K1 Visa Requirements Explained

Updated on April 8, 2024

If you’re a U.S. citizen engaged to a foreign national and planning to bring your fiancé(e) to the United States for marriage, the K1 nonimmigrant visa is the path to making your dreams a reality. However, navigating the K1 visa requirements can be complex and overwhelming. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down the essential requirements for both the U.S. citizen sponsor and the foreign fiancé(e) to help you understand the process and prepare your application.

30 Second Recap:

To bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States on a K1 visa, you must be a U.S. citizen, demonstrate your intent to marry within 90 days, meet income requirements, and be legally free to marry. Your fiancé(e) must be engaged to you, have met you in person within the past two years, be admissible to the U.S., and be free to marry. The application process involves filing Form I-129F, completing the DS-160, and attending a visa interview.

Requirements for the U.S. Citizen Sponsor

As the U.S. citizen sponsor, you must meet the following requirements to bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the United States on a K1 visa:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen: You must provide evidence of your U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization certificate.
  2. Intend to marry: You must demonstrate your genuine intention to marry your foreign fiancé(e) within 90 days of their admission to the United States.
  3. Meet the income requirement: You must have a minimum annual income equal to at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or have sufficient assets to support your foreign fiancé(e). If you don’t meet this requirement, you may find a joint sponsor who does.
  4. Be free to marry: You must be legally free to marry, meaning any previous marriages have been legally terminated through divorce, annulment, or death.

Requirements for the Foreign Fiancé(e)

Your foreign fiancé(e) must also meet specific requirements to be eligible for a K1 visa:

  1. Be engaged to a U.S. citizen: Your fiancé(e) must provide evidence of your engagement, such as photographs, correspondence, or affidavits from friends and family.
  2. Have met the U.S. citizen sponsor in person: You and your fiancé(e) must have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the K1 visa petition, unless meeting would violate strict and long-established customs of the foreign culture or social practice, or cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen sponsor.
  3. Be admissible to the United States: Your fiancé(e) must be admissible to the United States and not be inadmissible based on health, criminal, security, or other grounds. They will need to undergo a medical examination and provide police certificates from countries where they have lived for six months or more since age 16.
  4. Be free to marry: Your fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry, with any previous marriages legally terminated.

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The K1 Visa Application Process

To apply for a K1 visa, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with USCIS.
  2. Once approved, your case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) and then to the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest your fiancé(e)’s place of residence.
  3. Your fiancé(e) will complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) and attend a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  4. If the visa is approved, your fiancé(e) may enter the United States and you must marry within 90 days.

After marriage, your spouse may apply for adjustment of status to obtain permanent residence (green card).

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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