What is a K-1 Visa?
The K-1 visa, known as the fiance (also spelled fiancé or fiancée) visa, is a special visa that grants the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen the privilege to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying their U.S. citizen fiancé(e), and later apply for permanent residence in the United States and get their green card. On the K-1 visa, you and your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must get married within the 90-day validity period. If the marriage does not happen within the 90-day validity period, or if the engagement is broken before the marriage, the foreign fiancé(e) will need to leave the United States.
Getting a K-1 visa is a complicated process. Schedule a strategy call with a fiancé(e) visa immigration attorney and avoid costly experimentation. If you fail to file your case properly or fail to complete the required steps, your case may be rejected, delayed sometimes by years, or worse, denied after a long wait period. To ensure that you receive your K-1 visa, you must meet specific eligibility requirements and you must follow the steps precisely. This ultimate guide will include everything you need to help navigate the K-1 visa journey including step-by-step processes, interview tips, and more.
To begin the process of obtaining a K-1 visa, your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must file a Form I-129F on your behalf. On this form, your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is the petitioner or sponsor (the person filing the petition) and you, as the person getting the K-1 visa, are the beneficiary (the person benefiting from the petition).
Who is Eligible for a K-1 Visa?
Much like the majority of immigration processes with visas, a K-1 visa has a set of strict eligibility requirements. These regulations are determined by the U.S. government and are enforced by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). Note that each situation is unique, and you may need to hire an immigration attorney to assist you with your immigration process. Here are the basic requirements you and your fiancé(e) must meet to be eligible for a K-1 visa:
1. The sponsoring fiancé(e) must be a U.S. citizen.
Green card holders are not eligible to sponsor for a K-1 visa.
2. Your foreign national fiancé(e) is not inadmissible.
If you are inadmissible, you are not permitted by law to enter or remain in the United States, even if otherwise you may qualify or the embassy may wish to approve your case. The factors that deem someone inadmissible is dependent on the nature of the offense including (but not limited to) you having a communicable disease, any past visa denial or overstays as well as criminal offenses. Inadmissibility is a complex area of law that is beyond the scope of this article.
3. You and your fiancé(e) must be legally able to marry.
Divorce papers, death certificates, and other relevant documents affirming the termination of previous marriages should have been finalized.
4. You must be able to prove the legitimacy of your relationship.
Proving the legitimacy of your relationship is maybe the most complex area of a fiancé(e) visa case and the evidence will need to be fine-combed rigorously to avoid denials. Some evidence that may be helpful are things like emails, photos, itineraries, and written testimonials from friends and family must be compiled for evidence. Traveling arrangements and tickets of combined trips can also be indicators of a legitimate relationship.
5. You and your fiancé(e) must prove your intent to marry within 90 days of your entry.
Intent to marry must be proved for your case to succeed. Written confirmation of wedding plans, invites, supplier deposits, and travel arrangements for the wedding may be helpful.
6. You and your fiancé(e) must prove at least one personal meeting in the two years leading up to your visa application.
This requirement may be waived if you could not meet it due to extreme hardship as a result of financial difficulties, medical issues, political conditions, or religious or cultural norms. If you rely on this exception, prepare to provide evidence proving the basis of the extreme hardship. To prove you are complying with customs, you may use letters from religious officials and testaments from family members and friends as evidence.
7. The foreign fiancé(e) must prove that the adjusted gross income on their most recent tax return is at least equal to 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
If this is not doable, someone in the U.S. (usually the U.S. citizen fiancé) must sign an affidavit of support claiming to be a joint financial sponsor of the foreign fiancé(e).
8. K-1 visas are available to same-sex partners.
This is true even if the foreign fiancé(e)’s country of birth does not acknowledge same-sex marriages.
What are the Benefits of a K-1 Visa?
You do not need to fill out Form I-130.
Normally, to get a marriage-based green card, your spouse is required to file Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) on your behalf. However, with a K-1 visa, you can avoid this process altogether and directly apply to adjust your status (Form I-485) following your entry to the U.S. and your successful marriage to your U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
You become eligible to adjust your status in the United States.
As long as you and your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) get married to each other within the 90-day validity period of the K-1 visa, you are able to apply for an adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and receive your green card. The entire adjustment of status process is done within the United States.
