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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.
Can a fiance(e) permanently live in the U.S. using a K1 visa?
The K1 visa is not permanent. The K1 visa is the nonimmigrant visa available for foreign citizens who are engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States. K1 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. The foreign citizen fiance(e) must meet certain requirements in order to be granted a K1 visa.
Who is Eligible for a 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.
What is the Process to Apply for a K1 Visa?
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. The steps to this process are described below:
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: Schedule 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.
Step Three: Prepare for 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 Four: Enter 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.
Step Five: Get Married
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.
For How Long is the K1 Visa Valid?
Generally, the K1 visa is valid for 90 days after arrival to the United States. The foreign citizen fiance(e) and his or her U.S. citizen fiance(e) must be married within these 90 days in order for the K1 visa holder to stay in the United States. If the U.S. citizen fiance(e) and K1 visa holder are not married within 90 days, the K1 visa holder must leave the United States.
How Much Does it Cost to Apply for the K1 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 $1,140
- Form I-751 fee is $595
- Medical exam cost varies