How to Get a K-1 Fiance Visa (A Step-by-Step Guide)

July 21, 2020
How to Get a K-1 Fiance Visa (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Summary

A K-1 Fiance Visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiance of a U.S. Citizen to enter the United States to get married. It is different from a Marriage Green Card. It will enable the foreign fiance (or fiancee) to get a Marriage Green Card once the couple is married. A K-1 Visa can be a good option for someone who wants to come to the U.S. more quickly than a Marriage Green Card through Consular Processing would allow. It can also be a good option for someone whose U.S. Citizen fiance cannot travel abroad to get married. Getting a K-1 Visa costs $800 and usually takes 12-15 months. Adjusting status to a Marriage Green Card from a K-1 Visa costs $1,225 and takes an additional 4-6 months. We can help you prepare the paperwork for both a K-1 Visa and a Marriage Green Card quickly and easily with our free online application. Click the button below to get started or read on to learn more.

This article is not legal advice. We do not intend for it to replace the expertise of an immigration attorney. Its goal is to help you learn more about the K-1 Fiance Visa process before you apply.

Overview

What is a K-1 Fiance Visa?

A K-1 Fiance Visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiance (or fiancee) of a U.S. Citizen to enter the United States to marry their Citizen fiance. U.S. immigration law requires the couple to marry within 90 days of the fiance's arrival in the U.S. A K-1 Visa is different from a Marriage Green Card. It will allow the foreign fiance (or fiancee) to get a Marriage Green Card from the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services once the couple is married. A K-1 Visa can be a good option for someone who wants to come to the U.S. more quickly than a Marriage Green Card through Consular Processing would allow. It can also be a good option for someone whose U.S. Citizen fiance cannot travel abroad to get married.

Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork

Who is eligible for a K-1 Fiance Visa?

To get a K-1 Fiancé Visa, all of the following must be true:

  • Either you or your fiance must be a U.S. Citizen
  • You and your fiancé(e) plan to marry each other within 90 days after your fiance arrives in the U.S. on their K-1 Visa
  • You and your fiancé can legally marry in the U.S., and any other marriages either of you was in have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment. Same-sex partners are eligible for K-1 visas.
  • You and your fiancé have met in person at least once in the two years before you file your application. If meeting in person would violate either fiance's religious or cultural practices or cause extreme hardship, you can request a waiver of the in-person meeting requirement.
  • You can prove that your relationship is legitimate. You can demonstrate this with evidence from throughout your relationship.
  • The U.S. Citizen fiancé's household income is at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If their income is below this amount, they must submit a supplemental Form I-864 or i-864A with their application).
  • The fiance applying to enter the U.S. can pass the public charge test.

Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork

How do you apply for a K-1 Fiance Visa?

If you and your fiance are eligible for a K-1 Fiance Visa, you can apply by following this 4-step K-1 Visa process. For additional information, check out this detailed guide from USCIS.

Step 1: File Form I-129F

The first step in the application process is for the U.S. citizen fiancé to prepare and file a Form I-129F K-1 visa petition with U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose of this form is to prove that your relationship is legitimate. Only a U.S. citizen may file Form I-129F - a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) cannot request a K-1 visa for their fiance.

We can help you prepare your Form I-129F for free with our simple online web app. Click the button below this section to get started.

What documents does USCIS need to process your Form I-129F Fiance Petition?

When you file your Form I-129F Fiance Petition with USCIS, you will need to include the following supporting documents with your forms:

  • Proof that the U.S. citizen fiancé is a citizen (i.e., copy of their passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate)
  • A copy of the foreign fiancé's passport
  • Proof that your relationship is "bona fide" (legitimate). Generally speaking, the more of the following evidence you provide, the better:
  • Pictures of you and your fiance together
  • Flight records and hotel reservations of trips you took together or to visit each other
  • Letters, emails, or texts that you sent to each other over the years.
  • Written statements from family, friends or colleagues who know that you are engaged
  • Proof that both of your prior marriages have ended (death certificates, certificates of divorce/annulment, etc.)
  • Proof that the two of you have met in person at least once within the past two years (flight itineraries, hotel receipts, photos, letters/texts/emails, etc.)
  • Sworn statements, written by and signed by each partner, that describe your relationship and that you intend to get married within 90 days of the foreign fiancé's arrival in the USA. It's best to provide the original signed statements and keep copies for your records.
  • A copy of any Form I-94 arrival-departure record that the foreign fiancé received when visiting the USA.
  • One passport-style photo of each partner
  • Filing fee. The filing fee for Form I-129F is $535. You can pay this fee by check, money order, or credit card. USCIS does not accept cash.

Once you mail your Form I-129F and supporting documents to the appropriate address, USCIS will send you a receipt notice within about 30 days. The receipt notice is proof that they are processing your case.

It usually takes USCIS 6-9 months to process an I-129F petition. Every USCIS service center has different processing times. The amount of time it will take the center to process your petition will depend on which service center you send your forms to.

While you wait, be on the lookout for any Requests for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. They will send an RFE if they need additional information.

Once USCIS approves your Form I-129F, they will send an approval notice to the mailing address(es) you provided on your form.

Step 2: File Form DS-160

Once they approve your Form I-129F petition, USCIS will transfer your case to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). The foreign fiance will receive a notice from the U.S. embassy in their home country about 30 days after their Form I-129F is approved. This notice will provide the date and location of their required visa interview. It will also include a list of additional supporting documents and instructions on how to provide these documents to the embassy. It is important to make sure that the contact information you provide on your Form I-129F is correct, or you may not receive this notice. We can help you prepare this paperwork correctly, for free, with our simple web app.

