USA and the UK
What is the K 1 Visa?
The K 1 visa is designed for U.S. citizens who are looking to marry their foreign-born spouse in the United States. Unfortunately, green card holders can not sponsor their fiancé(e) for entry into the United States for the purposes of marriage as this fiancé visa is only available to U.S. citizens.
The K 1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows for a foreign fiancé(e) to enter the U.S. for the purpose of legally getting married in the country within a 90-day time frame. After the couple is married, the foreign spouse can then adjust their status and apply for a marriage-based green card (CR1 visa) without having to leave the country.
The foreign fiancé(e) can also sponsor their child dependents through a K2 visa to come to the United States with them where they can witness the wedding/marriage ceremony and also adjust their status to stay in the U.S. as a permanent resident with their parent/guardian.
Why go to the United States to marry?
There are many reasons why a couple chooses to get married in the United States. They may choose to get married in the U.S. to be closer to family and friends who can attend the wedding/ceremony or simply just like the location and venues in the U.S.
However, for some, getting married in the United States is the only way for them to legally wed. Depending on the laws and customs of the foreign fiancé(e)’s country, marriage might be forbidden if a couple is same-sex or marrying a person of a different faith. Therefore, marriage in the United States is the only way for a couple to legally wed.
How do you apply for a K 1 Visa?
If you would like to get married in the United States to your foreign betrothed, you will need to apply for a K 1 visa. To do this, the U.S. citizen must sponsor and file an official I-129F petition form with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If this petition is approved, it will then be passed onto the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then ask for your foreign fiancé(e) to file an official application for a K 1 visa and attend an in-person visa interview with a consular officer at their local US Embassy or Consulate.
If a fiancé(e) has dependents that he or she would also like to travel to the United States with them under a K2 visa, they will need to be included in this application.
What are the requirements for a K 1 Visa?
You can bring your foreign fiancé(e) to the U.S. for the purposes of getting married if you can meet the following requirements:
- You are a US citizen. Green card holders are ineligible to sponsor their partners for K 1 visa sponsorship. They can however marry abroad then file for an F2A visa that will bring their spouse to the United States.
- You have the intention to marry within the 90 days that your foreign fiancé(e) is in the United States. To do this, you must demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and have plans already in place for marriage.
- You are both legally free to marry in the United States. This means that both parties are single and can demonstrate that they are not currently married to another person. If previously married, both individuals must provide evidence that they are no longer married. This could be proof of divorce from their previous spouse or a death certificate.
- You can demonstrate that you have physically met your fiancé(e) at least once within the last two years. These meetings must have occurred within 2 years before filing for a K 1 visa petition. You may apply for a waiver of this requirement if you can prove that meeting in person would violate the cultural traditions and customs of your partner’s country or if the meeting would create extreme hardship for you.
- You can prove that you meet the necessary income requirements. If you are sponsoring your foreign partner, you must demonstrate that you have the financial ability to support both you and your future spouse while living in the United States. You will need to prove that you have the required current income for both of you to live above the poverty line.
What are the income requirements for a K 1 Visa?
The foreign fiancé(e) is not subject to specific income requirements however he or she will need to file a DS-5540 (Public Charge Questionnaire) to prove that they will not become a public charge.
However, the U.S. citizen must be at or above 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. This amount will differ depending on which state the U.S. citizen resides. For more information about poverty guidelines, go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
How long does it take for a K 1 visa to be approved?
K 1 visas are usually processed within 5-7 months. Of course, this will depend on the strength of your application, if any additional information is needed, and if there are any visa backlogs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to compete with.
How much does a K 1 visa cost?
If you want to apply for a K 1 visa, you will need to pay the following fees:
- K 1 visa fiancé(e) petition (Form I-129F) fee: $535
- Consulate fee for non-immigrant visa application processing: $265
The embassy or consulate fee is paid near the end of the visa application process at whichever embassy or consulate processed the visa and held the interview with your foreign fiancé(e).
It should be noted that if your fiancé(e) intends to stay in the United States after getting married, he or she will need to apply for an adjustment of status for the marriage-based green card. This will incur additional charges and fees.
All about Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e))
One of the first steps in applying for a K 1 visa is for the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) to petition for the sponsorship of their foreign fiancé(e). To do this, he or she will need to complete and submit Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)). The purpose of this form is to demonstrate that the relationship is bona fide and genuine between the U.S. citizen and their alien fiancé(e).
In addition to the completed form, the citizen fiancé(e) will need to submit the following supporting documents as evidence:
- Proof of the citizenship of the U.S. citizen petitioner (copy of a passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate)
- Copy of the passport of the U.S. Citizen
- Evidence that demonstrated the relationship is genuine (photos, correspondence, sworn statements from friends and colleagues, etc.)
- Proof that you have met in person within the past 2 years (flight itineraries, hotel itineraries, photos, correspondence, etc.)
