K-1 Fiancé Visas

The K-1 visa permits a foreign national fiancé of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days of admission to the country.

If you plan to marry a foreign national outside the United States or your fiancé is already residing legally in the United States, you do not need to file for a fiancé visa. Instead, once your fiancé marries you and becomes your spouse, he or she may apply for an immigrant visa if they are abroad or adjustment of status to Permanent Residency if they are in the United States and are otherwise eligible for U.S. Permanent Residency.

Eligibility Requirements

To file an I-129F petition for a K-1 fiancé visa with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you must show that:

  • You (the petitioner) are a U.S. citizen.
  • You intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States.
  • You and your fiancé are both free to marry and any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • You met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions to the requirement of having met in person:
    1. If meeting prior to your marriage ceremony would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé's foreign culture or social practice.
    2. If meeting prior to your marriage would result in extreme hardship to you.

Consular Processing

After the USCIS approves the petition, it sends the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), which in turn forwards it to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the fiancé will be applying a K-1 visa. At this stage, the fiancé will need to provide certain documents, such as a birth certificate and police clearance certificate, and fill out and submit an online Form DS-160. A medical examination is also required, as well as a visa application interview with a U.S. Consular Officer who will examine the evidence that the fiancé submits to prove the authenticity of the relationship, and who will interview the visa applicant to determine his or her eligibility for the visa.

After the Fiancé Visa is Issued

The K-1 visa allows your fiancé to enter the United States for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place. Once you marry, your spouse may apply for permanent residence and remain in the United States while the USCIS processes the application.

Children of Fiancés

If your fiancé has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 non-immigrant visa may be available to him or her. The names of your fiancé’s children should be included in your K-1 petition.

What happens if we do not marry within 90 days?

The fiancé's K-1 status automatically expires after 90 days and cannot be extended. If you do not marry with 90 days, or your fiancé does marry you within 90 days but does not file an I-485 Application for Permanent Residence with the USCIS within that same 90-day period, he or she will be unlawfully present in the United States and will be subject to being placed into removal (deportation) proceedings.

We want to make plans for our wedding. How long will this process take?

The USCIS processes fiancé petitions in the order they are received. Processing times for I-129F petitions have varied a good deal over the years, going from as little as three weeks to as long as eight months. After the USCIS has approved the petition, consular processing for an application for a K-1 visa can usually be expected to be completed within approximately two to four months.

Please contact us for additional information on the criteria for U.S. K-1 fiancé visas and how an immigration attorney can help you with the process.

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