- How did you meet your fiancé?
- Do you (foreign-born fiancé) have any family in the U.S.?
- Are you currently working?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?
- Have you ever applied for the K-1 visa before?
- Have you ever been married before?
- Do you have children? If so, how many?
- Where were you born?
- What are your fiancé’s hobbies?
- Where does your partner live?
- Has a country ever denied you a visa?
You can see more questions possibly asked here.
Should my kids come to the K-1 visa interview?
If the foreign-born partner has children that will also come to the United States on the K-2 visa, then they should also be present at the interview.
What are some red flags a consular officer looks for?
Some common issues that could raise red flags with a consular officer include
- A significant age difference between the two partners,
- If the partners can’t speak each other’s language
- No personal meetings
- If some answers contradict each other
- If the U.S. citizen partner has sponsored someone else on the K-1 visa before.
If these issues are present, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be disqualified, but they are issues you may want to discuss with your attorney ahead of the interview.
What happens after I get married?
After you and your fiance get married, the foreign-born partner will need to apply for their Adjustment of Status so they can gain the ability to work and stay permanently in the U.S. Both K-1 and K-2 holders can file an employment authorization document (EAD). It’s important to file for this after filing the Adjustment of Status. After you get an EAD and have an unexpired I-94, you can get a social security number. Don’t try to apply for a social security number too soon, or it could result in delays. What you’ll need to do is take your marriage certificate to the social security office to show your new, married name along with your marriage certificate.
Does USCIS require a medical exam to have an adjustment of status?
No, they don’t require it at this time assuming you have already obtained your K-1, have filed the I-485 within a year of your L-1 medical exam, did not have a Class A condition during your first examination, and/or you have a waiver of inadmissibility for your condition.
How many times can I file for a K-1 visa?
If the U.S. citizen fiancé has had two or more K-1 filings in the past, they may need to apply for a waiver, and the same goes if they’ve had an approved K-1 petition in the past two years. An immigration attorney can better explain the waiver for this situation.
What happens if I have a fraudulent marriage?
Immigration fraud is a serious crime, and there are severe penalties if you’re convicted of this including imprisonment, large fines, or both. You’ll also have it documented in your immigration record, and it could prevent you from getting U.S. visas or green cards at any point in the future. It’s advised not to have a fraudulent marriage.
Should I hire a lawyer for my K-1 visa?
It’s a smart decision to hire an immigration lawyer for important actions like bringing your fiancé to the United States. Our staff is highly trained and has high approval ratings with K-1 visas. We can assist you in filling out your petition, going through the interview, and getting approval. We’ll ensure all documents are cross-checked and do our best to make the transition with your fiancé’s a smooth one. Are there additional K-1 visa FAQs we didn’t address? Schedule a free consultation with us!