The K-1 visa, also known as the K-1 fiancé(e) visa may be used by United States citizens who wish to bring their prospective husbands or wives to the US with the intention of getting married. The K-1 Visa applies to both a fiancée and a fiancé of US citizens. A fiancée is a woman to whom a man is engaged to be married. A fiancé is a man to whom a woman is engaged to be married.
The US citizen must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security's US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign fiancé(e). After the petition is approved, the fiancé(e) can obtain a K-1 visa, which is issued at a US embassy or consulate abroad. Minor children of fiancées can come with them to the US as they can be issued K-2 visas, which is the visa category for the minor children of a K-1 visa holder.
Until the actual marriage takes place, the fiancé(e) is considered a nonimmigrant. A nonimmigrant is a foreign national, a citizen of a country other than the US, seeking to temporarily enter the US for a specific purpose.
Both you and your fiancé(e) must be legally able and willing to legally marry in the US.
The US citizen and the foreign fiancé(e) must have previously met in person within the past two years unless the Attorney General waives that requirement. The USCIS sometimes makes an exception for this requirement.
Filing a Petition
To establish K-1 visa classification for a foreign fiancée, a US citizen must file a petition, Form I-129F, with the USCIS office that serves the area where the US citizen lives. This petition can't be filed at an embassy, consulate or US immigration office abroad.
After the USCIS approves the petition, it sends the petition to National Visa Center for processing, prior to sending it to the embassy or consulate where the foreign fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 visa.
Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the US and marry an American citizen shortly after arrival in the US, the fiancé(e) must meet most of the same documentary requirements of an immigrant visa applicant.
In addition to the application forms, the following documents are usually required:
- Valid passport
- Birth certificate
- Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse
- Police certificate from all places lived since age 16
- Medical examination with optional vaccinations
- Evidence of financial support
- Evidence of valid relationship with the petitioner
Depending on the circumstances of the case, the consular officer may ask for additional information. Documents in foreign languages should be translated.
Although US immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa, a fiancé(e) isn't required to fulfill this requirement at the time of his or her medical examination for a fiancé(e) visa.
Following the marriage, the alien spouse must apply to the USCIS to establish a record of entry for conditional permanent residence status. Vaccinations are required at the time of this status adjustment. After two years, the alien may apply to the USCIS for removal of the conditional status.
The following vaccinations are generally required before receiving a conditional permanent residence status adjustment:
- Acellular pertussis
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Influenza type b (Hib)
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
Ineligible for Visa
Some conditions and activities make an applicant ineligible for a K-1 visa. Examples of these are:
- Trafficking in drugs
- Having HIV/AIDS
- Overstaying a previous visa
- Practicing polygamy
- Advocating the overthrow of the government
- Submitting fraudulent documents
Marriage within 90 Days
A K-1 visa requires a foreigner marry his or her US citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entry, or leave the US.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Can the holder of a K-1 visa leave the US?
- Can the holder of a K-1 visa work in the US? Are there any restrictions?
- May children of a K-1 visa holder enter the US?