K-1 Fiancé Visa, everything you need to know

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If you’re an American citizen wanting to bring your foreign fiancé to the country to get married, this article is for you. Here, we will tell you everything you need to know about the K-1 Fiancé Visa. This non-immigrant visa will allow you to marry your fiancé within 90 days of your entry to the US. 

SPECIAL ALERT: Due to widespread problems with K-1 fiancé visa processing at consulates worldwide, a lawsuit has been filed to force reissuance of K-1 visas. Please stay tuned for further information. 

What is the K-1 Fiancé Visa? 

It is a non-immigrant visa for foreigners wishing to marry their American citizen fiancé. You can bring your fiancé to the US with a K-1 visa if you meet the following: 

  • You are an American citizen (Green card holders sponsor their fiancées and must marry. This is yet another reason to become a citizen if you can!) 
  • You and your fiancé will marry within 90 days of his or her admission to the US. 
  • You are both legally free to marry in the US. This means that you haven’t been married or any previous marriages were legally ended (by divorce, death, or annulment). 
  • You met in person at least once in the last two years. You can request a waiver if: 
  • The requirement violates cultural or social customs of your fiancé. 
  • It would result in extreme hardship to you, the American citizen. 

What is the K-1 visa process? 

  1. Petition for fiancé: 
  1. a. File Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) 
  1. USCIS will review your form and documents. They may require extra evidence. 
  1. USCIS makes a decision. 
  1. If approved, they send the approved petition to the DOS National Visa Center. 
  1. Visa application 
  1. The NVC sends the approved form to the US Embassy where your fiancé will apply. 
  1. The Embassy will notify when the visa interview was scheduled 
  1. Your fiancé applies for the visa. 
  1. Your fiancé goes to the interview with all required forms and documents 
  1. The consular officer decides. If it is granted, it will be valid for six months for one entry. 
  1. Inspection at port of entry. 
  1. Marriage. You have 90 days to marry 
  1. Adjustment of status. If you marry within those 90 days, your spouse can apply for a Green Card. File the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Are the fiancé’s children eligible? 

When applying for a K-1 visa, your fiancé’s children might be eligible. The children should be under 21 and unmarried. You must include them on the Form I-129F. No separate petition need be filed for the children, but they will have to file their own applications for the visa (step 2) and adjustment of status (step 5). 

How much does the K-1 visa cost? 

The USA fiancé visa costs $535.  

What documents should I provide? 

When applying for a K-1 fiancé visa, the sponsored fiancé should provide: 

  • Two passport-style photos 
  • Birth certificate 
  • Valid passport 
  • Police clearance 
  • Sealed medical exam form 

And the American citizen fiancé: 

  • Affidavit of support (Form I-134) 
  • Last tax returns 
  • Proof of relationship (a copy of the approved I-129F package form) 

Can my fiancé work in the US? 

Yes. After admission on a K-1 fiancé visa, he or she can apply for a work permit based on the K-1 visa, but this is pointless as it would only be valid for 90 days. In nearly every case, your new fiancé will marry you and apply for a green card via adjustment of status, which also gives the right to apply for a work permit. It will take a minimum of 3 months to receive it, and will be valid for one year. 

It is renewable. 

Can the fiancé visa be extended? 

No. The visa expires automatically after 90 days (non-extendable). Overstaying can lead to removal and affect future eligibility for immigration. 

If you marry your fiancé after the 90-day period, you can file a  Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.  

Are fiancé visas faster than spousal visas? 

Historically and generally, yes. However, in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and various Presidential proclamations affecting much of the globe, the benefit of K-1 visas has thinned considerably. It still makes sense in certain situations, but every case is different and it’s best to get a consultation before starting a process that might not be right for you. 

What are some of the risks with fiancé visas? 

I-129F petitions expire after 4 months. The visa has to issue in that time or else the petition will be returned to USCIS for revocation. In the past, consulates would revalidate the petition as necessary in case the visa couldn’t issue in 4 months, but in 2020, due to the pandemic and other reasons, that hasn’t been happening. So a new risk is created: that your petition will expire and will not be revalidated.  

Also, many people wrongly assume they can marry “unofficially” and just not tell the consular officer about it. Or, they assume an unofficial marriage means they are not legally married and hence eligible for a fiancé visa. That is not true. It is possible to not be married for immigration purposes but married to preclude a K-1 visa. Do not go through any marital rites – whether official, unofficial, religious, or customary – without talking to a lawyer first! 

You can bring your fiancé to the US and have the wedding of your dreams and start a new life together. Contact HMA for more information about the K-1 fiancé visa. 

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