How to get a K-1 Visa (Fiancee Visa)
A US Citizen can apply for a special temporary visa to allow a non-citizen (their fiancée) to enter the country in order to get married to a US citizen inside the US.
Note: If the non-citizen is already a legal resident in the US, or if you plan to marry outside of the US, you do not need a K1 visa. A person visiting on a tourist visa is NOT a legal resident.
Marriage To A Non US Citizen with a K1 Visa or a Tourist Visa?
Some individuals incorrectly believe that a K1 visa can easily be replaced with a standard tourist visa. However, USCIS generally will make the immigration progress more difficult for a non-citizen who comes to the US on a tourist visa and marries during their stay. USCIS will assume that this was done to circumvent the visa process and that could be seen as a violation of the law. It is not recommended that couples marry on a tourist visa in the US, but instead file I-129F for a K1 Visa prior to getting married in the US.
Fiancee Visa Process – Application for K1 Visa
File form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancée Link to download: http://www.uscis.gov/i-129f
Who Is Involved in a K1 Visa?
(1) The Petitioner – a US Citizen who files the application
(2) The non-citizen – the non-US citizen who will be coming to the US in order to get married
K1 Fiancee Visa Requirements – Eligibility
In order to petition for a a fiancée visa, you must show that:
- The petitioner is a US citizen
- The couple intends to marry within 90 days of the non-citizen entering the US
- Both people are both free to marry, and that any previous marriages have been legally terminate by divorce, death or annulment
- Both people each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing the petition.
**There are two (2) exceptions to #4 –both require a waiver:
(a) If the requirement to meet would violate cultural customs of both people
(b) If the petitioner can prove that meeting would result in extreme hardship (i.e. he or she can’t afford the travel expense, etc)
After the fiancée visa is issued:
Once issued, the K1 visa will allow the non-citizen to enter the United States legally, for 90 days in order for the marriage ceremony to take place. Once you marry, the non-citizen can remain in the US and may apply for permanent residence. While USCIS processes the application, the non-citizen can remain in the US legally.
Children of Non-Citizen (K-2 Visa)
If the non-citizen has children who are under 21 years old and unmarried, they may be able to come to the US as well. The petitioner needs to include their names on the I-129F, and they can get a K-2 visa.
Permission to Work with K1 Fiancee Visa
After the non-citizen arrived in the US, he or she can immediately apply for permission to work by filling out a form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization”. http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-765.pdf
If NO Marriage Takes Place Within 90 Days
If no marriage takes place, the K1 visa expires. It can not be extended. The non-citizen should immediately leave the US, or he or she will be in violation of US law and could be deported. If the non-citizen is found to be in violation of US law, they could also be denied immigration at a later time.
Which Documents Are Needed for K1 Visa
While each application is different, a few documents are always needed. Generally these are
• -Birth certificate or other document proving the name, birth date and birth place of both people
• -Documentary evidence proving that you have met in person within the last two years
• -Statements from both people showing intent to marry
• -In the case of previous marriages, the marriage certificates, divorce decrees and/or death certificates related to the termination of the previous marriage
Information About Certified Translations for K1 Visa
Any documentation submitted to USCIS that was not issued in English originally, or was issued in bilingual format, with both English and another language, must be accompanied by a certified translation specifically prepared for USCIS. Your attorney can provide additional information about this, or you can order a certified translation from a professional service.
MyCertifiedTranslations.com provides certified translations for USCIS, usually within about 2 days. Click here to go to our website and order certified translations for your K-1 Visa application.
K1 Visa Timeline
- One Week – Preparation of the I-129F – Shipment to USCIS
- 4-6 Months – USCIS processing
- 2 Weeks – National Visa Center
- 6-8 Weeks – US Embassy Interview of non-citizen in their country of residence
After the US Embassy interview, the non-citizen will receive their passport with K1 Visa by courier service within 3-5 days. This visa is valid for six months, but once it is used to enter the US, it expires 90 days later.
K1 visa processing times
Processing times vary by country that the non-citizen resides in, because it is up to the local embassy to schedule the final interview. For some countries, it can be as quick as a few weeks, and for some it may be a few months.