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What is a Fiancé (K-1) Visa?

Thanks to a popular reality show, many people have heard about Fiancé (or K-1) visas, in which a U.S. citizen can sponsor a fiancé from another country.

Due to the internet and ease of travel today, the likelihood of finding love overseas is not that farfetched. You can meet someone from anywhere in the world on a dating website and, increasingly, people do. An estimated 366 million people worldwide use dating websites to meet potential partners (25 Online Dating Statistics, Facts & Trends for 2023 – cloudwards.net).

After the arrival of a fiancé(e) from overseas, the couple has only 90 days in which to marry before the K-1 visa expires. After marriage, the holder of the K-1 visa must apply for a marriage based green card.

A green card is also known as a permanent resident card. This identity document is granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department (USCIS) to show that an immigrant has permanent residency status.

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Eligibility for Fiancé Visas

In order to qualify for a K-1 visa, the following criteria must be met:

  • The fiancé has to be sponsored by a partner who is a United States citizen. If your partner has a green card and is a permanent resident, they cannot sponsor someone for a K-1 visa.
  • The fiancé has to be free to marry, with proof of dissolution of any prior marriage.
  • The couple must plan to marry within 90 days of arrival in the United States.
  • The couple must have met in person at least once within the previous two years.
  • The U.S. partner must meet the income requirements for the visa (see Federal Poverty Guidelines for Immigration Explained)

Steps for Applying for a Fiancé Visa

Once it is established that you meet the above criteria, you can begin the application process. The steps are as follows:

  1. First step is to fill out and file “Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé (e),” with your area USCIS office. You will have to pay the appropriate filing fees and submit copies of any supporting documents required. USCIS will perform background checks and review the application.
  2. USCIS will review your application and let you know if they need anything else from you in order to approve your petition.
  3. The USCIS will either approve the petition or deny it. If they deny it, they will advise why. If the USCIS approves the petition, they then send it on to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC) for next steps.
  4. The NVC issues a case number and forwards the petition to the consulate where your fiancé lives.
  5. The Department of State conducts background checks on the applicant and will conduct a visa interview. Your Fiancé(e) must bring the required documentation to the interview at the consulate near where they live. This will involve paperwork and a consular interview before they grant the K-1 nonimmigrant visa. If at this point, they do not feel the relationship is legitimate, the visa application can be denied. If the visa is approved, then the fiancé is permitted to travel to the United States one time within the next six months.

Upon Arrival in the United States

Assuming your fiancé is granted entry into the United States by customs (who can allow or deny entry to anyone at their discretion, even with a visa), you and your fiancé will have 90 days to marry each other. After marrying, your fiancé can apply for a green card to adjust their status.

Children of Fiancés

Children of K-1 eligible immigrants who are unmarried and under the age of 21 years old may be eligible for K-2 visas to accompany their parent to the U.S. or come after them, even if they are not biologically the child of the U.S. citizen sponsor. Later, in the United States, they may also apply for a Green Card when their parent does (or after).

Work Eligibility

Once someone is admitted to the United States on a K-1 visa, they may apply right away to receive permission to work. If they apply immediately, their work permit will be effective for 90 days. Once they apply for their Green Card, they can apply for a work permit that authorizes them in longer increments to work legally in the U.S.

What Happens if You Don’t Get Married in 90 days?

K-1 and K-2 visas expire after 90 days if the couple does not marry within that time frame. They cannot be extended, and the fiancé will have to return to their country or be in violation of United States law. If someone is deported, it could hurt their chances of entering the country legally at a later date. If you do get married after the 90-day period, there is a different form that can be used to petition for the non-citizen spouse.

FAQs about Fiancé (K-1) Visas

How long does it take to process a K-1 visa on average?

12-18 months on average

What is the USCIS filing fee for a K-1 visa?

$800

What is the approval rate for K-1 visas?

About 75% of applications currently get approved

What Are Some Tips for Getting My K-1 Visa Approved?

Once you meet all of the requirements listed above, the brunt of the burden is proving to the USCIS officer that you are in a legitimate relationship and operating in good faith.

You will need to show that not only are you in a real relationship with sincere intent to marry, but you will also need proof that you have met in person within the past two years. Possible evidence you could gather as proof might include: dated photos, flight itineraries or hotel reservation receipts, messages between your partner and yourself, and even written testimony from friends.

Be sure that nothing you put on social media is contradictory to anything you are telling the USCIS officer.

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The Importance of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer

Navigating the immigration process can be overwhelming and confusing. Mistakes can set your paperwork back for months, if not more. An experienced immigration lawyer can make all the difference. We know the paperwork required regardless of your particular circumstances and understand what the USCIS is looking for during interviews. In the event of any denials, your immigration attorney can step in as your advocate and dispute the denial as well as correct any issues and get you back on track to obtaining your green card or citizenship.

The experienced team of immigration law professionals at Siri & Glimstad LLP understands the importance of this process and has the tools and knowledge to guide you through it as efficiently as possible.

At Siri & Glimstad LLP, we have represented thousands of clients in immigration matters. Our motto is simple – Dedication, Efficiency, and Commitment to the end goal.

We also handle other types of immigration cases including:

If you or a loved one need help with any issues concerning immigration, please contact us by filling in the form or call us directly at 212-532-1091. Hablamos español.


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