K-1 Visa (Fiance Visa) – Complete Step By Step Guide

What is a K-1 Visa?

K-1 fiance visa photo
source: visajourney.com

The K-1 visa refers to a special kind of visa applicable only for foreign nationals. However, as the name says, a K-1 fiance visa is for foreign citizens who are going to marry a US citizen. As per the prescribed rules for this type of non-immigrant visa, the marriage between the US petitioner and the visa beneficiary must occur within 90 days. This period should be counted from the date of entry.

The K 1 visa came into the limelight with the hands of Congress. Moreover, this category of visa aims at making the entry of foreign fiances faster into America. However, after the marriage, such a fiancé can apply for permanent citizenship. As the validity period of the K-1 visa is only for a short duration, the applicant must qualify for some of the major requirements. The petitioner is a US citizen and the non-immigrant fiancé is the beneficiary of the said visa.

Eligibility for K-1 Visa

Before applying for the visa K 1, every applicant must confirm that he or she is eligible for the visa. Here are the general requirements for any K-1 visa applicant. You need to qualify every point given over here for obtaining such a K-1 fiancé visa.

  1. The petitioner must hold permanent citizenship of the United States.
  2. As on the date of filing the respective petition for a K 1 fiance visa, both the beneficiary and the petitioner must be free to marry each other. The eligibility criteria include any person who is divorced, unmarried, widowed, or annulled.
  3. Within the preceding two years of filing the K-1 visa petition, the two individuals must have met each other in person.

How to Apply for the K-1 Visa? Step By Step Process:

Form I-129F determines the application process rules and regulations for visa K 1. The foreign fiancé must abide by all the instructions mentioned over here. It is to avoid any disputes in obtaining the visa. (Download I-129F Form)

The steps are mentioned hereunder;-

Step 1: File the I-129F petition

The United States citizen sponsor (petitioner) needs to file the I-129F petition first for getting the K-1 fiance visa. This petition is for the Alien Fiance. It must be addressed to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) as per the area of your locality. You can consult the addresses and then finally submit the petition. Submitting such a petition is not permissible at USCIS Board’s office, US Embassy or Consulate.

Along with Form I-129F, the petitioner must also submit the G-325A (download G-325A Form) and the relevant documentation. The necessary documentation in this regard include the following;-

  • Passport size photographs of both the individuals (beneficiary and petitioner)
  • Separate statements from both the parties regarding Intent To Marry each other
  • Proof of citizenship for the US fiancé.
  • $340 must be paid to the “Department of Homeland Security”
  • Evidence of meeting in person at least two years before the filing of the application
  • Evidence of cancellation of all the previous marriages, if any. If they are not in English, the supporting documents must be translated and then certified.
  • Evidence that the beneficiary and the petitioner continue to be in a romantic relationship at the current date.

Step 2: NVC processing

After the USCIS authorities process the petition filed in I-129F, it gets into the hands of the National Visa Center. It will process the petition I-129F further and finally forward the same to the respective American consulate abroad.

The processing time of I-129F may be 6-8 weeks.

On receiving the approved petition, the appropriate consulate will finally contact the consulate of the country of citizenship of the beneficiary. The foreign fiancé will thus obtain all the instructions regarding the application of the actual visa to enter the US for marriage purposes. Furthermore, the foreign fiancé must submit the original documents. In case they are not in English, the beneficiary needs to submit the translated version to get the K-1 visa.

The eligible children of the K-1 visa applicant can apply for the K-2 visa after the parent gets the approval for visa K 1.

Step 3: File Form DS-160 and Prepare for an Interview

After confirmation and validation of the K 1 fiance visa, it is time for the interview. Before the interview, the beneficiary must submit Form DS-160, completed in all aspects. At the beginning of filling up this form, you can select a different Consulate or embassy, than the one at which you finally give the interview.

Generally, it takes approximately three to five weeks to process the DS-160 form. After the completion of this process, the applicant will get a positive reply from the Consulate by email or through the post. The applicant will thus get the necessary document of the confirmation. It may take around two working days to deliver the K-1 visa.