You are able to apply for work authorization.
By filling out Form 1-765 (“Application for Employment Authorization”), you are allowed to apply for work authorization immediately upon entering the U.S. on your K-1 visa. If you apply for work authorization before getting married, then the work authorization will expire 90 days after you enter the United States. Additionally, you also may be eligible to apply for work authorization when you apply for your adjustment of status after getting married to your U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
Your children can receive immigration benefits.
If your child is a dependent minor (unmarried and under the age of 21), they may qualify for a K-2 visa to join you in the United States. Once you marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e), your children on their K-2 visas may also apply for an adjustment of status to get their green card.
Is the K-1 Visa right for me?
Depending on your situation such as where you live, how long you can wait to be together, and other varying circumstances, it may make sense to skip the K-1 visa process, get married, and apply for a marriage-based green card. If you are unsure on which path to choose, here are some factors for an engaged couple deciding between the K-1 visa and the marriage-based green card:
Generally, getting a K-1 fiancé(e) visa will make more sense if…
- You want to be together in the U.S. as soon as possible. Typically, you will need to wait 7-12 months for a fiancé(e), and 12-24 months for a spouse.
- You wish to have your wedding in the United States.
- You are unable to get married abroad. An example of this is a same-sex couple where one fiancé(e) lives in a country that forbids same-sex marriage.
Going through a marriage-based green card process will make more sense if…
- You are concerned about overall costs. In fees, it is generally less costly to bring in a spouse (about $1,200) as opposed to a fiancé(e) (about $2,000).
- You plan to have your wedding outside of the United States.
- You want the partner seeking a green card to become a permanent resident immediately after arriving in the United States.
- You do not mind waiting longer for your fiancé(e) to join you in the United States. Typically, you will need to wait 10-13 months rather than 7 months.
- Work authorization upon entry. You want your spouse to get the work authorization upon entry to the US, not several months after.
Both the K-1 visa and the marriage-based green card processes will ultimately conclude in a marriage which gives the nexus for permanent residence. In both situations, if you have been married for less than two years when the green card is approved, you will need to remove the conditions on your residence and get a permanent green card.
Fiance(e) K-1 Visa Forms and Costs
There are multiple forms required throughout the K-1 visa process. Regardless of any action USCIS takes on the petition, filing fees are not refundable. Below is a brief overview of some of the forms including their filing fees and other associated costs (make sure to check these fees before filing your case as they are subject to change):
Form I-129F (“Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)”)
This is the initial form that is filed by the sponsoring fiancé(e) with USCIS. The primary purpose of Form I-129F is to prove the validity of the relationship and that the K-1 visa requirements are met. $535.00
Form DS-160 (“Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application”)
To apply for a K-1 visa, the foreign beneficiary must complete Form DS-160 and submit it online after Form I-129F is approved. $265.00
Form I-765 (“Application for Employment Authorization”)
This form can be filed at 2 separate times during the K-1 visa process. The beneficiary may file Form I-765 upon their arrival to the U.S. to get work authorization prior to marrying their U.S. citizen fiancé(e). They may also file this form during their adjustment of status stage, though it may not be required if it is filed concurrently with Form I-485. $410.00
Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”)
This form is to be filed after the legal marriage takes place, and will allow the foreign spouse to receive their green card and become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. $1,225.00
Form I-693 (“Immigration Medical Exam”) and Medical Examination Fee
Once Form I-129F is approved, the beneficiary is required to undergo a medical exam with a state-authorized physician and submit a Form I-693. There is no filing fee for Form I-693. The medical examination costs will vary depending on the provider, but $200.00 is typical (not including vaccinations you may need to be administered).
Form I-134 (“Declaration of Financial Support”)
If applicable. If the foreign fiancé(e) is unable to prove their financial means, someone in the U.S. (usually the U.S. citizen fiancé) must file Form I-134 as an affidavit of support to be a joint financial sponsor. There is no application fee for Form I-134.
Including translation and photocopying charges for required documents and travel costs to the United States. Costs will vary depending on your situation.
Documents Required for a K-1 Visa
Again, note that each situation is unique. Your case may require additional documents depending on your situation and the evidence you have available. Here is a general list of the basic documents required for every K-1 visa application:
- Form I-129F – The petition for an Alien Fiancé(e).
