A Guide To The U.S. Fiancé(e) Visa (K-1 Visa)
For many, the journey to the United States is not only about pursuing personal dreams but also uniting with loved ones. This includes those intending to marry a U.S. citizen, for whom the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa is designed. If you are engaged to a US citizen and you’d like to marry on American soil, the K-1 visa is your best bet.
Who Qualifies for a K-1 Visa?
Popularly known as fiancé(e) visa, the K-1 visa is designed for American citizens who want to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the US with the intention of marrying them shortly after they enter the country. To be considered for the visa, certain conditions must be satisfied. Firstly, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. Both the U.S. citizen and their foreign fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry and must have met in person at least once within the past two years, though certain exceptions to this last condition may apply. And like every sponsored US visa, there must be proof of financial support showing the petitioner can meet the needs of their household including fiancé(e).
Step by Step Process
To simplify the process, let’s break it down into three steps:
Step 1: Petition with Form I-129F
The first step is for the U.S. citizen to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The purpose is to prove the genuineness of your relationship and provide other evidence attesting that you are both free to marry. This includes proof that none of you have an existing marriage. If you were once married, you must provide divorce or death certificate from the previous marriage. When submitting your petition, it must be accompanied by the following supporting documents:
- Proof of citizenship, such as passport, birth certificate, and certificate of naturalisation
- Evidence showing bona fide relationship, such as photos, communication correspondence, hotel reservations receipts, etc.
- Colour passport of each partner
- Proof that you have met at least once in the last 2 years.
- Proof of previous marriage that are legally terminated (divorce or death certificate)
- Personal statements from both partners about your relationship and intention to marry.
Upon approval, the USCIS forwards the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Centre.
Step 2: Visa Application with the Department of State
Following the USCIS approval, the foreign fiancé(e) will apply for the K-1 visa with the Department of State at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. This involves an interview, in which they must demonstrate the genuineness of the relationship and their intent to marry within 90 days of arriving in the U.S.
Step 3: Inspection at the port of entry by CBP
The approved K-1 visa allows the foreign fiancé(e) to travel to a U.S. port of entry. However, admission into the U.S. is not guaranteed. The fiancé(e) must be admitted by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer who inspects arrivals at the port of entry. The CBP officer may refuse entry if the foreign national is inadmissible under U.S. immigration law.
Marriage within 90 days of entering the U.S.
The K-1 visa is a unique non-immigrant visa. While it allows the holder to enter the U.S., it also obligates the couple to marry within 90 days of entry. Post marriage, the foreign spouse can then apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). It’s important to remember that failing to marry within the stipulated time may result in severe immigration consequences.
The journey of love may cross international boundaries and navigating through immigration rules can be challenging. However, by following the instructions from USCIS and the embassy where the application will be made, you’ll be better equipped to embark on this journey. You can also work with immigration experts to guide you through the process.