For completion of the DS-160 interview, you must come with the following documents;-

  • Your Passport
  • Travel Itinerary
  • National ID number from the home country
  • Social Security Number or US Taxpayer ID

Step 4: Get Visa Enter in USA and Marriage

The K-1 visa has a validity period of a maximum of 180 days. Therefore, the foreign individual must enter the United States within 180 days of the issuance of the visa. The beneficiary must not worry about the K-1 visa processing time. In case of too much delay, he/she can contact the respective executives of the Visa Processing Center in the US.

Within 90 days of entrance in the USA, the beneficiary must get married to the US petitioner. Failing this date, the visa can get canceled. After this, the foreigner will be eligible to apply for permanent citizenship. Moreover, the individual will also get a permit for traveling and work by proper application.

What Documents Required For K-1 Visa Application?

Both the sponsor and the foreign national must provide a few documents during their K 1 visa application. The required documents for both parties are mentioned hereunder:

Documents from the US Citizen Fiance: 

  1. Affidavit of Support (the I-129F petition)
  2. Tax returns of the recent period
  3. Proof of romantic relationship with the respective beneficiary (must file the copy of I-129F already filed)

Documents from the Other Country Fiance:

  1. Valid birth certificate of the concerned foreign beneficiary
  2. Two recent colored photographs (passport-size)
  3. A valid unexpired passport
  4. Sealed form of a medical examination conducted by the State Department
  5. Police Clearance Certificate from the country/ all countries of residence

What is the k-1 visa cost?

For getting the K-1 visa, one will not have to pay the whole amount at once. Instead, they will have to pay in a few steps. The applicant’s first payment is required while filing the I-129F petition. The government’s fee is 535 dollars. After that, they can pay in various ways, such as by money order, using a cashier’s cheque, or by using a personal cheque. If paying by cheque, the applicant must make sure to pay the bill to the U.S Department of Homeland Security.

Applicant’s next payment is required during their medical check-up exam. Now, this cost may vary depending on the provider. Typically, the medical exam costs around 200 dollars.

Applicants must pay 265 dollars as their last payment during the interview of the actual K 1 fiance visa. The instructions of this payment may change depending upon the applicant’s home country. All information regarding costs will be included in the embassy’s interview notice. So, make sure to check the embassy’s interview notice properly. 

Adding these, the K-1 visa fee is roughly around 1000 dollars. Now, this K-1 visa cost does not include additional charges such as transportation costs.

What is the k-1 visa processing time:

There is no fixed k 1 visa processing time for getting your K-1 visa. Usually, the time varies from person to person depending upon the applicant’s circumstances. To get your K 1 fiance visa faster, you must provide accurate personal details such as your address and phone numbers. Once your K-1 visa application is received by the US Embassy, the embassy will process it. It is important to remember that some k 1 visa applications require additional time to process after the applicant’s interview. 

Reason Why Does Your K-1 Visa Application Get Rejected

Every year nearly 40% of the total K 1 visa gets rejected by the United States Embassy. Now, your application might get rejected for lots of reasons. Lack of Planning and insincerity can also lead to rejection of your k-1 visa. Some of the k1 visa denial reasons are mentioned below.

  • You might have provided the incorrect personal details.
  • You might not have translated your original foreign language certificates.
  • One of the most common k-1 visa denial reasons is not enough evidence of your relationship. A consular might also check your relationship’s background or your social media.
  • Not answering the k-1 visa interview questions correctly may get your application rejected. Both parties should prepare the interview questions well and try to learn each other’s language.

Keep in mind that once the interview consular has become suspicious of your relationship, it is hard to recover from that. So the consular might also take a look at how long your relationship is. 

What to do if USCIS rejects K-1 visa application?

It is not impossible to overcome your k-1 visa denial. The key is to act quickly. Now, an applicant can file Form I-290B to appeal the denial. It is essential to file your appeal before the time allotted by the USCIS expires. You can also contact an immigration attorney to guide you through the process. (download Form I-290B)

Another option is to apply for a new k 1 visa form. This time you can be more diligent and prepare your k 1 visa interview questions. Applicants may consider this if they are not in a hurry. But few applicants just can not successfully get their K-1 visa. If you are one of them, then one can get married internationally and apply for a different visa as well. 

What is the validity of the K1 visa?

