What is the K-1 visa?

wedding marriage

Finding someone to share your life with is a common goal for many of us. However, achieving this dream can be difficult when couples find themselves in international relationships. When engaged to be married, it can be challenging to navigate the legal requirements for entering another country. Fortunately, U.S. citizens can petition for a K-1 visa for their fiancé, allowing a foreign citizen to enter the U.S. to get married as long as they do so within 90 days of arrival. It’s imperative to note that immigration authorities require evidence of a legitimate relationship to prevent marriage fraud. As such, the K-1 visa process can be complex. Therefore, if you are a U.S. citizen who wants to sponsor a foreign citizen fiancé, you should enlist the help of our experienced Essex County Family Immigration Attorneys, who can help guide you through each phase of this intricate process. 

What is the K-1 visa process like?

If you are a U.S. citizen who plans to marry a foreign national and wishes to bring them to the U.S. to get married, they will be required to petition for a K-1 visa. The petition must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. citizen must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, and meet all eligibility requirements. The following include the fiancé visa eligibility requirements:

  • The sponsoring fiancé must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Each partner must be unmarried.
  • The couple must prove that their relationship is legitimate.
  • The couple must satisfy the 2-year rule, meaning they must prove that they met in person at least once within two years of applying for the visa (However, there are exceptions to this rule if this requirement would violate the strict and long-established customs of a foreign culture or if it would result in extreme hardship to the petitioner).
  • The couple must submit a signed document that stipulates their intentions to get married within 90 days of the foreign fiancé arriving in the country.
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must meet the income requirements.

After the eligibility, forms, and supporting documents are filed with USCIS, they will hand off the case to the U.S. Department of State. Once approved, the petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center, and the fiancé must appear for Consular Processing. The foreign citizen will receive a notice from the U.S. embassy in their home country dictating they must complete Form DS-160. From here, they will undergo a visa interview. The immigration authorities will often decide a case either on the same day of the interview or shortly afterward. If all requirements are met, the K-1 visa is approved, and the sponsored fiancé is granted a total of six months from the date of approval of the initial Form I-129F to travel to the U.S. Once the marriage takes place, they can petition for an immigrant visa and adjust their status without having to leave the country.

If you plan on getting married to a foreign national, it’s in your best interest to contact a determined attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq., who can help you navigate this complex process.