What is a K-1 visa?
A K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa issued by the United States government that allows a U.S. citizen to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the United States for the purpose of getting married. The K-1 visa is also known as the “fiancé(e) visa.” This visa is intended for couples who have a genuine intention to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S. After the marriage takes place, the foreign spouse can then apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the U.S.
To qualify for a K-1 visa, certain eligibility criteria need to be met, including:
- The petitioner (U.S. citizen) and beneficiary (foreign fiancé(e)) must have a genuine intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e)’s entry to the U.S.
- Both parties must be legally free to marry and any previous marriages must be legally terminated.
- The couple must have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the K-1 visa petition, with some exceptions for cases of extreme hardship or cultural traditions.
The K-1 visa process involves several steps, including:
- The U.S. citizen petitioner files a Form I-129F petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Once the petition is approved, it is sent to the U.S. consulate or embassy in the foreign fiancé(e)’s home country.
- The foreign fiancé(e) goes through a visa application process at the U.S. consulate or embassy, including an interview and medical examination.
- If the visa is approved, the foreign fiancé(e) can travel to the U.S.
- Upon arrival in the U.S., the couple has 90 days to get married.
- After marriage, the foreign spouse can apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident.
It’s important to note that the K-1 visa process can be complex and requires careful attention to detail. Consulting with an immigration attorney or thoroughly researching the process is recommended to ensure a successful application.
What forms must be filed to apply for a K-1 visa?
To apply for a K-1 visa, several forms need to be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other relevant government agencies. Here are the main forms involved in the K-1 visa application process:
- Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): This is the initial petition that the U.S. citizen petitioner (the sponsor) files with USCIS to establish the intent to marry a foreign fiancé(e) and bring them to the United States.
- Form G-325A, Biographic Information (not required as of June 1, 2017): While this form was previously required to provide biographical information about both the petitioner and the beneficiary, it is no longer required as of June 1, 2017.
- Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application: This form is completed by the foreign fiancé(e) online and is submitted to the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country as part of the K-1 visa application process.
- Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application: In some cases, the foreign fiancé(e) may need to complete this form in addition to Form DS-160. Check with the specific U.S. consulate or embassy for their requirements.
- Form DS-156K, Nonimmigrant Fiancé(e) Visa Application: This form is specifically for K-1 visa applicants and is used to provide information about the intending marriage, previous marriages, and more.
- Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application: This form is required for male K visa applicants aged 16 to 45 to provide additional information about their military service.
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support: This form is typically required to show that the U.S. citizen petitioner has the financial means to support the foreign fiancé(e) once they arrive in the United States.
- Various supporting documents: In addition to the forms mentioned above, both the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign fiancé(e) will need to provide various supporting documents such as passport photos, birth certificates, divorce or death certificates (if applicable), evidence of the relationship, and more.
It’s important to note that immigration processes and forms can change over time, so always refer to the USCIS website or the website of the specific U.S. consulate or embassy where the application will be processed for the most up-to-date information and instructions. Additionally, working with an immigration attorney or consultant can help ensure that all forms are filled out correctly and that the application process goes smoothly.
Form I-129F checklist of required documents
When filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), to initiate the K-1 visa process, you’ll need to include various supporting documents along with the form to establish your eligibility and provide evidence of your relationship. While USCIS may update its requirements, here’s a general checklist of the documents that are typically required to accompany Form I-129F:
- Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e): Fill out and sign the form accurately and completely.
- G-325A Biographic Information (if required): As of June 1, 2017, this form is no longer required for K-1 visa petitions. However, check the latest USCIS instructions to confirm whether it’s needed.
- Passport Photos: Include passport-style photos for both the U.S. citizen petitioner and the foreign fiancé(e) adhering to USCIS photo specifications.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship: Provide a copy of the U.S. citizen petitioner’s proof of citizenship (e.g., passport, birth certificate, certificate of naturalization).
- Proof of Intention to Marry: Include evidence that both you and your fiancé(e) have a genuine intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s entry to the U.S. This can include correspondence, engagement photos, or plans for the wedding.
- Proof of Meeting in Person: Submit documents proving that you and your fiancé(e) have met in person at least once within the two years before filing the petition. This can include travel itineraries, boarding passes, photos together, etc.
- Passport Copy of Fiancé(e): Include a copy of your fiancé(e)’s passport, which establishes their identity and nationality.
- Proof of Termination of Previous Marriages: If either you or your fiancé(e) were previously married, provide documents that prove the legal termination of those marriages, such as divorce decrees or death certificates.
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support: Include this form filled out by the U.S. citizen petitioner to demonstrate the financial ability to support the fiancé(e) during their stay in the U.S.
- Supporting Evidence: Include any other supporting documents that demonstrate the authenticity of your relationship, such as correspondence, phone records, engagement ring receipt, joint financial accounts, and more.
- Filing Fee: Include the required filing fee with your Form I-129F. The fee amount may change, so check the USCIS website for the current fee.
- Cover Letter: Consider including a cover letter summarizing the contents of your petition package and explaining the relationship.
Remember to carefully review the USCIS website and instructions for the most current information on required documents and filing procedures. It’s recommended to keep copies of all documents you submit for your records. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, consider consulting an immigration attorney for guidance.