What is a K-1 Nonimmigrant Visa and Who Can Apply?
The United States (US) offers a variety of visas to those wishing to enter the country and eventually gain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. LPR status holders receive green cards that allow them to stay in the US permanently and can lead to naturalization. To be eligible for any visa, an incoming foreign national must meet one of the available visa categories. A K-1 nonimmigrant visa, also known as a fiancé(e) visa, is available for fiancé(e)s of US citizens. In addition to the fiancé(e) visa, unmarried children under 21 of foreign fiancé(e)s may travel with their parent via a K-2 nonimmigrant visa. Several rules and procedures exist regarding K-1 and K-2 nonimmigrant visas, and it can be tricky to sort them out. An experienced immigration attorney near you can ensure that all paperwork is processed accurately and promptly.
Who should apply?
Any US citizen who wishes to bring their fiancé(e) to the US for marriage must act as a citizen sponsor. A sponsor will petition for their fiancé(e), allowing them to apply for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa. The US citizen must initiate the process with their petition; if approved, this will trigger the rest of the visa application process. This visa does not apply if you wish to marry internationally, you have already married by other means, or your fiancé(e) is currently living in the United States legally (e.g., has a green card).
It is important to note that standard bars to eligibility, such as suspected ties to terrorism, criminal records, or violation of a previous visa, apply to K-1 fiancé(e) visas. If your fiancé(e) may have a bar to eligibility, talk to a skilled immigration attorney as soon as possible.
When should you apply?
Visa applications can take several months, so it is wise to begin the process as soon as possible. Once received, the K-1 fiancé(e) visa is temporary and recipients should make arrangements to enter the US within six months. After entrance to the United States, the visa is only valid for an additional 90 days. If your fiancé(e) enters the US and you do not marry within 90 days, the visa will expire automatically. In this case extension is not possible – your fiancé(e) will have to return to their native country and begin the process again.
How do you apply?
There are two distinct steps to apply for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa. First, a US citizen must petition as a sponsor. At that time, the sponsor will submit Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This petition may not be filed internationally. As a citizen sponsor, you must be able to prove US citizenship with the appropriate documentation, such as a valid passport. Once the USCIS has reviewed your petition and sent to the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate, your fiancé(e) may formally apply for their K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Additionally, your fiancé(e) would concurrently apply for K-2 nonimmigrant visas for any unmarried children under 21.
In order to apply, your fiancé(e) must submit the following to the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate:
- Evidence of online submission of Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- A valid passport
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of previous spouses of both parties, if applicable
- Police certificates
- Medical examination
- Evidence of financial support
- Two (2) 2×2 photographs
- Evidence of relationship with US citizen sponsor
- Required fees
The State Department elaborates on details and requirements for each item in the above list here. During the visa interview, you’ll submit evidence and any other necessary materials. Once the visa interview concludes and all materials are submitted, a decision will be rendered. Waiting times can be lengthy – status updates regarding your case can be found here.
As discussed above, K-1 fiancé(e) visas are temporary and expire automatically after 90 days. To avoid heartache, ensure that you marry within that time frame. After marriage has occurred, your new spouse can register for a green card through marriage. For those spouses who apply for a green card less than 2 years after marriage, the USCIS will grant “conditional permanent resident status.” This initial, conditional green card is valid for 2 years. You can find all the eligibility requirements for green cards through family on the USCIS’s website.
Davis & Associates Wants to Help
Are you in the process of applying for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa? Do you have questions about the application requirements or are you worried about making an error? The expert attorneys at Davis & Associates are ready to help you and your loved one start a new life in America. With over 30 years of combined experience in immigration law, you’ll to receive the best possible counsel and legal representation. Call their Austin, Texas, office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.