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K-1 Fiancé Visa Checklist

K-1 Visa
When couples’ love crosses international borders, they can face additional challenges in their relationship, including needing to deal with immigration laws. In the United States, the K-1 visa program is one option for engaged couples where one partner is a United States citizen.

What is the K-1 visa program?

The K-1 visa allows foreign citizens who are engaged to a citizen of the United States to come to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage. The non-immigrant visa allows non-U.S. citizens to enter the United States to marry within 90 days of entry and then apply for permanent resident status after the marriage.
Same-sex couples also qualify for a K-1 visa, even if the home country of the foreign-citizen partner does not recognize such unions.
If the fiancé or fiancée of an American citizen has children, their eligible minor children may be able to apply for K-2 visas.

How does someone qualify for the program?

To qualify for a K-1 visa, a foreign national must be engaged to an American citizen and must be living outside the U.S. Foreign fiancées and fiancés of U.S. citizens who are already living lawfully in the United States are not eligible for a K-1 visa. They will generally seek an adjustment of status, instead. K-1 visas are also not for couples who intend to marry outside the United States or who have already married.
The person who is sponsoring their foreign-citizen partner to come to the United States must also meet some K-1 visa requirements. For example, the sponsoring partner must be a U.S citizen and not a permanent resident and must be legally able to marry. This means that neither partner are currently married to anyone else and have divorce documents, death certificates, or other documentation to show that any previous marriages have been terminated.
To qualify, a couple must also have met at least once in the two years before they apply for a K-1 visa. For some couples, it is difficult to meet, and in these cases a waiver is possible. This waiver is generally possible if you can demonstrate that the meeting would be in defiance of your partner’s cultural or social practices or would create significant hardship to the U.S. citizen partner in the relationship.

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What is the process like?

The U.S citizen in the relationship will be responsible for much of the paperwork and application process. The process will require multiple steps.

  •  The U.S. citizen must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), which will involve sending supporting documents and paying the filing fees.
  • Once you receive approval of the petition, your fiancé(e) can apply to enter the United States. This will involve an immigration interview, a medical exam, and filing of the online DS-160 form.
  •  Once approval has been granted, your partner must enter the United States within four months of the date your I-129F petition was approved.
  • Within 90 days of your fiancé(e) arriving in the United States, you must be married.
Since there are only 90 days to get ready and marry, it is important to time the marriage carefully. Once a K-1 visa expires, the non-U.S. partner will need to return to their home country if the marriage has not taken place. During the visa application process, it is not advisable for the non-U.S. partner to travel to the United States, lest authorities think the couple is trying to go around the immigration system. While waiting for the visa, it is a good idea to create some provisional plans so the wedding can come together within 90 days of entry into the United States.

A K-1 visa extension, also known as a visa revalidation, is possible if a couple simply runs out of time. Once USCIS approves an I-129F petition, it is valid for four months. The validity of the petition can be extended for four months at a time by a consular officer to allow more time for visa processing.

What are the specific steps and pieces of documentation needed?

When filing for a K-1 visa, you’ll want to have all your paperwork ready to prove your eligibility, your relationship, and your current single status. The instructions for the I-129F petition will list what you need, and you may wish to have additional documentation on hand in case the USCIS requests further information.

  • Annulment decrees, death certificates, or divorce papers if either partner was married before
  • Evidence of U.S citizenship for the sponsoring partner
  • One recent and eligible color passport-style photo of each partner
  • Documentation of any name change
  • Evidence you intend to marry within 90 days of entry into the United States
  • Evidence you have met at least once in the past two years or evidence you qualify for a waiver

In some cases, applications will also require an International Marriage Broker Regulation Act waiver. This waiver may be needed in situations where a U.S. sponsor has sponsored two or more fiancé(e)s in the past or has had an I-129F petition approved within two years. These waivers and the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act are intended to protect foreign-born partners from abuse and harm.

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    k-1 Fiance Visa Checklist
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    k-1 Fiance Visa Checklist
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    If you are engaged to someone who is a foreign national, contact Farmer Law to find out about visas to get married in the U.S.
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    Farmerlaw
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