Fiance Visa: The Complete Guide to K1 Fiance Visas
Planning a wedding across borders is challenging, especially if your fiancé is still in their home country and you are stuck in the U.S. Is it possible for your fiancé from abroad to join you in the U.S.? What steps can you follow to get them here?
Below we take a look at how a fiancé visa works and how it can make your wedding planning so much easier!
What is a K1 Fiancé Visa?
Unfortunately, foreign fiancés of U.S. citizens can’t file a petition to become a permanent resident in the U.S. like spouses can. They need to apply for a visa. A K1 visa specifically grants foreigners the right of entry into America to marry a U.S. citizen.
A K1 visa is valid for 90 days after the visa holder has entered the U.S. The wedding date obviously then needs to be within 90 days of your foreign fiancé entering America. If you did not marry within the 90-day period, the K1 visa will expire and the foreign fiancé needs to leave the U.S.
Difference Between Fiancé Visa and a Marriage Green Card?
A marriage Green Card is for a foreigner (non-permanent resident) who is already married to a U.S. citizen. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you can be in the U.S. or in a foreign country to apply for a marriage Green Card. The K1 visa, on the other hand, is for someone who wants entry to the U.S. before they are married to a U.S. citizen. A K1 visa doesn’t grant you permanent residency in the U.S. like a Green Card does.
Who is Eligible for a Fiance Visa?
Like any U.S. visa, there are a few eligibility criteria that need to be fulfilled before you qualify. Here is a short list of the requirements you’ll have to meet.
K1 visa eligibility criteria:
- The sponsor fiancé must be a U.S. citizen
- Proof of the proposed marriage within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s entry into the U.S.
- Both fiancés are legally allowed to marry (for example they aren’t currently married and have proof of previous spouses’ death or divorce if they were married)
- Proof of the couple meeting in person within the past two years preceding their petition for the visa. This requirement may be waived if:
- it violates strict and established customs, social practices, or foreign culture; or
- it would cause extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen applying for their fiancé’s visa
Essentially you will need to provide proof that the engagement is real and not fabricated in order for the foreign fiance to obtain entry to the U.S.
Fiance Visa Process
Once you have established your eligibility for a K1 visa, you can go ahead and start the process of applying. Here are the steps you will need to follow.
K1 Visa Step 1: Petition for Fiancé
You need to file a Form I-129F which is called a Petition for Alien Fiancé.
Attach the following documents to the completed Form I-129F:
- Proof of the sponsor fiancé’s citizenship
- A valid copy of the sponsored fiancé’s passport
- Proof of the relationship in the form of photos, correspondence, and sworn statements by colleagues or friends
- Proof of a personal meeting in the past two years
- Sworn statements that are signed by both fiancés detailing a brief description of the relationship, including the intent to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s entry into the U.S.
- A Form I-94 arrival-departure record that was previously issued to the sponsored fiancé
- One passport style photo of each fiancé
The processing fee for a K1 visa is $535. The processing time can take up to 9 months and even more. If the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) sends a Request for Evidence (RFE), you will need to supply more information. The USCIS will notify you once the petition is approved.
K1 Visa Step 2: Visa Application
The foreign fiancé will receive a notice from the U.S. embassy in their country of residency providing an interview date, interview location, and list of required documents. The foreign fiancé needs can then complete the online DS-160 form (which is the actual K1 visa application).
Print the confirmation page when the submission has been completed. The foreign fiancé will have an interview scheduled within the following 4 to 6 weeks.
You will need to submit the following in order for the application to proceed:
U.S. Citizen Fiancé
- An I-134 Form (affidavit of sponsorship for your fiancé)
- Tax return of the most recent tax year
- A copy of the approved I-129F filed with the USCIS
- Two passport-like photos
- Birth certificate
- A passport that is valid and unexpired
- Police clearance from every country of residence since the age of 16 (lived in for more than 6 months)
- A sealed medical exam from an approved physician authorized by the State Department
The visa interview will be at the closest U.S. consulate or embassy of the foreign fiancé’s residence. A fee of $265 needs to be paid for the interview. A notice will define the payment details and methods acceptable. The officer conducting the interview will decide the visa approval either on the day of or just after, the interview.
K1 Visa Step 3: Inspection at Port of Entry
Once a form I-129F is approved, the sponsored fiancé has 4 months to travel to the U.S. for the marriage. The Customs and Border Protection officer is the last person to decide whether the sponsored fiancé is allowed to enter. They must present their K1 visa at the port of entry.
K1 Visa Step 4: Marriage
The 90 day period of the K1 visa will start on the day of the sponsored fiancé’s entry to the U.S. During this time you can plan the last few details, exchange your vows and get married.
Please note that a K1 visa is only for the purpose of marrying the sponsor fiancé. The sponsored fiancé must leave the U.S. if at any time the engagement is broken off. They can’t marry another U.S. citizen.
K1 Visa Step 5: Adjustment of Status
After getting married, the next step is to get permanent residency through a marriage Green Card. Here are the steps you can follow to adjust your status.
- Application for adjustment of status – Apply for a Green Card through filing a Form I-485 filing (an adjustment of status).
- Application review – The USCIS will determine the outcome of the application. Supply any additional information they request.
- Interview – the USCIS typically requires an interview before adjustment of status.
- Green Card validity requirements – If you have been married for less than two years, the USCIS will only issue a Green Card for two years to the foreign spouse. He or she will need to file a Form I-751 to request the removal of the condition on their residency within 90 days of the expiry of their Green Card.
The adjustment of the status process needs payments of $1,140 for the filing fee and $85 for the biometric scanning process.
Fiancé Visa Timeline
There are multiple deadlines and grace periods in the process of getting a fiancé visa. You can, however, expect the visa process to take at least up to 7 months. It may even take longer. Once the marriage has been confirmed in the U.S. it may take another 6 months to get a marriage, Green Card. So, typically the whole process will take up to 13 months, but as with any immigration case, it may take longer.
You can build a future with the love of your life in America, even if they are a foreign resident. Follow the steps above to file your fiancé visa application (and your application for a Green Card too). Once your fiancé is with you in the U.S. all you will need to worry about is planning the wedding and saying the “I Do’s”.