After you receive the notice from the U.S. embassy/NVC, the foreign fiancé needs to complete the State Department's online DS-160 form (the "Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application"). The DS-160 is the actual K-1 visa application. When you complete this form online, you need to print the confirmation page. Printing the confirmation page is very important because you will need to send it to the embassy and bring it to your visa interview. Our free online app will help you complete your Form DS-160 and the required supporting Forms I-134 and DS-5540. Click the button below this section to get started.

Supporting documents

The U.S. embassy processing your case will request documents from the U.S. citizen fiance and the foreign fiance. Every embassy has a specific process for providing these documents, so be sure to follow the instructions that they provide in their notice.

Documents from the U.S. citizen fiance

  • An Affidavit of Support (Form I-134). The affidavit of support is a binding legal document in which the U.S. citizen promises to use their resources to prevent their foreign fiance from relying on government benefits in the future.
  • Their most recent tax returns. You are only required to provide the most recent return, but it is good to provide returns for the past three years.
  • Proof of their relationship to the foreign fiance (copy of the approved I-129F package originally filed with USCIS)

Documents from the foreign fiance

  • Two passport-style photos
  • Their birth certificate
  • A copy of their valid, unexpired passport
  • Police clearances from all countries where they have lived for more than six months since you were 16 years old
  • A sealed medical exam form (they'll get this at an immigration medical examination from an approved doctor). For more information about the required medical exam, check out this article from the U.S. State Department.
  • Form DS-5540, Public Charge Questionnaire. The State Department uses this document to determine if the foreign fiance is likely to become a "public charge" in the future. If they suspect there is a risk of this happening, they will reject your application. You can check your risk of a public charge denial with our free online risk estimator app.

Step 3: Attend your visa interview and pay the visa fee

Your visa interview will take place at the U.S. embassy or consulate listed on the notice you received after USCIS transfers your application to the National Visa Center. This will probably be the embassy or consulate in the foreign fiance's home country and will take place 4–6 weeks after you receive the notice. Only the foreign fiance needs to attend the visa interview. The interview is usually pretty straightforward and painless. You can learn more about the visa interview here.

There is a $265 fee for a K-1 fiance visa. You will usually pay this fee at the visa interview, but every embassy/consulate has it's own requirements. Be sure to follow the instruction in the notice you receive from the embassy or consulate that is handling your case.

The consular officer who conducts your visa interview will usually make a decision on the same day as the interview. If they need additional information or evidence, they will ask you to submit it to the U.S. consulate/embassy after the interview.

Step 4: Come to the U.S. and get married!

Once your K-1 visa application has been approved, the foreign fiance will receive a sealed visa packet. Do not open this packet! The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who inspects you at the border will request it from you, and they may not allow you to enter the U.S. if the packet has already been opened.

It is important not to wait too long to enter the U.S. after your visa application is approved. You must enter the U.S. within four months of the date that your K-1 Visa is approved.

You need to get married to your U.S. citizen fiance within 90 days of arrival in the USA. If you don't, the foreign fiancé will lose their K-1 status. If you decide not to get married, the foreign fiance must return to their home country ASAP.

You cannot change status from a K-1 visa to anything other than a Marriage Green Card. You also can't use your K-1 Visa to marry anyone other than the U.S. citizen with whom you filed the Form I-129F.

After you get married, the foreign spouse can apply for a Marriage Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and the required supporting forms and documents. To learn more about this process, check out our article about how to get a Marriage Green Card with a K-1 Fiance Visa. We can help you prepare all of the required forms for this process for free with our simple online app. Click the button below to get started.

Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork

K-1 Fiance Visa FAQs

Do you have to be engaged to apply for a K-1 Fiance Visa?

You do not necessarily need to be engaged to get a K-1 Visa, but it will be much harder to prove that your relationship is legitimate if you are not married before you apply.

What are the income requirements for a K-1 Fiance Visa?

The U.S. Citizen sponsor must be at or above 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. There are no specific income requirements for the foreign fiance, but they will need to file DS-5540 in order to prove that they will not become a public charge.

Can I work with my K-1 Fiance Visa?

Yes. Once you have entered the U.S. on a K-1 Visa, you can immediately apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD). It will take USCIS 1-2 months to process this application, and the work permit will only be valid for the first 90 days after you enter the U.S. The best way to get a longer-term work permit is to apply for a Marriage Green Card. In this case, you can file Form I-765 together with Form I-485. We can help you prepare Form-I-765 by itself or with Form I-485 for free using our simple online app.

Can I bring my children to the U.S. with me on a K-1 visa?

Yes. You can bring your children to the U.S. with you as long as those children are under 21 and unmarried. If you include these children on Form I-129F, and they are eligible, they will receive K-2 Visas when you receive your K-1 Visa. Your children must continue to be unmarried and under 21 in order to be admitted to the United States with you as K-2 nonimmigrants. They may enter the U.S. with you or after you, but they cannot enter before you. They can apply for Green Cards with you once you use your K-1 Visa to marry the U.S. Citizen fiance who sponsored you.

What should I do if USCIS denies my K-1 Visa application?

If USCIS denies your K-1 visa application, you may be able to file an appeal. It is a good idea to work with an experienced immigration attorney to file your paperwork.

Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork
Prepare Your K-1 Visa Paperwork

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