- Form DS-160 – The Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. You and all of your minor dependents must complete Form DS-160, with each person having an individual form. Print the confirmation page and keep it for proof at your visa interview.
- Valid passports – From the foreign fiancé(e)’s country of residence and from the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) to show evidence of U.S. citizenship. Note that you will NOT be able to enter the US embassy without a valid passport.
- Evidence of your relationship – Physical proof of your relationship such as emails, photos, itineraries, phone call logs, texts, written testimonials from friends and family, traveling arrangements, and tickets proving combined trips. With printed photos, write the date and exact location on the back.
- A signed statement – From the K-1 visa beneficiary and the U.S. citizen petitioner expressing intent to marry the other within 90 days of the K-1 visa beneficiary’s entry to the United States.
- Evidence of financial support – Form I-134, which is an affidavit of support (if applicable).
- Copies of divorce or death certificates – To prove the legal termination of past marriages (if applicable).
- Three photographs – One passport-style photo of each fiancé(e) and two passport-style photos of the sponsored fiancé(e).
- Police certificates – A clearance from each country where the foreign fiancé(e) has lived for more than 6 months from the age of 16.
- Medical examination – From a panel physician approved by the visa issuing U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
- Evidence of legal name change – Copies of the legal documents reflecting a legal name change for either fiancé(e), if applicable.
- Payment receipts – To prove that the processing fees have been settled.
If you are submitting documents written in a foreign language, you should include a certified English translation for each document. Consult an immigration attorney if you are unsure about what to submit for your specific visa application.
How to Apply for a K-1 Visa
Obtaining a K-1 fiancé(e) visa is a specific multi-step process. If you fail to properly file your case or fail to complete these steps, however, your case may be delayed or even dismissed. Here is a quick outline of the process:
Step 1. U.S. Citizen Sponsor Files Form 1-129F
Step 2. Beneficiary Files Form DS-160
Step 3. Medical Exam
Step 4. K-1 Visa Interview
Step 5. Enter the U.S. on K-1 Visa (Inspection at Port of Entry)
Step 6. Marriage
Step 7. Adjustment of Status
Step 8. Adjustment of Status Interview
Step 1. Form I-129F
The sponsoring fiancé(e) will need to file Form I-129F (“Petition for an Alien Fiancé(e)”) on behalf of the beneficiary at a USCIS office in the United States. For Form I-129F, the sponsoring fiancé(e) will need to bring everything listed under Documents Required for a K-1 Visa, especially:
- Their proof of U.S. citizenship
- A passport-style photo
- The filing fee. The government filing fee for Form I-129F is $535, which can be paid in credit card, check, or money order. USCIS does not accept cash.
- If you are filing at a USCIS lockbox facility, you can pay by credit card using Form G-1450 (“Authorization for Credit Card Transactions”).
- If you are paying by check, make the check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
After submitting your application, USCIS will let you know they have received the submitted form within approximately 30 days. This means USCIS will begin processing your case within 30 days. Note that every USCIS service center has different processing times, though it will typically take them 6-9 months to process your petition.
Make sure to keep notifications you receive from USCIS for future reference. If they require more information, they may send a Request for Evidence (RFE). Provide the requested information as soon as possible to minimize the processing time on your case. Once your form is approved, USCIS will send an approval notice to the mailing address(es) you indicate on the form.
Step 2. Form DS-160
Once USCIS approves your Form I-129F petition, the case will be transferred to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). Within about 30 days of the approval, the NVC is supposed to notify the beneficiary through the U.S. embassy in their home country regarding a time and date for their required visa interview. After receiving this notice, the beneficiary will need to complete an Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160).
