U.S. citizens can bring their future spouses to the country with a special nonimmigrant visa called a K-1 fiancé visa. Understanding the procedure and prerequisites is essential if you and your fiancé are thinking about applying for this type of visa. From ensuring your eligibility to the visa interview and beyond, this article will walk you through the process of applying for a K-1 fiancé visa.
Step 1. Make sure you qualify.
Verifying your and your fiancé’s eligibility for a K-1 fiancé visa is a necessary first step before beginning the application process. The prerequisites are as follows:
- At least one of you needs to be a citizen of the United States.
- The two of you have agreed to tie the knot no later than 90 days after your K-1 visa is approved and you enter the United States, and you have documentation showing this intent to marry within the 90 days.
- You and your fiance have both fulfilled the legal requirements for getting married in the United States, and neither of you is currently legally married to someone else.
- The K-1 visa category includes same-sex couples.
- There has been at least one in-person meeting between you and your prospective spouse in the two years prior to the application being filed. You may request a waiver from this in-person meeting requirement if doing so would be against your religious or cultural beliefs or would cause you undue hardship.
- Documentation starting from the beginning of your relationship and continuing through the engagement is required to prove the legitimacy of your relationship.
- The household income of your U.S. citizen fiance must be at or above the federal poverty guidelines. They need to submit an I-134 form if their income is below the minimum requirement.
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Step 2: Make an I-129F filing
The U.S. citizen fiance must petition the USCIS for his or her foreign fiance by submitting Form I-129F. This form requires supporting documentation for the criteria mentioned above and if approved will serve as evidence of the validity of your relationship. A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) cannot request a K-1 visa for their fiancé; only a U.S. citizen can file the Form I-129F.
Proof of your fiancé’s U.S. citizenship (such as a passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate), evidence of the legitimacy of your relationship (such as photographs, flight records, letters, text messages, and statements from family and friends), and, if applicable, evidence of the termination of any previous marriages (such as divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulments) must all be included with the Form I-129F. In addition, there is a $535 filing fee.
Form I-129F processing times can range from 4 months to 17 months, depending on the USCIS service center location. It’s crucial to keep an eye out for any Requests for Evidence (RFE) sent by USCIS during this time. You will be sent a notice of approval once USCIS has decided that your petition is valid.
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Submission of DS-160 Form
If your Form I-129F is accepted, your case will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) of the United States Department of State. The NVC will notify you of next steps approximately 30 days after USCIS approval. In addition to the time and place of your visa interview, the notice will also include instructions on what paperwork you’ll need to bring.
The Form DS-160, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is a crucial piece of paperwork that you must put together. This form inquires into your identity, history, and reason for visiting the United States. Please be as honest and precise as possible when filling out this form. Before beginning the application process, gather all the information and documentation you’ll need.
Your passport information, travel plans, work experience, and information about your U.S. fiancé will be needed to complete the Form DS-160. In addition, you’ll have to submit a recent photo that fits the criteria. After completing the form, double check your answers to make sure everything is accurate. A confirmation page with a barcode will be displayed after submission; please print this page and keep it for your records.
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Step 4: The Visa Interview
The next step in acquiring a K-1 visa is an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your country of residence. In order to determine your eligibility and the legitimacy of your relationship, the consular officer must conduct an interview with you. Being well-prepared for the interview will increase your chances of getting the K-1 visa to enter the United States.
Get together all the paperwork the NVC requested in their notice before your scheduled interview. Passport, birth certificate, police clearance certificate, medical exam results, proof of financial support, and proof of relationship with fiancé are all examples of documents that may be required. If your documents are not in English, you will need to bring both the originals and translations.
The consular officer will inquire about your future plans as a married couple and whether or not either of you intends to permanently reside in the United States. It’s important to feel secure in giving an honest response. In addition, have any other documentation that can vouch for the authenticity of your relationship ready to present as well. Photographs, letters, and other correspondence may be included.
Step 5: Get Your K-1 Visa
If your visa application is accepted by the consular officer, you will have a K-1 visa stamped into your passport. The visa’s validity period is typically six months beginning on the date it was issued. It’s important to remember that if you enter the United States on a K-1 visa, you can’t leave and reenter on the same visa. If you want to leave the country before your wedding, you’ll need to apply for a special travel document called an Advance Parole.
When you receive the paperwork for the K-1 visa, please read the requirements and instructions carefully. If you notice any inaccuracies, please get in touch with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate right away. You must double check your U.S. visa for accuracy and completeness before you travel to the country.
Step 6: Plan a Trip to the USA to Tie the Knot
After applying for and receiving a K-1 visa, you will be able to enter the United States. Within 90 days of entering the country on a K-1 visa, you and your U.S. citizen fiancé must get married or your visa will be revoked. Remember that getting married is the sole purpose of the K-1 visa, and that failing to do so within the allotted 90 days could lead to immigration issues.
If you’ve recently gotten married, you may be eligible to apply for a green card through the process of adjustment of status. You’ll need to provide additional proof of your marriage’s legal standing and fill out some additional paperwork to accomplish this. Consultation with an immigration attorney is highly recommended for a smooth adjustment of status process.
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Filing a K1 Fiance Visa
It is important to be diligent, thorough, and pay close attention to detail when applying for a K-1 fiancé visa. Do your homework, make sure you meet all the requirements, file your paperwork with USCIS and the Department of State, book your visa interview, and show up for it on time. If you want to change your status to a green card holder after getting married, you can file for adjustment of status in accordance with the rules. Seeking professional advice at various points along the way can aid in a successful and smooth transition to married life in the United States.
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