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K1 vs K2 Visa

The K1 visa allows non-U.S. foreign citizens who are engaged to be married to a United States citizen to come to the United States to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiance(e) within 90 days of arrival to the United States. K2 visas allow certain eligible children of K1 visa applicants to also come to the United States with the K1 visa holder. The K1 and K2 visas are not permanent. K1 and K2 visa holders must apply for adjustment of status with the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after arriving in the United States in order to become a permanent U.S. resident.

How are the K1 and the K2 visas different?

  • K1 visa

    The K1 visa is the nonimmigrant visa available for foreign citizens who are engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen. The K1 visa permits the visa holder to immigrate to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States. The foreign citizen fiance(e) must meet certain requirements in order to be granted a K1 visa.

  • K2 visa

    The K2 visa is the nonimmigrant visa available for the children of a foreign citizen who is engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen.

How to qualify for the K1 &K2 visa

  • K1 visa

    To qualify for the K1 visa, an applicant and his or her U.S. citizen fiance(e) must meet several criteria:

    • The applicant is the fiance(e) of a United States citizen;
    • The applicant and the U.S. citizen intend to marry each other within 90 days of the foreign citizen fiance(e)’s admission to the United States;
    • The applicant and the U.S. citizen are both legally able to marry in the United States and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, and annulment;
    • The applicant and the U.S. citizen met each other in person at least once within the 2-year period before the applicant files his or her petition.
    • The applicant and the U.S. citizen may have the in-person meeting requirement waived if:
      • Meeting in person would violate strict and long-established customs of the foreign citizen’s culture or social practice; or
      • Meeting in person would result in extreme hardship to the applicant or the U.S. citizen.
  • K2 visa

    To qualify for the K2 visa, an applicant must be a child under the age of 21 to a K1 visa applicant. Thus, a K2 visa holder must continue to be unmarried and under the age of 21 in order to be admitted to the United States and throughout their stay in the United States as K2 nonimmigrants.

What is the process for obtaining a K1 & K2 visa?

  • K1 visa process

    The process for receiving a K1 visa requires an applicant and his or her U.S. citizen fiance(e) to go through various background and security checks through national security databases, for criminal history about the applicant and the U.S. citizen, as well as other information.

    Step One: Filling out the Form I-129F with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

    The first step to receive a K1 visa is for the U.S. citizen fiance(e) to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien fiance(e)(e). By filing this form, the U.S. citizen is asking the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to recognize the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the applicant.

    The USCIS will then review the submitted Form I-129F and may request additional information or documentation.

    If the USCIS establishes the applicant’s eligibility for the K1 visa, the Form I-129F is approved and then sent to the United States Department of State National Visa Center. The approved Form I-129F is valid for four months from the date of approval by the USCIS. A consular officer may extend the validity of the Form I-129F if it expires before processing is complete.

    If the USCIS denies the applicant’s Form I-129F, the applicant will be notified of the reasons why it was denied. Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible, including drug trafficking, overstaying a previous visa, or submitting fraudulent documents. Some ineligibilities may be waived, while others may not.

    After the Form I-129F is approved, the K1 visa applicant must complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application by filling out Form DS-160. While completing the Form DS-160, the K1 visa applicant must upload a photo that meets certain photograph requirements.

    Step Two: Visa Application and Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

    After the National Visa Center receives the K1 visa applicant’s approved Form I-129F, the form will be forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or consulate nearest to the K1 visa applicant. The U.S. Embassy or consulate will then notify the applicant of the day and time of the applicant’s visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or consulate.

    Interview at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

    The K1 visa applicant must attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to them. At the interview, the applicant needs to establish that they meet the qualifications for the K1 visa. The K1 visa applicant must bring certain items with them to the interview as required by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that hosts the interview. These items and documents help the United States Department of State verify the applicant’s qualifications for the K1 visa and the legitimacy of his or her engagement with the U.S. citizen fiance(e).