Filing Form DS-160 will cost you $265.00. This fee is usually paid at the interview, but it is important to review specific instructions about time and place of payment in the interview notice (these instructions can vary by home country). At the interview, the beneficiary will also need to bring a printed confirmation of their Form DS-160 submission, as well as a copy of the information the sponsoring fiancé(e) used to file Form I-129F. Here is a general idea of what you will need to bring with you to the interview:
Sponsored Fiancé(e) Documents
- Copy of birth certificate
- Valid passport
- Two passport-style photos
- Police clearances for all countries of residence of more than 6 months since the age of 16
- Sealed medical exam (after completing a medical exam with a state-authorized physician)
U.S. Citizen Fiancé(e) Documents
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-134), if applicable
- Most recent tax returns
- Proof of relationship (a copy of the approved I-129F originally filed with USCIS)
Either on the same day of the interview or the day after, the officer presiding over your case will decide if your application is successful. Make sure you have all of the required proof and supporting documents and prepare for the interview by studying some of the K-1 visa interview questions listed under the next step, the K-1 Visa Interview.
Step 3. Medical Exam
After receiving a notice from the NVC, the K-1 visa beneficiary will receive a notice about the K-1 Visa Interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their country of residence (usually about 4-6 weeks after the NVC’s initial notice). NVC will also require you to undergo a medical exam and file a Form I-693 (“Immigrant Medical Exam”). At the medical exam, the panel-approved physician will be looking to see if you have any communicable diseases and whether or not you have the required vaccinations. They will also take a blood and urine sample to send off for lab testing.
Schedule this exam immediately, as the exam and all associated laboratory tests must be completed before your immigration interview date.
Step 4. K-1 Visa Interview
At the interview, the beneficiary must bring all required forms and documents and be prepared to answer various questions about themselves, their U.S. citizen fiancé(e), and their relationship with their U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Typically, the interviewing officer will make a decision on the case either on the same day of the interview or shortly after. They may also request for additional evidence to be submitted directly to the U.S. consulate.
Listed below are some examples of interview questions. Keep in mind that these are examples of potential questions; you could be asked questions that are not on this list. Schedule a strategy call with a seasoned fiancé(e) visa immigration attorney for expert representation.
Questions About You
- What is your full name?
- When is your birthday?
- Where were you born?
- How old are you?
- What is your nationality?
- What languages do you speak?
- Do you have any children?
- Were you previously married? If so, when?
- If you were married before, is that marriage now terminated?
- Have you been to the United States before? If so, when, why, and how?
- Do you have family in the United States? If so, where?
- Have you ever been arrested? If so, for what?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
- When do you plan on entering the U.S.?
- Do you currently work?
Questions About Your Fiancé(e), the U.S. Citizen Petitioner
- What is your fiancé(e)’s full name?
- When is your fiancé(e)’s birthday?
- How old is your fiancé(e)?
- Where was your fiancé(e) born?
- Where does your fiancé(e) live?
- What does your fiancé do for work?
- What are your fiancé(e)’s hobbies or interests?
- Has your fiancé(e) been married before? If so, when and why did they divorce?
- Does your fiancé(e) have children? If so, how many?
- Did your fiancé(e) go to college? If so, where?
Questions About Your Relationship
- When and where did you meet your fiancé(e)?
- How long have you known your fiancé(e)?
- How many times have you and your fiancé(e) met in person, and where?
- When did you and your fiancé(e) get engaged?
- What activities do you enjoy doing together?
- Have you visited your fiancé(e) in the U.S.?
- Has your fiancé(e) ever visited you in your country?
- Did you have an engagement party?
- When and how did your fiancé(e) propose to you?
- Have you already planned your wedding?
- How often do you speak to your fiancé(e)?
Step 5. Entering the U.S. on K-1 Visa
After the visa is approved, the foreign fiancé(e) will generally have a period of 4-6 months to enter the United States. They will receive a passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet of documents to present at the port of entry. Do not open the packet. The 90-day validity period of the K-1 visa begins as soon as the foreign fiancé(e) arrives in the United States. If the couple does not marry within 90 days, the K-1 visa holder must leave the U.S. right away. Holding a wedding in 90 days can be difficult, so start planning early. Plan and establish a date before entering the U.S. so that family members can obtain visas to attend.
Keep in mind that the sole purpose of the K-1 visa is for the sponsored fiancé(e) to join the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) to get married within 90 days. The K-1 visa cannot be used to marry anyone other than the U.S. citizen who sponsored you. Additionally, the K-1 does not allow for a transfer of status to a non-immigrant visa. The marriage must happen in order for the foreign spouse to begin adjustment of status.
