As the foreign fiancé(e) of a US citizen, you will need to secure the K1 visa to live with your new spouse in the States.
The K1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiancé(e) of a US citizen to enter the United States for up to 90 days for the purpose of getting married and, thereafter, to pursue adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident.
Commonly referred to as a fiancé(e) visa, the K1 visa is designed specifically for non-US nationals who are engaged to be married to a US citizen.
Following the marriage, the K1 visa holder can then apply for a green card to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
NNU Immigration are here to help!
NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa.
The rules surrounding the K1 visa require careful interpretation and application.
With exceptional knowledge and insight into the visa application processes, we advise non-US nationals on available US visa and immigration options, including the K1 visa, providing full support submitting applications to the relevant US authorities.
US immigration policy is undergoing a period of considerable upheaval; we can advise on the prevailing impact of any changes in US visa rules that may impact the entry routes available to you.
Do you have a question about a K1 visa?
K1 Visa FAQs
Do I need a K1 visa?
The K1 visa applies to couples who intend to marry shortly after they are reunited in the United States or after the K visa holder arrives in the US.
Furthermore, the intended marriage must be valid, meaning that both you and your fiancé(e) have a bona fide intent to establish a life together, whereby the marriage must not be for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.
No, the rules are clear that the B1 visa cannot be used for the purposes of carrying out actual labor work or gainful employment.
What are the eligibility criteria for the K1 visa?
You may be eligible to come to the United States under a K1 visa if you meet the following requirements:
- Your fiancé(e) is a US citizen.
- You and your fiancé(e) intend to marry one another within 90 days of your admission to the United States on a K1 visa.
- You and your fiancé(e) are both legally free to marry, ie; any previous marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment. The marriage must also be legally possible according to laws of the US state in which the marriage will take place, for example, in the context of age and blood ties.
- You and your fiancé(e) met each other in person at least once within the two year period immediately before any petition is filed by your US fiancé(e).
You may request a waiver of the last requirement if you can establish that either:
- Meeting in person would violate strict and long-established customs of your foreign culture or social practice, and that any and all aspects of the traditional arrangements have been or will be met in accordance with the custom or practice, or
- The requirement to meet your US fiancé(e) in person would result in extreme hardship to them.
What does the K1 visa allow?
Under the K1 visa you are permitted to come to the United States for a period of up to 90 days for the purpose of marrying your US fiancé(e).
During this time, however, you are obliged to complete all legal requirements and ceremonial obligations for your marriage.
If you marry within 90 days of being admitted to the United States as a K1 visa holder, you may then apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United States. This is known as a green card.
K1 visa status automatically expires after 90 days and cannot be extended, whereby typically you must leave the United States at the end of the 90 days if you do not marry. Any failure to do so can risk you being in violation of US immigration law, resulting in deportation.
What about the children of the K1 visa holder?
If you are coming to the United States as a K1 visa holder, you may also apply for a K2 visa on behalf of any dependant children to accompany or follow-to-join you once you are in the United States. Your US fiancé(e) will not need to file a separate petition to classify the child as a K nonimmigrant.
In the same way, any dependent children of a K3 visa holder can apply for a K4 visa. In either case, however, the child must be unmarried and under 21 years.
Please note, if you have children with your US fiancé(e), they might have acquired US citizenship through them.
How do I apply for a K1 visa?
To apply for a K1 visa your US fiancé(e) will need to file a Form I-129F, Petition For Alien Fiancé(e). This is the first step to obtaining a K1 visa.
This form will require information relating to you, your US fiancé(e), the nature of your relationship, any children, any previous spouses, and so forth.
The petition must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee. The filing fee for Form I-129F is $535 and this is non-refundable.
Further, at the time of filing, your US fiancé(e) must submit all necessary evidence and supporting documentation. If s/he fails to submit the required evidence, USCIS may reject or deny the petition.
The documentation will include the following, although this list is not exhaustive:
- evidence of US citizenship, for example, a copy of their birth certificate showing they were born in the United States or a copy of their naturalization or citizenship certificate issued by USCIS.
- evidence of termination of previous marriages, for example, divorce decree, annulment order or death certificate for any prior spouse.
- evidence of your intention to marry in 90 days of entry, for example, a signed statement from you and your US fiancé(e).
- evidence of any in-person meetings, for example, airline tickets.
- a colour passport style photograph of you, as well as a colour passport style photo of your US fiancé(e).
If your US fiancée is able to establish eligibility, and the petition is approved, this will be forwarded to the US Embassy or consulate where you currently reside. It is here that you will submit your application for a K1 visa using online form DS-160, and where you will schedule an interview with a consular officer.
Please note that the I-129F petition is only valid for four months from the date of approval by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The fee for filing your K visa application form following approval of the petition is $265.
You will be required to attend your K1 visa interview with various documents in support, including but not limited to the confirmation page of your Form DS-160, your passport valid for travel for at least six months, and evidence that your relationship with your US fiancé(e) is genuine.
If granted, your K1 visa will be valid for up to six months for a single entry to the United States. If, however, the consular officer does not find the relationship with your US fiancé(e) to be bona fide, you will not be issued with a K1 visa.
Please note, the grant of a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. This will ultimately be determined by a Customs and Border Protection official at the port of entry in the United States, so you should always travel with documentation to prove your intentions.
What are the alternatives to the K1 visa?
If you have already married, plan to marry outside the United States or you are already residing legally in the United States, you will not be eligible for a K1 visa.
Instead you may need to apply for a different type of visa or seek to adjust your status from within the US.
By way of example, if you have already got married but are still living abroad, your US spouse will need to file a petition on your behalf for you to immigrate to the US using Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for your foreign spouse who is abroad.
In this way, you will be able to apply for what’s known as a K3 visa pending a decision by USCIS on Form I-130, thereby shortening the amount of time you need to spend apart from your loved one. That said, as USCIS now takes less time to adjudicate the Form I-130, the current need for K3 visas are fairly rare.