K 1 visa is a unique visa that only allows applicants to come into the US once after the completion of k-1 visa process. The visa is valid for 6 months. So, after getting the visa, one must arrive in the United States in less than 6 month by all means. Now if the applicant fails to arrive in this mentioned time, then there is no way to extend the validity of the k 1 visa. Then, the applicant must get married to their partners in under 90 days. If for some reason, the couple does not get married, then the immigrant must leave the United States at once. 

Is it Possible to Work on a Valid K1 Visa?

The answer is that you can work in the United States but not on your k 1 visa. After entering the United States, one can apply for work authorization. In that case, they will need to file Form I-765. Usually, USCIS takes about 1-2 months to process this and gives a work permit valid for 90 days. Applicants can also apply for a permanent residency by filing (download) Form I-485 and include Form I-765 with that. With this, one can acquire a one-year work permit. But if you are looking for an even longer-term permit, then you should apply for a marriage green card. 

How Do You Apply for a Social Security Number Card for K-1 Visa?

A social security number is important for many things such as getting a new job, collecting social security benefits, and getting few government services. If you are entering the U.S with your k 1 fiancé visa, then the government will not automatically give you your social security number card.

One might apply for their social security number card online by creating an account at ssa.gov/myaccount/ or you might visit a social security office.

The documents required to show are-

  • Your passport along with the k-1 visa
  • Permanent resident card or employment authorization documents.
  • Your original birth certificate
  • Your original marriage certificate

You should apply for your social security number as soon as you get into the country. But it is recommended to apply for your social security number after you get married to your partner.

What Should You Do After You Get Married on a K-1 Visa?

After the completion of one’s K-1 fiance visa timeline, one must first apply for their social security card number after getting married. Without this number you will not be able to apply for a job, open a bank account or apply for a driver’s license. An employer will always ask for the SS number during employment. However, keep in mind that only this number card is not enough for you to work legally.

What happens if a couple doesn’t marry within 90 days of getting a K-1 visa?

A couple needs to get married within 90 days of getting their k 1 visa. If the couple decides not to marry, then the visa will not be valid anymore. The sponsored partner will have to leave the United States right away. If the person refuses to leave, then they might be violating the United States immigration law.

How to apply for a green card after entering the U.S. with a K-1 visa?

After getting your k-1 visa, first, you need to get married in under 90 days. Then, you are free to apply for a marriage green card. Getting this card will also help you to work legally in the US for a long time. To start your green card application, first file Form I-485. The whole process to get your green card may take from a few months to a few years. Your relation with the US citizen who petitioned on your behalf along with which USCIS Service Centre you applied to may also affect the time.  The k-1 visa change of status may also affect your eligibility to file a green card. 

You are eligible to apply for a green card with a k-1 fiance visa if you meet the following requirements. Check them out. 

  • You have properly filed Form I-485. (download form)
  • You are physically present in the US as you file your Form I-485.
  • After 90 days of getting your K-1 visa, you have married your partner.
  • You must ensure that you have no criminal records under your name.
  • You are the United States, lawful permanent resident.

K-1 Fiance Visa FAQs:

What does the k-1 visa look like? 

The k-1 visa looks just like any other visa issued by the USCIS. It will have your picture, name, and visa number.

Can I work on a K-1 visa?

You can’t work on your K-1 visa. Instead, after your k 1 visa timeline is completed and getting the visa you can apply for different kinds of work permits. The detailed process of how to apply for a work permit is mentioned above.

How long before I can work on a K-1 visa?

After the K-1 visa checklist is done, one must apply for an employment authorization document by filing Form I-765. Only after that working in the United States is permitted. 

Can I extend my K-1 visa?

A counselor’s office may be able to extend your I-129F petition period before the proceedings of k 1 visa. But, one can’t extend their k-1 visa. And if they do not get married under the valid period, that person must leave the United States immediately. 

Can I study on a k-1 visa?

Yes, a k-1 visa holder can go to school and study in the United States.

Can I travel on a k-1 visa?

With a proper K 1 visa, one is allowed to travel to the United States and marry their United States citizen sponsor. This visa does not allow one to leave the country or re-enter. However, one can travel within the US.

Can I travel to the US while my k1 visa is being processed?

