K1 Visa Process & Requirements
Updated on 11/15/2023
You have met the person you want to marry, and now you need to negotiate your way through the K-1 visa process to do it. You must take the necessary steps required of all couples. Here we give you a general idea about what the K-1 visa process and requirements are which will help you fulfill your dreams as early as possible.
What Is the K-1 Visa Process?
The K-1 visa process is considered a non-immigrant visa that allows a foreign fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the country for 90 days to marry. It is filed by the United States-based intended spouse, who becomes the petitioner for the foreign fiancé now called the beneficiary. If the couple does not marry within the 90-day time frame or the engagement is broken, the intended foreign spouse must leave the country. To begin the K-1 visa process, the petitioner and beneficiary must meet several requirements.
K-1 Visa Requirements
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) strictly enforces the K-1 visa requirements. The basic requirements are listed below; however, each case is different and additional items may be needed:
- Both future spouses must be legally free to marry. If a previous marriage existed for either person, documentation of a divorce or a prior spouse’s death must be available. This proof includes a death certificate or divorce documents.
- Both same-sex marriages and traditional unions are covered under this visa. This holds true even if the foreign fiancé’s country of origin does not permit same-sex marriages.
- One in-person meeting between the engaged individuals must have occurred within two years before the K-1 application. This requirement may be waived if they were unable to meet due to extraordinary circumstances.
- The relationship’s legitimacy can be proven in a variety of ways. This proof can be a history of e-mails, photos, travel plans and/or documentation given by friends or family members. If trips are used to show the continuation of the relationship over time, it is important to be able to produce entry/departure stamps on the passport and travel tickets to and from the U.S. or a foreign country.
- The fiancé who lives in the United States must be a U.S. citizen. If they use a green card to live in the United States, they will not be able to sponsor a K-1 visa holder.
- The sponsoring U.S. citizen needs to sign an I-134 Declaration of Financial Support to show that he or she has financial means equal to the U.S. federal poverty guidelines and meanwhile is responsible for the financial support of the foreign fiancé after entry to the United States.
- It is important that the upcoming marriage happens within the 90-day period. This period begins on the day of foreign fiancé’s entry into the United States.
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How to Start the K-1 Visa Process?
The first step to start the K-1 visa process is to file an I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) by the petitioner with USCIS. Generally, USCIS will require at least 60 days before form I-129F is approved. Sometimes, processing time may require 12 to 18 months. Delays may occur when the USCIS requires additional documentation or information.
All parts of the I-129F form must be completed, and it must be signed. The I-129F petition cannot be completed at USCIS’s website. Instead, it is necessary to print it out and send it and other required documentation to the designated USCIS location by mail.
Once the I-129F form is approved, the USCIS will send a notice of approval. Then the foreign beneficiary can start the nonimmigrant visa application process to apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, which can be done online. When this is completed, the beneficiary will be notified of an upcoming interview at the closest U.S. embassy or consulate in his or her home country or the country where he or she has permanent residency. It can take about four to six weeks to be completed this step.
Once the K-1nonimmigrant visa is granted by the U.S. consulate or embassy, the foreign beneficiary has four months to come to the United States.
Documents That Accompany the I-129F Petition
The following are documents that must be sent in along with the I-129F petition:
- Proof of citizenship: This can be a copy of birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, copy of naturalization certificate, copy of Form FS-240, which is a consular report of birth abroad (CRBA), a copy of an unexpired U.S. passport, or a statement issued by a U.S. consular officer that affirms the applicant is a U.S. citizen.
- Proof that prior marriages were legally terminated (if applicable): This must be attached and can include a death certificate, a divorce decree or an annulment.
- Photographs: A photograph of both partners must be provided. It should be a standard, U.S. passport-sized color photograph taken no more than 30 days before applying.
- Proof of name change: The petitioner should provide a proof of name change with the application if this applies.
- Evidence of meeting fiancé(e) in person within the last two years or evidence to prove they were unable to meet due to extraordinary circumstances.
- Evidence of bona fide intent to marry within 90 Days of arrival: Letter of Intent of both of them should be sufficient.
Additional documentation might be needed if either of them has any criminal record or other unusual situations.
If any of the documentation papers are in a foreign language, an English translation must also be submitted. The translation should be accompanied by a certification from the translator to certify that the translation is accurate and complete. The translator must also certify that they are competent to provide this translation.
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After Entry to the U.S. with K-1 visa and Marriage Occurs
After entry to the U.S. with the K-1 visa and the marriage occurs, the K-1 visa holder needs to apply for a green card through I-485 adjustment of status application. You may learn more about it in our article Adjust Status after Entry on K1 Visa.
Cost of a K-1 Fiancé Visa to Green Card
The cost of the K-1 visa to green card is a total fee of $2,025. The breakdown is as follows:
- Form I-129F: This is filed with the USCIS and costs $535.
- Application for K-1 Visa: This fee is paid to the consulate and is $265.
- Form I-485: This is referred to as the adjustment of status application for green card after marriage happens upon entry with a K-1 visa. It should be filed with USCIS. This also includes the biometrics fee and costs $1,225.
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