The K1 visa is the US Visa that allows foreigners who are engaged to US citizens to apply for permanent residency in the United States.
The K1 Visa is the visa that allows couples that are engaged to meet in the US to perform the wedding ceremony.
This article goes through the US fiancé visa, what it is, its requirement its process and other important K1 visa process details.
WHAT IS K1 VISA?
This is a US immigrant visa issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a US citizen to gain access to the United States.
A K1 visa holder gets this visa so they can marry the US citizen within 90 days upon arrival in the US. The K1 fiancé visa is the first obligatory visa for a foreign citizen who is marrying a US citizen. Without this visa, the fiancé or fiancée of the US citizen will have trouble adjusting the status to become a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the US.
As evidence, the ceremony and legal marriage certificate should be performed and submitted to the Department of homeland security. The reason for this is to initiate the foreign citizen’s permanent move to the US to join their spouse.
CAN I APPLY FOR A K1 VISA?
To be eligible to acquire a K1 visa and travel to the US to marry a US citizen, there are a couple of fiancé visa requirements that you must fulfill. These criteria are put in place to avoid unofficial relationships and marriages whose only objective is to obtain green cards.
Therefore if you want to marry your fiancé in the US, you must fulfill these eligibility criteria:
- You must be able to prove that you had a relationship before the engagement.
- You plan on actually getting married while you are in the US on a K1 visa.
- The marriage will shall be performed according to the US law of the state where it will take place.
- You and the US citizen must have met at least once during the last two years(exceptions to this requirement will be granted on the condition that you can prove that the US citizen was unable to come and visit the foreign citizen fiancé due to extreme hardship. It can be proven on conditions of culture, customs, or other factors).
If these conditions aren’t fulfilled, you could be notified that you are not eligible for the K1 visa. There are several other reasons why you may not be granted the k1 visa. Some of which include:
- Involvement in criminal activities.eg drug trafficking.
- If your documents were falsified.
- If you have overstayed in the US on a previous visa or otherwise broken visa rules.
Apart from the requirements of the K1 visa applicant, there are other requirements for the US citizen who intend to marry the foreign citizen, as follows:
- You must be a US citizen.
- You intend to marry the foreign citizen with 90 days of them entering the US.
- Any previous marriages that you or your fiancé had have legally been terminated.
K1 VISA PROCESS
The fiancé visa application has a series of steps, which both the foreign citizen and the US citizen must follow. The US citizen must first initiate the application. To bring and sponsor their foreign citizen fiancé to the US, the US citizen must obtain permission from the US citizenship and immigration services (USCIS)
If this permission is granted by the USCIS, then the foreign citizen fiancé must then apply for the actual K1 visa.
Below are the steps you must follow to apply for a K1 visa:
FILE PETITION FOR ALIEN FIANCÉ
For the foreign fiancé to visit the US, the US citizen will first need to obtain permission from USCIS This is done by filing form I-129F, petition for alien fiancé to USCIS. The petition must be filled from within the US and not from abroad.
When the petition gets to USCIS, the officials will examine it and review the evidence of the relationship, if they plan on getting married, and whether they fulfill the eligibility criteria. If both parties fulfill the requirements, then the USCIS will approve the petition and send it to the national visa center (NVC).
The NVC then informs the couple and forwards it to the US embassy or consulate where the foreign citizen is expected to apply for the K1 visa. When a petition is approved, it is identified with its NVC case number. The foreign citizen isn’t allowed to apply for the K1 visa without the approval of the form I-129F.
APPLY FOR THE K1 VISA
After the approval of form I-129F, you can now commence your K1 visa application. This has to be completed by the foreign citizen in a US embassy or consulate in their home country.
COMPLETE FORM DS-160
Form DS-160 is an online nonimmigrant application form used for US nonimmigrant visas and in this case for the K1 visa too. This form will require you to give personal information including reasons why you plan on going to the US. You will get a confirmation page and coda after submitting it.
SCHEDULE THE US FIANCE VISA INTERVIEW
If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, your visa interview will be conducted. To complete the interview, you first need to schedule it. Your interview should be scheduled as soon as possible given that; you might have to wait for a long period if the embassy you are applying from has a high workload. When the interview is scheduled, you will get an interview schedule letter.
COMPLETE MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS
When traveling to the US and especially planning to apply for a US immigrant visa in the future, regardless of your age, you must have a licensed physician conduct the necessary medical examinations. The doctor must write a report stating any health issues. Since the fiancé will get married soon and ask for permanent residence, it is advisable to get the necessary US vaccines to complete this requirement.
COMPILE YOUR K1 VISA DOCUMENT FILE.
When you go to the US embassy for your interview, you must present the K1 visa required documents.
Here are the documents that should be submitted for a K1 visa:
- Valid passport for more than 6 months after your intended stay in the US.