Yes, you certainly can. There is no law that states that one can not travel to the US while their K-1 visa is being processed.

Can I bring my children to the United States with me on a K-1 visa?

Yes, you can bring your childrenBut in that case, they must be unmarried and be under the age of 21. They may apply for a k 2 visa after the approval of Form I-129F.

What happens if the k-1 visa expires before the immigrant can get into the U.S?

If the k-1 visa expires before the immigrant can move to the US, then they must apply for a new k 1 visa.

How to fill out the k-1 visa forms correctly?

Applicants must fill the k-1 visa form with accurate information. The k 1 visa requirements are – passport size photographs of parties, original birth certificate, medical examination report, valid unexpired passport, and so on. This article has already briefed the details on how to fill the k-1 visa form correctly. Kindly refer to that.

What are the income requirements for a K-1 Fiance visa?

According to the 2020 poverty guidelines, the annual income of the petitioner must be at least $17,240 for a household of two. If the annual income is less than the mentioned amount, they will not be able to petition for the k 1 visa. In addition, the k 1 visa fee is around 1000 dollars.

How long after the interview will I get the visa k-1?

After the k-1 visa timeline is completed, it usually takes 10 to 15 business days for your visa to get ready. However, in some cases, the counselor may need additional time even after the interview.

How to change the status of k-1 visa?

Adjusting your status of k 1 visa is necessary to get your green card. You will need to file Form I-485. The form usually covers topics such as personal information, address history, immigration history, visa category, employment history, marital history, criminal history, security information, disability information, and so on. You can check your k-1 visa status here.

Where can I check the update for my k-1 visa?

You can check the status of your k-1 visa by visiting the US Citizenship and Immigration Service website. There, you will have to put your accurate application number and you will get to see your k-1 visa updates.

How to locate the visa number on a k-1 visa?

The visa number is usually an eight-digit red number. It is printed on the lower right side of newer visa documents. On that note, over the years, the place of the number on the car has changed. 

Do I need to give my social security number when I apply for a k-1 visa?

You do not need to have a social security number while applying for a k 1 visa. However, after getting your k-1 visa, you must travel to the United States under the validity period. Then, you will have to apply for a social security number. Otherwise, you will not be able to work or open a bank account under your name.  

Is a K-1 visa an immigrant or non-immigrant visa?

A K 1 fiance visa is a non-immigrant visa. Foreign nationals, who have this visa, are allowed to enter the United States only one time. They can not stay in the US permanently or leave the country with this visa.

How different is a K-1 visa from a B-1 visa?

A B-1 visa allows citizens of certain countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days. With a B-1 one can enter the US for doing business activities. A k 1 visa allows foreign nationals to come into the US and get married to a US citizen. A k-1 visa holder can not leave the country while a B-1 visa holder can. Now, one can also get married with a B-1 visa only if the marriage is bona fide. It is considered marriage fraud if one enters the country with a B-1 visa with the sole purpose of getting married.

How is a K-1 Visa different from a marriage green card?

A K-1 visa is very different from a marriage green card. The K-1 visa allows immigrants to come to the US and get married to a US citizen. One can apply for a marriage green card after getting married to a US citizen. This card allows one to work legally in the United States.

What to do after getting my K-1 visa?

After getting your k-1 visa, your consular will give back your passport with the visa. He will give back your documents in a sealed packet. Now, applicants should not open this packet. Only the DHS immigration official is allowed to open this sealed packet of your civil documents. They will open it when you enter the US. 

It is essential to keep in mind that your k 1 visa stays valid for six months. So after getting your visa, you can apply for one entry into the US for under six months. However, it would be best if you got married under 90 days after arriving.

Can I leave the United States with my K-1 visa?

No. You can not leave the United States with your K-1 visa. This fiancé visa only allows one-time entry into the US to foreign nationals. However, you can travel anywhere in the country with your K-1 visa.

What are K-1 visa interview questions?

In the K 1 visa interview, you might be asked many questions regarding your purpose of visit and your relationship. Few of the questions are very common. Few sample topics of questions are mentioned hereunder;

  • Your name and birthday.
  • Your birth-place.
  • Your Nationality.
  • If you have visited the US before,
  • If you have, then on what visa. 
  • If you have had a divorce.
  • The reason for your divorce.
  • If you have children.

