USA and the UK
What is the K1 Visa?
US citizens are able to bring their foreign fiance to the United States to get married on a K1 visa. The visa allows an alien fiancé to come to the US and marry within 90 days of arrival. Once married, they can apply for a change in status to become a US resident with permanent residency status. Eventually, they can apply for and be granted full US citizenship.
It is important to note the K1 visa is classed as a non-immigrant visa – meaning it is a temporary visa. Immigration rules means the fiancé from a foreign country can not stay longer than 90 days and if they do not marry their U.S citizen fiancé within that timescale then they must leave the country.
However, it may be possible to apply for a K1 visa extension in exceptional circumstances but an extension can not be guaranteed so you may wish to seek the advice from an immigration attorney.
The visa is for people who are planning to get married in the US. For those that are already married then the most appropriate option is to apply for a K3 Spouse Visa.
K1 Visa application
Applying for a K1 Visa can be a very lengthy and confusing process. It is very important to ensure you apply in the correct way and include all required supporting documents to prevent any additional processing time delays and separation from your loved ones.
To start the process the US citizen will submit a I-129F petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once this first step is approved then the fiance visa petition will be passed to a National Visa Center. The foreign fiancé will need to make an application and attend a visa interview with a Consular Officer at their local US Embassy.
The processing time for this step can vary on a case-by-case basis because the USCIS service center will carry out various background checks to establish the status of the sponsor.
It can also take around six weeks for officials to arrange the interview at the embassy or consular office. During this time, the K1 Visa applicant may wish to ensure they have attended a medical examination and ensure all vaccinations are up-to-date.
The person conducting the visa approval interview will usually make a decision about the outcome of the K1 Visa application within 24 hours or they may request further information to enable them to make a decision. It is crucial that any additional evidence is supplied quickly in order to avoid any further delays to the K1 Visa processing time.
Check K1 Visa Eligibility
A key part of ensuring a K1 Visa is processing efficiently is to ensure that you meet all the requirements for the visa before making an application.
You must be able to show you intend to get married within 90 days and that you and your partner will meet the following criteria:
- The sponsoring partner must be a U.S citizen and have permanent residence in the UK. Green card holders are not eligible to sponsor a K-1 Visa application of foreign fiancé.
- Both people must be able to get married – so they must not already be married and they must have evidence of any previous marriages, divorces or annulments.
- Same-sex partners are covered by K1 Visas – even if the foreign spouse/partner’s home country does not permit same-sex marriage.
- The applicants must be able to provide evidence of a genuine and bona fide relationship with written statements from friends and family as well as correspondence between partners. You may also be required to provide required supporting documents such as photographs and receipts to prove legitimacy.
- Evidence of a planned wedding within 90 days is also required. For example, a receipt of a deposit on a venue or a wedding invitation alongside a signed statement confirming an intent to wed must be submitted with the K-1 visa application.
- There are also financial requirements that need to be met. It is required that the U.S citizen should have an income on their most recent tax return that is at least equal to Federal Poverty Guidelines. Employment authorization may also be undertaken by a government agency to double check the income of the U.S citizen petitioner.
Is it possible to opt for K1 Visa premium processing?
For many US visas it is possible to pay an additional fee to speed up the processing times. However, the K1 Visa does not qualify for premium processing.
An alternative to premium processing may be to consider when to make your application and there is some suggestion that certain petitions filed during the summer months are processed quicker than those filed in winter. This may be because the majority of K1 visas are made ahead of summer time weddings and the USCIS have many to process in the months running up to this period.
Extending a K1 Visa
The K1 Visa is granted as a single entry visa that is solely for the purpose of a foreign national marrying a US citizen or permanent resident within 90 days. However, wedding plans can be subject to delays or complications so it is possible to apply to get this time period extended beyond the 90 days.
However, to do so means a number of required documents being submitted in support of a K1 Visa extension. You must prove the wedding will still go ahead and that the delay was unavoidable and for a genuine reason. It is advisable to seek the advice of an immigration law expert as applying for a extension can be a difficult process.
You will need to submit form I-130 along with your application for adjustment of status and pay the additional filing fee.
