A K-1 Visa is issued to the fiancé of a United States citizen so that they may enter the U.S. and marry the citizen within 90 days of arrival. The K-1 visa holder will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Just like with any other visa, an applicant must meet certain requirements to be granted a K-1 Visa.
Qualifications of the K-1 Fiancé Visa
To qualify for a K-1 Visa, proof must be provided that shows the couple has known each other for a minimum of two years. The only exception to this rule is for those whose religion or traditional heritage prohibits them from meeting their spouse prior to the marriage. After the faincé has arrived in the U.S., the couple must legally marry within 90 days. The couple must provide documentation to prove that one member of the couple is a U.S. citizen, both members are able to legally marry, both members are of legal age to marry; and that any previous marriages for either party have ended with a legal divorce, annulment, or death of a spouse.
To qualify as a U.S. citizen, the person must have been born in the U.S. or one of its territories (including military bases), or they were born in a foreign country with at least one parent being a U.S. citizen. The person also qualifies if their parents became U.S. citizens while they were minor, which would automatically make them U.S. citizens. Naturalization also qualifies an individual as a U.S. citizen. Legal permanent residents of the U.S. cannot qualify for the K-1 program as they are not U.S. citizens. Permanent residents are permitted to marry a foreign fiancé outside of the U.S. and then apply for a Green Card to bring them and their spouse back to the U.S.
Same-sex couples are required to meet the same requirements as any other couple when applying for the K-1 visa. Some states are not administratively equipped to facilitate same-sex marriages, so the couple must marry where same-sex marriage is legal. They must also live where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.
K-1 Visa Application Process And Timeline
To apply for a K-1 Visa, the U.S. citizen must begin the application process and act as U.S. sponsor for their fiancé. They will file the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with USCIS. It can take from 5 -7 months for this part of the process to be approved.
After the petition has been approved, a case number will be assigned and the petition is forwarded to U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the fiancé lives. An interview will be required. During this interview, proof of vaccinations will be needed and the Fiancé must prove that they will not become a public charge in the United States. This part of the process can take from 1-3 months. Documentation that will need to be provided during the interview includes Form DS-160, valid passport for travel, divorce or death certificate of any previous spouses, police certificates, medical examination, evidence of financial support, evidence of the relationship, and payment of fees.
If the petition is approved after the interview, the visa can be received within 2-10 days of approval. The fiancé will then apply for a single admission at a U.S. port-of-entry within the validity of the visa, which is 6 months from the date of insurance.
Benefits of Obtaining a K-1 Fiancé Visa
There are many benefits that are associated with the K-1 Visa. One that is often overlooked is that this visa can allow a 90 day “trial” of being together in which the couple can decide if they wish to move forward with the marriage or not. If things don’t work out, the couple is not required to marry. However, the fiancé must return to their home country. The wait time for the fiancé visa is usually shorter than the marriage visa, which entices many people to pursue this particular visa. There is also less documentation collection associated with this visa in comparison to the marriage visa.
One of the major benefits with the fiancé visa is once the couple is legally married, the K-1 visa holder is eligible to apply for permanent residency. Applying for permanent residency on a K-1 visa is generally quicker when compared to other visas. Once the K-1 visa holder receives their green card, they are entitled to all of the advantages and benefits associated with permanent residency. These benefits include the ability to work in the U.S., ability to apply for U.S. citizenship, the ability to sponsor relatives, to name a few. Consult with an immigration attorney for more information and for help in the Fiancé Visa application process.