If you have applied for a k-1 visa before.

If you have any criminal history.

Now, these are only a few topics that we have mentioned. You might get asked various questions regarding your partner, like when and how you two met. It is very important to prepare your questions appropriately.

What Should I Prepare for a k-1 visa interview?

To prepare for your k-1 visa interview, you must first do your research. One must know the probable questions you might get asked. Then, you will have to prepare the questions thoroughly. Finally, you must prove that your relationship is genuine, or else the consular might think that you are committing marriage fraud.

How can I pass my k-1 visa interview?

Passing your K-1 visa interview is challenging but not complicated. Every year around 40% of fiancé visa applications get rejected. Most are rejected for not passing the interview. You will have to convince your consular that your relationship is genuine. For that, applicants should prepare the interview questions well. You will have to be diligent in your preparations if you want to pass the k 1 visa interview.

How long does the k 1 visa interview take?

The k 1 visa interview time may vary from person to person, depending on their circumstances. Usually, it can take about 15 to 30 minutes.

What documents do I need for the k 1 visa interview?

There are few documents applicants must take to their k 1 visa interview. The necessary documents are mentioned below;

  • Your DS-160 Confirmation.
  • Your Form I-129F petition.
  • The Form I-797 application
  • Your valid passport.
  • Your Medical examination report.
  • Your Form I-134 application.
  • Your passport sized recent photos.
  • Your original Birth certificate.
  • Your divorce or death certificate in case of any previous spouse.
  • Police certificate of your present country.
  • Evidence of relationship with petitioner.
  • Your fees for visa.

You must remember to bring all the necessary documents properly. You can also call your embassy to know what other documents you will have to show. Remember that if you are unable to display any required document that will lead to immediate rejection of your visa. Hence, it is very important to properly take your documents before going to the k 1 visa interview.

Are k 1 visas being processed in 2021?

Yes, K-1 visas are being processed in 2021. However, due to the pandemic and lower number of active staff, the average processing time might be a bit slower in 2021 compared to previous years.

What is the k 1 visa interview format?

There is no fixed format for k-1 visa interviews. The format of the interview might vary from embassy to embassy. There are less than 100 categorized questions that you might need to answer. These questions might involve you, your fiancé, your relation and your plans. In total, the interview might last 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

Can I apply for a k-1 visa during Covid?

Yes, you can still apply for a k 1 visa during Covid. As of now, for most cases, no COVID-19 restrictions were applied for filing a new I-129F petition.

How long after the k-1 visa can I work?

You can enter the United States with your k-1 visa. Then, you will have to marry your partner in under 90 days. If you wish to work in these 90 days, then you must apply to USCIS for your employment authorization right away. However, it is not recommended to apply right away. You can apply for a marriage green card after your marriage. This will allow you to work long-term.

How long can you stay in the US with a k-1 visa?

A k 1 visa is valid only for 6 months. Under 6 months you must visit the US. One can not stay permanently with a k-1 visa. This visa only allows one-time entry into the country. After arrival, one must get married in under 90 days to stay permanently in the United States. Again, coming to the US with a k-1 visa and not getting married under 90 days is considered a fraud.

Can my fiancé visit while he/she is waiting for a k 1 visa?

Yes. Your fiancé can visit while waiting for their k 1 visa. But they can not stay permanently with you. Your fiancé can make a temporary visit to the United States with a B-1/B-2 visa. Keep in mind that if your fiancé gets married with their travel visa, then they might commit marriage fraud. Then they will have to leave the country at once.

After getting a k-1 visa how long will one have to stay married for a green card?

You can apply for a marriage green card as soon as you get married. But, if it has not been 2 years since your marriage, then USCIS will issue you a conditional marriage green card. Only after 2 years of marriage, you can apply for a permanent green card.

The immigration law of the United States can be pretty hard to follow. The whole process is strict because many visa frauds happen in the United States every year. Getting the k 1 visa can be complicated but it is not impossible. One must take help from an excellent immigration attorney. With the proper guidance of an attorney, you can get your visa on the first try. Even if you fail on your first try, try not to lose hope and apply again. Follow the above guidelines to get your k-1 visa today.