- Two recent visa photographs according to the photo requirements
- Form DS-160 confirmation page and code
- Interview schedule letter
- Approved form I-129F
- Criminal background documents
- Divorce or death certificates in case of a previous marriage.
- Evidence of the relationship with the US citizen.
- Medical examination documents (and optional vaccination documents)
- Proof of payments of fees.
ATTEND A VISA INTERVIEW.
During the interview, you are required to show your documents and answer any questions the interview officials might have for you. Questions about your relationship with the US citizen as well as other details about your background shall also be asked by the interviewer.
Cost For K1 Visa: WHAT ARE THE K1 VISA FEES?
There are certain fiancé visa fees that need to be paid to obtain the K1 visa. The amounts vary yearly and also by country. This is so because the US has different relationships with different countries. But the official K1 visa embassy fee is $265. The main categories for which you will be asked to pay fees are as follows:
- Petition fee for the form I-129F(USCIS filing fee) which is $535
- Form DS-160 submission fee
- Medical examination fees $100-$500
- Other costs related to filing documentation and translation
K1 VISA TIMELINE: WHAT IS THE K1 VISA PROCESSING TIME?
The 1 visa processing time may vary from weeks to months. It has no definite processing time. It is more like to take a few months. If you are planning a wedding in the US, it is advisable to plan for any delays.
You can start making travel plans only after getting your K1 visa because if your visa is denied, you might not use any of the tickets purchased up to that point.
HOW LONG IS THE K1 VISA VALID?
The K1 visa is valid for four months but can be extended up to six months. Even though this visa might be valid for that length, the couple is still to get married within 90 days of the foreigner’s entry in the US.
CAN I WORK WITH A VALID K1 VISA?
Your US citizen fiancé must prove they can support you while you are in the US with a K1 visa. However, since you will get married and start the process to adjust your visa status to a permanent one, you can plan to start working work.
Initially, you must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) by filing form I-765 to USCIS. If approved, you are allowed to obtain a social security number (SSN) and even work for the period that your K1 visa is valid.
Can I Bring My Children To The US With A K1 Visa?
If the foreign citizen has unmarried children under 21 years old, they can accompany him/her to the US for the marriage. The children of theK1 visa holder can travel to the US with a valid K2 visa.
There is no need for US citizens to file petitions to the USCIS for the fiancé’s children, but they must be mentioned in the form I-129F. After the petition is approved, each one of the children must apply for the K2 visa individually. The children will then be allowed to equally obtain permanent residence after the marriage by filing for adjustment of status.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS AFTER MARRIAGE?
If the K1 visa is granted to the foreign citizen and the couple gets married in the US within 90 days, then the process to adjust status to a permanent one begins. By implication, the foreign citizen will become a permanent resident of the US by getting a spouse visa.
Filing form I-485 marks the beginning of this process. The foreign citizen will have a conditional status with a CR-1 visa within the first two years of marriage and can obtain an unconditional status with the IR-visa afterward.
WHAT IF COUPLES DON’T MARRY AFTER 90 DAYS?
If the K1 visa holder fails to get married after entering the US, they will be unable to extend their fiancé visas and should return to their home country. Failure to do so may lead to deportation and legal consequences.
k1 Visa Interview Questions
When preparing to apply for your k1 visa, it is best you know the types of questions you are going to be asked. When you know this information before time, you won’t be caught off-guard. Some of the questions are:
Questions About Your Relationship
- How did you meet?
- Where did you meet?
- Have you ever been to the US?
- When is the last time you have seen your fiance?
- What do you love most about each other?
- What made you fall in love?
- What is your fiance’s favorite food?
- Who does your fiance live with?
- How long have you known each other?
- What is your anniversary date when you met?
- Do you want children in the future?
Questions About Your Relationship History
- When will you leave for the US?
- How long have you known your fiance?
- When did you meet in person?
- Where did your fiance visit when he/she was here?
- When did your fiance propose?
- When are you going to have the wedding?
- Where will you have your wedding?
- Will your families attend the wedding?
- Will you have a honeymoon and where?
Questions About How Well You Know Each Other
- Does your fiance have any kids?
- Why was your fiance’s first marriage not working out? (if applicable)
- How many, how old, who do they live with?
- When did your fiance divorce? (if applicable)
- What is your fiance’s birthday?
- What is your birthday?
- Does your fiance’s have any brothers and sisters?
- Where do your fiance’s parents live?
- What does your fiance do for a living?
- Where does your fiance live?
- Where was your fiance born?
- Have you ever applied for a travel visa?
When the interview is over, you will be granted a k1 visa or be handed a piece of paper which says ‘221g’. The consular officer will return any original documents you provided and keep your passport. But if you were approved on the spot after the interview your k1 visa will be on your passport within a week or two.
But if you had been placed on administrative processing, your case will be under review and you may receive messages for further evidence or documents. It is advisable to respond to request quickly as fast as you can. You can also contact USCIS customer service once a month for updates until your k1 visa is approved.