Port of Entry (POE)
At the POE, you will be inspected and questioned by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regarding the purpose of your entry. Generally speaking, an inspection process should only take a few minutes. During the inspection, a CBP officer will need to decide the following:
- Why you are entering the U.S.
- What documents are needed
- If you have the required documents
- How long you are permitted to stay in the U.S.
When you are admitted, the CBP officer will stamp your passport and customs declaration form. You will then be issued a completed Form I-94, which shows your immigration classification and how long you are permitted to stay in the United States.
Denying Entry at the POE
Having a K-1 visa is not a guarantee of entry. As a foreign national, there are many reasons why you could be denied entry. For example, there was a case of a U.S. citizen petitioner who died on the flight when he was accompanying his foreign national fiancée who was on a fiancé(e) visa. She was not allowed entry because the US citizen could not marry her anymore. Ultimately, a CBP officer will make that determination during your inspection and questioning. If you are denied entry, you will either be placed in detention or temporarily held until a return flight is arranged. In other cases, a CBP officer might not be able to decide if you should be admitted, and your inspection may be postponed. If this happens, you will be placed in another office near your destination in the U.S. for further processing.
Step 6. Marriage
After being admitted into the U.S. with a K-1 visa, you are required to marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days. If you do not marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e), the terms of your visa will be broken and may be subjected to deportation or removal proceedings. This will be held against you if you apply for any type of visa in the future.
Remember: to make the most out of the 90-day validity period, contact our fiancé(e) visa immigration lawyers early to be able to set your case for success.
Step 7. Adjustment of Status
Applying for an adjustment of status is the process of obtaining a green card, which will change your status from non-immigrant status to permanent residence status. This process is handled entirely in the United States and can only be done after your successful marriage. It is highly recommended that you file the required Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) with USCIS before your K-1 visa expires. Here are the eligibility requirements for doing an adjustment of status:
Requirements for Adjustment of Status
- You are physically present in the U.S. when the Form I-485 is filed
- You must have entered the U.S. legally
- You cannot be inadmissible to the U.S. based on criminal convictions, health-related issues, etc.
Step 8. Adjustment of Status Interview
Months after applying for your adjustment of status (Form I-485), you and your spouse will likely be required to partake in an adjustment of status interview at a USCIS office. Bring all required items indicated in the appointment notice.
At this interview, a USCIS officer in charge of your case will ask various questions to confirm that your marriage is indeed bona fide and is not just used for immigration benefits. Like the K-1 visa interview, as long as you are truthful and have a genuine relationship, these questions and answers will be simple. Here are some general sample questions to practice with:
Questions About Your Relationship History
- How did you meet?
- How long did you date before deciding to get married?
- What is the story of your marriage proposal?
Questions About Your Daily Routines
- What is daily life like for you and your spouse?
- Which one of you does the cooking? Cleaning?
- How often do you talk on the phone when you’re apart?
Questions About Your Wedding
- What was your wedding like?
- Who was at your wedding?
- What did you do for your honeymoon?
Questions About Your Rituals
- When is your spouse’s birthday?
- What did you do to celebrate?
- What did you get each other as gifts?
Questions About Your Kids, If Any
- What are your kids’ favorite foods?
- How do your kids get to school?
- Do your kids play any sports? If so, which sports?
Generally speaking, this interview is the final step. Prepare thoroughly before you attend.
Bringing an Interpreter
A language barrier will cause issues in communication and could make it seem as if you are being dishonest or hiding information, which can lead to a denial. If you do not speak English reasonably well, consider bringing in an interpreter. Avoid using a friend or family member and employ a “disinterested” third-party translator. The USCIS officer may dismiss an interpreter if they feel that the interpreter is biased, or is not competent or needed to translate.
K-1 Visa Tracking and Processing Time
Once your case has begun, you can track the status of your application through USCIS’s website by using your receipt number. USCIS will take about 30 days to notify you of the acceptance of your initial Form I-129F. After this, it may take up to 6-9 months before they process your application (not including extra time added if USCIS issues a Request for Evidence). The foreign fiancé(e) can start the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application process only after this period. From application acceptance to the interview request, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application process can take anywhere from about 4 to 6 weeks. Obtaining the actual passport containing the K-1 visa may potentially take a few weeks.
