What is a K-1 visa?

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k1 fiance visaAlso known as the “fiancé visa,” the K-1 visa is for the foreign national fiancé of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States for the purpose of marriage to the U.S. citizen.

Although the K-1 visa is classified as a nonimmigrant visa it’s generally used for immigration purposes. In other words, the K-1 visa holder’s intent is typically to stay in the United States and adjust status to permanent resident (green card holder) so that he or she may live permanently in the U.S. with the spouse.

K-1 Fiancé Visa Eligibility

Compared to many other visas, it’s relatively easy to qualify for a K-1 visa. Generally, the U.S. citizen and foreign national fiancé must:

  • Be legally free to marry and intend to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s admission to the United States; and
  • Have met each other in person within the two years immediately before filing the petition, unless the U.S. citizen petitioner establishes that either:
    • The requirement to meet in person would violate strict and long-established customs of the foreign national’s culture or social practice, and that any and all aspects of the traditional arrangements have been or will be met in accordance with the custom or practice; or
    • The requirement to meet in person would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen; and
  • Meet the requirements set in the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005.
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K-1 Visa Application Process

A U.S. citizen can start the process by making a request to the U.S. government to allow his or her fiancé to enter the U.S. as a K-1 visa holder. The U.S. citizen does this by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When filing Form I-129F, there is a USCIS filing fee. The I-129F time line can vary – see K-1 visa processing time. Upon approval, the case is moved to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign national’s country of residence.

At this point the foreign national may apply for the K-1 fiancé visa through the embassy or consulate. The K-1 applicant should expect to go to an immigration medical exam and attend a K-1 visa interview. There are additional costs for the visa application and medical exam.

Upon approval the K-1 will have six months to use the visa. In other words, he or she must enter the United States within six months of the K-1 visa being granted. If the K-1 expires, it can be re-registered. Once in the United States, the K-1 visa holder and the U.S. citizen must marry within 90 days. Additionally, the K-1 should file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, soon after the marriage if he or she intends to live permanently in the United States.

Children of a K-1 Visa Holder

Eligible children of K-1 fiancé visa applicants, which include unmarried sons and daughters under the age of 21) receive K-2 visas. The children may apply for K-2 visas based on the parent’s Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. But the children must be on same the petition. Separate visa applications must be submitted for each K-2 visa applicant, and each applicant must pay the K visa application fee.

After the parent’s marriage, his or her children must file separate adjustment of status applications. They cannot be included on parent’s Form I-485. Additionally, to qualify for adjustment of status, the child must have been under the age of 18 when the parent and U.S. citizen marry.

Source: USCIS