What is a K-1 Visa?
The K-1 Visa is a visa specifically for the foreign fiancé(e) of a United States citizen. The purpose of the visa fiancé is to allow the foreign fiancé to enter the United States with the K-1 visa status to marry his/her United States citizen fiancée and apply for a green card.
Although a K1 visa is considered a “nonimmigrant” visa, it is more like a hybrid visa, since the visa intends to allow the foreign fiancé to ultimately “immigrate” to the United States.
Do I qualify for a K-1 Visa?
The most obvious qualification is that you have a United States citizen fiancée who is willing to sponsor you for the K1 visa.
Other important qualification aspects are as follows:
- you have an intention to marry within 90 days of entry on the K-1;
- you’re legally eligible to marry;
- and that you and your fiancée have met in person within the two years of filing the fiancé visa petition.
How does the process work?
The process generally works as follows:
- United States citizen fiance(e) files the Petition for Alien Fiance(e) in the United States on behalf of his/her foreign fiance(e);
- USCIS evaluates and ultimately approves the petition; and
- Upon approval, USCIS transfers the case to the National Visa Center.
National Visa Center (NVC) states:
- The NVC reviews the file for completeness;
- The NVC may communicate with the petitioner and attorney that the case has been received and is being processed; and
- Upon file review, the NVC transfers the case to the United States Embassy/Consulate abroad.
United States Consulate:
- The United States Consulate abroad receives the file and issues a request to the beneficiary for specific documents and information;
- The beneficiary provides documents and information requested;
- The Consulate issues a notice to the beneficiary with an interview date and a list of items to bring to the interview;
- Assuming the case is approved at the interview, the beneficiary is issued a K-1 visa in his/her passport shortly thereafter; and
- The beneficiary uses the K-1 visa in his/her passport to enter the United States and marry his/her United States citizen fiance(e) within 90 days and applies for a green card.
How long is the visa valid for?
The actual K-1 visa is valid for 6 months. The visa is known as a “single-entry” visa, meaning that it can be used only ONCE for entry to the United States.
How soon do I have to marry after entering the United States?
You are required to marry within 90 days of entry on the K-1 visa.
How do I apply for a green card after entering on the K-1 visa?
After you have married your United States citizen fiancé(e) you can then apply for a green card through the marriage green card process. For more info on this process, please see the following: green card through marriage.
How long does the Visa K-1 process take?
From the time the application is submitted, the entire process could take approximately 5-8 months.
However, processing times fluctuate and it’s difficult to put an exact time frame on a case because three different agencies are involved in the process: USCIS; the National Visa Center; and the United States Embassy/Consulate. Each of these organizations has their own time frames that fluctuate.
How do I plan a wedding with such an uncertain time frame?
We recommend that you do not make any definite plans until the actual visa is approved at the United States Embassy/Consulate.
What if we marry before the visa is issued?
If you marry before the visa is issued then you will no longer be a fiancé(e) and if you’re no longer a fiancé(e) you cannot obtain a K-1 Fiance Visa. An individual in this scenario would probably want to apply for a green card via the immigrant visa route.
What if I don’t marry the United States citizen fiance(e) who sponsored me for the K-1 visa?
Then you cannot apply for a green card. In fact, your immigration options in the United States will be severely limited and impaired as you cannot change status to another nonimmigrant status from the K-1 status and you cannot adjust status to a permanent resident through any other route aside from the one based on a marriage to the petitioner who originally submitted fiancé petition.
Are there any quotas or caps for K-1 visas?
There are no quotas or caps for K-1 fiance(e) visas.
How recently do we have to have met? You and your fiancé(e) must have met IN PERSON within two years of filing the Petition for Alien Fiance(e), which is the first part of the process. This requirement may be waived if “extreme hardship” or “long-established” custom can be established.
What if I have children?
Children can accompany the foreign fiancé(e) by obtaining a K-2 visa. They must be unmarried, under the age of 21, and named in the petition.
How does the fiance K-1 visa compare to the K-3 marriage visa?
The K-3 Marriage Visa is for the spouses of United States citizens and works in much the same way as a K-1 visa. However, since the immigrant visa process is now relatively quick, the K-3 marriage visa no longer makes sense for the spouses of United States citizens.
Spouses of United States citizens who are abroad and are not able to return to the United States should process their green card via the immigrant visa route as opposed to the K-3 visa.
What if I’m already in the United States?
Depending on your status, how you entered the United States, your travel needs over the next few months, and your marriage plans, if you are already in the United States it may make more sense to just marry your United States citizen fiancé and apply for a green card through marriage as opposed to navigating the process via the K-1 Fiance Visa.
Please contact us to discuss this scenario with an experienced K-1 Visa Lawyer.
Is there a financial requirement for the petitioner?
Yes, the petitioner will have to submit an affidavit of support as part of both the fiancé visa application and as part of the marriage green card affidavit. The affidavit of support in connection with the fiancé visa petition (I-134) is technically not a legally enforceable contract and therefore if a joint sponsor is needed it may be easier to convince a friend or family member to help out. The affidavit of support (I-864) in connection with the marriage green card process is a legally enforceable contract. For more info on the I-864, please see: green card affidavit of support.
What type of information and documents do you need from me and my fiance(e)?
A substantial amount of information and documents are necessary for the K-1 fiancee visa process. At the beginning of the process, we’ll need passports, birth certificates, divorce documents, and other similar items, along with substantial evidence of the relationship. Later on in the process, we’ll need items such as tax documents, bank statements, and police records…just to name a few.
As each case is unique, we can discuss the specific needs of your case during a case evaluation.
What if I don’t live in New York City?
We take great pride in offering the same stellar level of service to individuals whether they are located across the street, across the country, or across the globe. Whether we meet in person, over the phone, or using the internet, our strong communication will be an asset to your case.
How much will a K-1 visa cost?
The USCIS petition fee is $535 and the K-1 visa stamp fee due at the consulate abroad is $240. There will also be fees associated with the medical exam, that may range from $100 to $300. The flat legal fee depends on the details of the case.
Give us a call and we will be happy to discuss our fees with you. Rest easy, Lightman Law Firm takes great pride in offering the highest level of service at an affordable FLAT rate, and we will never pressure you to work with us.
Put our K-1 Visa Attorney experience to work for you.