Note that these processing times are based on an average case without any issues. It can take anywhere from 10 months to over a year for you to get a K-1 visa. If there are issues with your case, it can go into exception processing and it could last sometimes 2-3 years and ultimately result in a denial.
K-1 Visa Timeline
The time it will take for your K-1 visa to process is dependent on many factors, including current USCIS processing times, how busy the consulate or embassy is, and COVID-19. To check the current USCIS processing times, refer to the USCIS case process time resource. The average processing time for the K-1 visa is 15 months.
- Form I-129F Approval ≈ 7-10 months
- NVC and Form DS-160 Approval ≈ 3-5 months
- K-1 Visa Interview ≈ 1-7 months (varies highly based on the embassy)
- Receiving Approved K-1 Visa Following K-1 Interview ≈ 2 weeks
Reasons for Denying K-1 Visa
Sincere intentions aside, the best way to avoid being denied a K-1 visa is to plan and remain diligent throughout the entire application process. Generally speaking, K-1 visa applications can be denied for one of four reasons:
- An eligibility requirement was not met for a K-1 visa
- A form was either incorrectly filed or incomplete and never corrected
- There is a lack of evidence to support the claim of a relationship
- There are things that make you inadmissible that may relate to prior applications, arrests, background check issues, etc.
Relationship Suspicion on Fiancé(e) Visa
When the consular immigration officer suspects something is off about the relationship, it becomes difficult to overcome that doubt. Their bottom line is that they want to verify that the relationship is indeed genuine. Factors that play a role in relationship suspicion include:
- Lack of relationship evidence submitted with the K-1 petition and the interview
- Inability to speak each other’s languages proficiently
- No common background
- A short courting period before the K-1 petition was filed
- Interview failures, such as the inability to answer questions about the U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
- One fiancé(e) being substantially older (10-15 years) than the other
- Questionable social media posts or publicly accessible information that question the integrity of the relationship
- Lack of communication between the couple after submitting the K-1 petition, which can be interpreted as a lack of commitment
- The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) failing to meet their fiancé(e) after submitting the K-1, which can be interpreted as a lack of commitment
- An initial meeting being arranged by a third party
- The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) has previously filed a K-1 or marriage petition
- The foreign fiancé(e) having a questionable visa past or background
Sometimes, the officer may assume they know about the sincerity of a fiancé(e)’s intentions. In these unfortunate cases, the following relationship suspicion scenarios can also happen:
- They want to “protect” the foreign fiancé(e) from the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) who has a criminal background or is a serial fiancé(e) visa petitioner
- They want to protect the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) from a perceived “gold digger” or green card scammer
- They suspect that the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is doing a favor or is receiving money to bring the foreign fiancé(e) to the country if the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is a friend of the foreign fiancé(e)’s family
Preventing a Denial
Hiring an Immigration Attorney
This is likely your very first application. As such, if you attempt filing it yourself, it is an experiment. We believe it is fine to experiment with new cuisines or articles of clothing, but there are some things in life which you do once, and do them right. In the end, having an immigration lawyer is your best option for preventing delays as they will make sure all forms are filed correctly and in a timely manner. The money you may spend on an attorney, you will get back when your fiancé(e) is in the U.S. in time and can start working right away. A fiancé(e) immigration attorney will also help you understand the convoluted immigration process, protect your rights, add credibility to your claims, and assist with any appeals. Schedule a Phone Consultation with our attorneys here.
As long as the relationship is bona fide and the couple communicates and knows a lot about each other, there are sure to be indicators of a real relationship. The more evidence of the relationship that is compiled and submitted, the better.
Preparing for the K-1 Interview
The interview is critical and nerve-wracking, so consider practicing with a mock interview in advance and going over potential questions. Be familiar with the documents submitted. Not being able to answer questions about your relationship or your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) will reflect poorly on you.
Commitment to Your Fiancé(e)
Understandably, the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) may not be able to take off time or afford to visit their foreign fiancé(e) after submitting the K-1 visa petition or to attend the visa interview (which is not required of them). However, a display of support shows a strong commitment that can attest to the relationship’s authenticity. If the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) can visit their foreign fiancé(e) and attend their visa interview, they are able to show support for their fiancé(e) and leave a promising impression on the consul.
