Process for K-1 Visas

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 visa applies to both a fiancée and a fiancé of US citizens.

The process to obtain a K-1 visa involves several steps, including:

  • Filing the petition
  • Petition approval
  • Processing
  • Scheduling the interview appointment
  • The visa interview

Filing the Petition

To begin the K-1 process, you file a petition for your foreign fiancé(e) at the Department of Homeland Security's US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office having jurisdiction over your current or intended residence in the US. Petitions for K-1 visas can't be filed or approved outside the US. You will be charged a filing fee for the petition. The children of your fiancé(e) must be listed in the petition even if they aren't planning on traveling to the US with your fiancé(e).

You must present supporting documentation with your petition to confirm your identity and your future spouse's identity. The documentation will also prove that both of you are legally free to marry.

The following documents are required:

  • Evidence that you are an American citizen, such as your birth certificate or naturalization certificate
  • Proof of termination of any prior marriages for you and your fiancé(e), such as a divorce decree or death certificate
  • Evidence that you have met your fiancé(e) face to face during the two years prior to the filing of the petition and evidence of your relationship, such as airline tickets, visa stamps, hotel receipts and dated photos

Any documents in a foreign language should include an English translation.

Petition Approval

The USCIS will notify you when it has approved your petition. Approval times vary but generally are from one to five months. The USCIS then sends your petition to the State Department, which performs a background check, and then forwards it to the correct embassy and consulate for final processing. Your petition will be valid for four months, but it can be extended if a visa can't be issued during that period.


The American Consulate sends a name check cable to the FBI. After receiving a response from the FBI, the US Embassy will send a Packet 3 to your fiancé(e).

The Packet 3 notifies your fiancé(e) of the documents he or she must collect prior to the visa interview. The documents must be originals bearing the signatures and seals of the issuing authorities. Any documents in a foreign language should include an English translation.

When your fiancé(e) has collected all the documents specified in Packet 3, he or she should notify the US Embassy by returning the form in Packet 3 certifying that all required documents have been obtained.

Schedule Interview Appointment

The US Embassy will send out Packet 4 explaining the process of obtaining a medical exam and scheduling an appointment for a visa interview after it receives the following items:

  • Approved petition from USCIS
  • Clearances from the required name checks
  • Signed DS-156 and DS-156K from your future spouse

Packet 4 contains an appointment date and instructions on where to go to complete the medical examination. The medical exams must be performed by one of the physicians identified in Packet 4.

Visa Interview

On the date of the appointment, your fiancé(e) should come to the Immigrant Visa section of the US Embassy. Children under age 14 don't need to attend the interview.

Your fiancé(e) will be asked to present:

  • Valid passports for your future spouse and any dependent children
  • Birth certificates for your future spouse and any dependent children
  • Proof of termination of any prior marriages
  • A police certificate from the current place of residence of your future spouse, as well as from any place or places of residence for 6 months or more since attaining the age of 16
  • Police certificates for any dependent children over age 16
  • Vaccination records
  • Medical exam results
  • Proof of adequate financial support
  • Supporting documentation verifying the relationship between you and your fiancé(e)

After a consular officer has reviewed the case, your fiancé(e) will be interviewed. The consular officer will ask your fiancé(e) questions about your relationship. The consular officer must verify that your relationship with your fiancé(e) is real and that you do intend to marry within 90 days of the arrival of your fiancé(e) in the US. Your fiancé(e) will be required to sign a statement regarding his or her legal capacity to marry and intention to marry.

If everything is in order at the time of the interview, your fiancé(e) will receive a visa the same day.

Originals of important documents, such as birth, marriage and death records, will be returned to your fiancé(e) after the interview.

Supporting documentation will be placed in a sealed envelope and given to your future spouse for presentation to USCIS at the port of entry.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • How much are K-1 visa fees?
  • Does a K-1 visa expire?
  • What documents should a foreign fiancé(e) bring to a visa interview?

Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm

- K - 1 Fiance Visas
- Children of K-1 or K-3 Visa Holders
- Fiance Visa FAQ
- Find an Immigration lawyer in your area
- Visit our Immigration - U.S. Issues Message Board for more help

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