- A personal statement from both partners about your relationship and intention to marry
- Passport standard color photos of each partner (taken within 30 days of when you submitted the petition)
- Divorce or death certificate of the previous spouse (if applicable)
When all of your supporting documents are collected together, you can then send it off with Form I-129F who will review it and send you a decision on whether or not you are approved. If you receive an approval notice, the application will then be passed off to the National Visa Center who then forwards it to the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate of the foreign country where the foreign fiancée resides.
Form DS-160 and Visa Interview
After your visa petition is approved, the application stage can then begin. The foreign partner will then receive a notice from their local US Embassy or Consulate detailing the next steps of the K 1 visa application. The foreign partner will first have to complete the DS-160 Form online followed by a visa interview at their local Embassy or Consulate.
The DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) Form is for temporary travel to the United States and can be completed online. Once you have completed and submitted this form online, make sure to print the confirmation page at the end as you will need it when you attend the K 1 visa interview.
At the visa interview, the foreign partner will then be asked a series of questions by a consular officer about their background, plans to marry, their U.S. citizen partner, and their relationship. The purpose of this interview is to assess whether or not the relationship is bona fide. If the consular officer is satisfied that the relationship is genuine and the plans to marry are real, the foreign fiancée will then be issued a K 1 visa in their passport.
What is the next step after we get married?
If after you are married, you and your newly wedded spouse intend to live together in the United States, you will need to apply for a new spouse visa. This can be done by filing for an adjustment of status from a K 1 visa to a CR1 visa (aka, Marriage Green Card).
Applying for a marriage-based green card will allow the spouse of a U.S. citizen to be granted permanent resident status. He or she can live freely in the United States with their U.S. citizen spouse and can work or study without restrictions or the need to apply for specific permits.
In order to apply for a CR1 visa, you will need to go through the marriage-based visa process and prove that you meet the eligibility requirements for this spouse visa. This can be done in the United States through adjustment of status. The foreign spouse will not need to return to their home country if they file for an adjustment of status.
If you are approved for a marriage green card, you will be given a Conditional Residence visa. This visa is given to foreign spouses of U.S. citizens who have recently married. It is valid for 2 years, after which your spouse visa can then be renewed to an IR1 visa which is valid for 10 years. Both visas give the foreign spouse permanent resident status that allows them to live and work freely in the United States. After 3 years of living continuously in the U.S. under a marriage green card, the foreign spouse will become eligible to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen.
How long does Adjustment of Status take for K 1 Visa?
After you are married in the United States, you may want to apply for a marriage-based green card which will allow you to remain in the United States with your U.S. citizen spouse. In order to do this, you must adjust your status from a K 1 fiancé visa to a CR1 marriage-based visa.
This process is known as an adjustment of status and will usually take around 9-14 months to process for family-based green card applications. The time it takes to process the change of visas will depend on where in the U.S. you apply from and if any additional information is required.
Can you work with a K 1 visa?
It is possible to work in the U.S. under a K 1 visa if you are approved for work authorization. To do this, you must file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). The employment authorization is only as valid as the K 1 visa which is the 90 days that you are in the United States.
If after you have married your U.S. citizen spouse, you decide to file for an adjustment of status to change from a K 1 visa to a marriage green card, you may also file Form I-765 with your green card application. This will allow you to work in the U.S. for 1 year.
Can you extend the K 1 Visa?
The K 1 visa is only valid for 90 days. If during your 90-day stay in the U.S. you decide not to marry your U.S. citizen partner, you must return to your home country. Do not overstay your visa or you may risk being ineligible for future U.S. visas.
If you are unable to get married in those 90 days, you can apply for an adjustment of status if you applied within a reasonable amount of time. To do this, you must submit Form I-130 along with your adjustment of status form. This will come with an additional USCIS filing fee and you may need to need to go for another medical exam and visa interview.
Can you enter the United States under another visa and get married to your U.S. citizen fiancé(e)?
If you decide to get married in the United States to your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and then adjust your status while in the U.S. to a marriage-based green card, you must use the K 1 Visa. If you decide to marry your U.S. citizen partner in the U.S. whilst under a Tourist visa, you will need to leave the U.S. when your visa expires. After returning to your home country, you can then apply for a marriage-based green card through consular processing.
How can IAS help me?
At IAS, we specialize in helping happy couples marry in the U.S. and live happily ever after.
Our law firm is experienced in submitting successful K 1 fiancé visa applications and subsequent marriage green card applications. Our attorney services include:
- Reviewing your situation and assessing your eligibility
- Helping you to gather the required supporting documents to build a strong case
- Liaising with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on your behalf
- Helping you fill your Form I-129F
- Helping you with your adjustment of status to marriage-based green card
Get in touch today. You can call us on +1 844 290 6312 or ask for a free call back from our immigration experts.
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