Review Previous Visa Applications
It is extremely important to thoroughly analyze the purpose and background of the foreign fiancé(e)’s stay if they have obtained a U.S. visa before.
Appealing a Denial
At this point, you may want to consider working with an immigration attorney to file this appeal. Start the appealing process by first determining where in the process your application was denied.
During USCIS Processing
If USCIS denied your application, you have a right to appeal within 30 days. To appeal, the U.S. citizen petitioner will have to file Form I-290B (“Notice of Appeal or Motion”) and pay a filing fee of $675.00.
Another option is to cancel your I-129F by filing a letter of withdrawal with USCIS. There is no official withdrawal form, you will only need to know the USCIS office that is currently handling your application. Enclose a copy of your receipt notice (if received from USCIS) and include a reason for the withdrawal. USCIS is unconcerned with the reason as long as no fraud is involved. By canceling your application, you are able to file a new one without the errors from the first application.
During NVC Processing
If the NVC denied your application, you have the right to ask for a Consulate General to review the denial. This option is only available until your application is returned to USCIS, so you must ask for a review quickly. Check your local embassy’s website for the Consulate General’s specific procedures.
If your application is already returned to USCIS, you can ask USCIS to reaffirm its early decision and send your application back to your local embassy for processing. However, this process takes a long time. You may find it best to withdraw your application altogether and refile.
You can only apply for a K-1 visa twice before having to request a waiver, and you may only apply for a second K-1 visa after waiting two years after being denied the first. If all options are stressed, not all hope is lost: a final resort might be to marry outside of the U.S., then apply for the foreign spouse’s immigration through a IR-1/CR-1 visa (“Immigrant Visa for a Spouse of a U.S. Citizen”).
What is the Fiancé(e) Visa International Marriage Brokerage Regulation Act (IMBRA)?
IMBRA is a law intended to protect foreign fiancé(e)s and marriage-based green card applicants, especially women and children, from abuse by the U.S. sponsor. The U.S. government is required to provide information about the visa applicant’s legal rights, the criminal background of the U.S. citizen partner, and how to get help if a relationship becomes abusive. One known provision is the USCIS pamphlet, “Information on the Legal Rights Available to immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in the United States and Facts about Immigrants on a Marriage-Based Visa”.
The Key Provisions of IMBRA
- Requiring background checks. All U.S. visa sponsors are required to get a background check and their criminal record must be disclosed to the visa applicant, regardless of the sponsor’s preferences.
- Providing marriage broker disclosure. The U.S. visa sponsor is required to disclose to USCIS if the couple met through a marriage broker. If the broker does not meet IMBRA standards, it may affect approval.
- Preventing serial petitioners. As indicated by IMBRA, an individual U.S. petitioner can only apply for two K-1 visas without having to request a waiver.
- Ruling out abusive petitioners. If the U.S. visa sponsor has a record of certain violent or sexual crimes, they are automatically disqualified from petitioning. A waiver, although frequently denied, can be filed to make an exception.
What is a Fiancé(e) Visa Marriage Broker?
A marriage broker is a for-profit service that operates to introduce U.S. citizens to foreign nationals for the sole purpose of marriage. As of 2010, there are over 400 international marriage brokers (IMBs) operating in the United States. Many IMB sites don’t comply with IMBRA, which can call for a RFE (Request for Evidence) later in the application process.
What If I Met My Fiancé(e) Online?
If you met online, we highly encourage working with a fiancé(e) immigration attorney to you can avoid a RFE. Some things of help: You may submit a copy of a signed form through the IMB obtained by the foreign fiancé(e) permitting the release of their personal contact information to you. Or, if applicable, you must submit documentation to confirm that the website or application is not an IMB. You must also indicate the city and state in the U.S. you will get married.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do you have to be engaged to apply for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa?
A. No, you do not have to be engaged to apply for a K-1 visa. However, it will be much harder to prove that your relationship is legitimate if you are not engaged before you apply.