    The K1 visa applicant must bring the following documents to the interview:

    • Completed Form DS-160
    • A valid passport for travel
    • Birth certificate
    • Divorce or death certificates of any former spouse(s)
    • Police certificates from the applicant’s present country of residence and all countries where the applicant has lived for six months or more since age 16
    • Medical examination documents
    • Evidence of financial support, including Form I-134, if requested
    • Two photographs conforming to photograph requirements
    • Evidence of the applicant’s relationship with the U.S. citizen fiance(e)
    • Payment of all applicable fees

    Step Three: Entering the United States

    After a K1 visa is issued to an applicant, the Consular Officer will provide the applicant with a passport containing the K1 visa and a sealed packet that contains the documents the applicant provided as well as documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The new K1 visa holder must not open the sealed packet. The sealed packet will be opened by the DHS immigration official when the new K1 visa holder enters the United States. The new K1 visa holder must seek entry into the United States within 6 months from the date the visa was issued.

    A K1 visa holder must marry the U.S. citizen fiance(e) within 90 days of arrival to the United States. After the marriage, the U.S. citizen fiance(e) will need to submit Form I-485 to the USCIS with application for adjustment of status so that the K1 visa holder can become a legal permanent resident.

    After the U.S. citizen spouse submits the Form I-485 with accompanying documents, the application to register for permanent residence is reviewed by the USCIS. Both of the new spouses are usually required to appear for an interview. Approval of the Form I-485 will grant the foreign citizen spouse a Green Card valid for 10 years.

    If the marriage is less than two years old at the time the Form I-485 is approved, the USCIS will grant the foreign citizen spouse conditional permanent resident status and issue him or her a Green Card valid for 2 years. The conditions will then need to be removed by the foreign citizen spouse filing Form I-751 in the 90 days before his or her Green Card expires.

  • K2 visa process

    The process for obtaining a K2 visa for eligible children of the K1 visa applicant can occur simultaneously to the K1 visa applicant’s petition, or after.

    Generally, the K2 application process involves the same steps as the K1 visa application process.

    Form I-129F and Form DS-160

    When the U.S. citizen fiance(e) submits the Form I-129F, the children seeking a K2 visa must be listed on the form. Eligible children may apply for K2 visas if the Form I-129F is approved for the K1 visa applicant.

    After approval of the Form I-129F with all eligible K2 visa applicants listed, each K2 visa applicant must have his or her own Form DS-160 completed and submitted, and each must pay the required fee. The K2 visa applicants over the age of 14 will likely be required to attend the U.S. Embassy or Consulate along with his or her parent.

    At the interview, the K2 visa applicant and his or her parent will be asked questions to verify their relationship and the K2 applicant’s eligibility.

    The K2 visa applicant should bring to the interview the following documents:

    Entering the United States

    After the marriage, the U.S. citizen fiance(e) will need to submit Form I-485 to the USCIS with application for adjustment of status so that the K2 visa holder can become a legal permanent resident.

How much does it cost to get a K1 & K2 visa?

  • The Form I-129F filing fee is $535
  • DS-160 fee is $160
  • Potential biometrics fee is $85
  • Embassy fee is $265
  • Form I-485 fee is $750-$1,140
  • Form I-751 fee is $595
  • Medical exam cost varies

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Sweta Khandelwal

Sweta completed her Masters in Law from the University of California, Los Angeles and her JD from the Faculty of Law, Delhi University in India and has been practicing law for 15+ years getting visas, green cards, and citizenship for 1000+ clients, 100+ companies across 50+ nationalities.

Sweta has been recognized as a ” Super Lawyer, Rising Star,” and as amongst the ” Top 40 under 40″ immigration attorneys in California (American Society of Legal Advocates). She is also the recipient of the Advocacy Award by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Sweta is also a chartered accountant — the equivalent of a CPA. This makes her uniquely positioned to understand the immigration needs of her business clients in the broader context of their corporate objectives.

Sweta is actively involved with immigration issues and immigrant communities in various capacities. She has assumed key roles at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), both at the local and national level. She has been a past chair at the Santa Clara Valley Chapter at AILA and has also been involved in various practice area committees at AILA National. Sweta has addressed multiple conferences/forums in the United States and worldwide on immigration and business issues.

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