If you are no longer planning to get married than the foreign fiancé will need to leave the US before the visa expires otherwise it could have long-term impact on future visa applications.
Last modified on April 26th, 2023 at 10:14 am
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The next step to becoming to be a green card holder is to complete a Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status.
Visa fraud and marriage fraud have been a rising problem for US immigration officials, and as such spouse visas and fiance visas come under increased scrutiny. Marriage fraud is when the person coming to the US is doing so fraudulently on a spouse or fiance visa with the intention of avoiding US immigration laws and falsely acquire immigration benefits such as a green card.
This is why, during your interview with an immigration official, questions will focus on the validity and authenticity of your relationship. It is your job to convince them that your relationship is genuine through not just strong supplementary evidence with your application, but also your answer to questions in an interview. You must persuade the immigration official of your genuine intention to get married and lead a life together with your fiance in the US.
You will face probing questions about yourself, your partner in the US, and your relationship details. Be prepared for quite in-depth and almost intrusive questioning about how and when you and your fiance met, and what your exact intentions are for getting married and living together in the US.
As a K1 visa holder, it’s possible to bring dependent children to the US with you. They will need to become visa applicants themselves, but won’t need separate k visa petitions. Your dependents must be family members and to be eligible they must be both unmarried children under the age of 21 and your own dependent children.
If they meet all the necessary requirements and are eligible to travel with you, they will be granted a separate K2 visa for dependent children. This will allow them to stay in the US with you while you visit for your intended marriage. You can make the application at the same time as your K1 fiance visa application, and both can be considered as part of the same visa petition.
You dependent children will be permitted to stay with you in the US for up to two years. Alternatively, if they turn 21 within this time, they will then need to apply separately to remain in the US.
There are also some common additional variable costs that you may want to take into consideration when applying for your visa and when calculating the costs involved. These might include:
- Travel costs. While not part of your K1 visa fees, the cost for the foreign fiance to travel to the US after visa approval can vary significantly. Depending on where in the world you are traveling from and the travel options you have available to you, costs for things such as plane tickets and hotel fees may vary between a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
- Medical examination. All K visa applicants need to undergo a medical examination before traveling to the US. These costs will vary and are entirely based on the country in which you are having your K visa interview. The fee is paid directly to a medical facility, which is determined by the US embassy.
- Legal assistance. A lot of K visa applicants end up seeking legal advice and assistance when putting together their visa application. These costs can vary based on your needs and the particular circumstances of your case.
- Miscellaneous costs. Other costs that you might want to take into account include things like translation and photocopying costs. You’ll need to acquire all the sufficient documents for your visa application such as valid passports, birth certificate, and police certificates, all of which can incur costs. If you’re planning on bringing dependent unmarried children to the US with you, these potential K2 visa holders won’t need to pay additional USCIS fees as part of the petition. However, child K2 applicants will require additional embassy fees and medical examination fees.
It’s important to remember that, if the foreign fiance is planning on seeking an official adjustment of status to become a full permanent resident with a green card, then the fees can become significantly higher. This is the usual route that engaged couples take when applying for the K1 visa, with the foreign spouse gaining full immigrant status after marriage.
Seeking adjustment of status costs a minimum of $1,225 in government fees, bringing the total cost of your journey as a foreign fiancé to a minimum of $2,025 in total. These fees account for:
- Initial filing of form I-485 – application for adjustment of status as a permanent resident ($1,140).
- Biometrics fees ($85).
Both of these fees are paid with a single check or cash payment while filing the application for permanent resident status with form I-485. The cost of an adjustment of status can be quite high and, as such, some couples choose not to apply. However, it’s still an incredibly popular route to full immigration status for couples with valid relationships wanting to live in the US. The benefits of lawful permanent resident status and eventual US citizenship are incredibly high for couples hoping to start a family in the US.
Getting your head around visa eligibility, applications, and visa interviews isn’t always easy. From the legal requirements to the total cost and total time involved, a lot of engaged couples find themselves confused and frustrated before even submitting a K1 fiance visa petition.
Just get in touch with us here today to discover how the Immigration Advice Service can help you on your way to a successful K1 Visa application. We offer untimed advice consultation sessions in which you can benefit from having all your questions answered by a fully qualified immigration lawyer.