Q. Can I extend the K-1 Visa beyond the original four-month validity?
A. Yes, if the petition expires before visa processing is completed. Provided that the consular officer determines that the sponsor and beneficiary are legally free to marry and continue to intend to marry each other within the 90-day validity period, a K-1 visa petition can be revalidated any number of times for an additional period of 4 months. To revalidate your petition, send a written request to the embassy that includes a statement of your intention to proceed with the marriage.
Q. Do I need a Form I-864 (“Affidavit of Support”) for the K-1 visa?
A. No. As long as you are able to prove the required financial means, you do not need to file Form I-864 for the K-1 visa. You will, however, need to include Form I-864 when applying to adjust your status to permanent resident after marriage.
Q. What is the difference between the K-1 visa and the K-3 visa?
A. The K-1 visa is reserved for the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, while the K-3 visa is reserved for the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
Q. Can the foreign fiancé(e) work in another country while in process of K-1 visa? If so, for how long?
A. Yes, the foreign fiancé(e) may work in their country of residence for as long as they wish until they are called for their K-1 visa interview.
Q. How does IMBRA affect my case?
A. It depends. If you both met through a marriage broker, you will need to review your situation before proceeding with the application process.
Q. How much money do I need to invite my fiancé(e) to the U.S.?
A. You must meet either the HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support income requirements or the asset requirements.
Q. Fiancé(e) Visa Children. Should I include all of my foreign fiancé(e)’s children in the visa petition?
A. Yes, all children of a K-1 visa beneficiary must be listed on the visa petition. If the beneficiary has a child not indicated in the petition, the petition will be returned to USCIS for reconsideration.
Q. What if my fiancé(e) is pregnant and this is not disclosed on the approved fiancé(e) visa petition?
A. As long as the consular officer receives a statement indicating an acknowledgment of the pregnancy and the desire to proceed with the marriage, the visa processing can continue.
Q. Do children receiving K-2 visas have to travel to the U.S. at the same time as the K-1 beneficiary?
A. No, they do not have to travel with the K-1 beneficiary. Eligible dependent children can travel to the U.S. on a K-2 visa within a year of the K-1 visa being issued to the beneficiary. If the dependent children seek to enter the U.S. after one year of the K-1 visa being issued to the beneficiary, an immigrant visa petition must be filed for each child.
Q. If I decide not to get married to my fiancé(e), can I cancel the petition?
A. Yes, you will need to make a written request to the embassy asking to withdraw the petition. You might also consider notarizing the withdrawal so USCIS can be certain that you personally are asking the petition to be canceled.
Q. What is Administrative Processing?
A. After your K-1 visa interview, the U.S. embassy or consulate might delay in making a final decision on your case. In such situations, your application will enter Administrative Processing. It is not a denial of your application, but that the embassy or consulate needs more time to consider your case. Sometimes you will be asked to submit additional items, or you will be asked for clarification on an answer from your application or interview. You may even be called in for a second interview. Unfortunately, the time it takes for the Administrative Process to complete varies anywhere from 30 days to sometimes 2 years, and sometimes even longer. If you have waited over 90 days, it is time to contact a fiancé(e) immigration attorney. You may need to sue the government in federal court.
Q. If my foreign fiancé(e) entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa but had to leave before we got married, how can my fiancé(e) get a new K-1 visa?
A. K-1 visas are only valid for a single entry. However, the consular officer can issue a new K-1 visa provided that the period of validity does not exceed the 90th day after the date of the initial admission on the original K-1 visa and provided that the sponsor and beneficiary are legally free to marry and continue to intend to marry each other. Unless an arrangement was made with USCIS prior to your fiancé(e)’s departure, you will need to start the K-1 visa process again after the 90th day.
Q. How long after we are married can the foreign fiancé(e) leave and return to the U.S.?
A. After marriage, you must apply for adjustment of status (green card) and for Form I-131 (“Application for Travel Document”). It takes approximately 90 days to receive a permit after filing. The foreign fiancé(e) must have the permit before leaving for foreign travel and must present the permit to re-enter the United States. If they do not have the permit, they may be denied entry and the adjustment of status petition will be reconsidered.
Q. If a K-1 visa is granted, can the foreign fiancé(e) travel to the U.S. on a vacation visa first and then travel on the K-1 visa at a later time?
A. Yes, the foreign fiancé(e) is allowed to have more than one visa. However, they can only hold one status while in the United States.