Also known as the “fiancé visa,” the K1 visa allows a person to enter the United States for a period of 90 days with the intent of marrying their fiancée who is a citizen of the United States. After the marriage takes place, the noncitizen will have their status changed to permanent resident.
The process begins when the person who is a citizen of the United States fills out form I-129F with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Upon approval, the petition then moves on to the National Visa Center, and finally to a US Embassy overseas.
The foreign fiancé will need to successfully complete an interview with the US Embassy as well as offer the required documentation before the visa will be granted. Once the K1 visa has been issued, a period of 6 months is given for the foreign fiancée to travel to the United States before the 90 days begins.
It is highly suggested that couples going through this k1 visa process seek help from an immigration attorney.
K1 Visa Requirements
1. One of the fiancées involved must be a citizen of the United States. The process cannot take place if the fiancée is a US permanent resident.
2. An in-person meeting must have occurred between the two fiancées within two years of filing for the K1 visa. There are certain circumstances where this requirement can be waived, including cultural reasons. An experienced attorney will know exactly how to handle such a situation.
3. Marriage must take place within 90 days of the foreign fiancée arriving in the United States. If a wedding does not occur, the foreign fiancée must return to their home country.
4. A visa will not be granted if the foreign fiancée holds a criminal conviction or another such issue that would prevent immigration.
The K1 Visa Timeline
While the complete amount of time it will take to obtain a K1 visa varies by the embassy, in general, the entire process should be expected to be finished somewhere between 4 and 7 months.
The US citizen fiancé should receive a notice of receipt within 2-3 weeks of filing the I-129F form. It can typically be expected to take about three months to complete the USCIS processing. At the completion of this stage, a notice will be sent that the request for a visa has been sent to the National Visa Center.
The National Visa Center acts as a middleman between the USCIS and overseas embassies. Nothing is required of either fiancé at this point in the process, which could take up to a month to complete.
When the case reaches the embassy, the foreign fiancée will need to complete a medical exam, biometrics, and interview. In addition, a few forms must be filed. This part of the process could take anywhere from three weeks to two months.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
Although an attorney is not required to file for a K1 visa, an experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that all paperwork is filled out correctly and all documents are submitted, which can help to reduce the number of delays experienced throughout the process. Because each case is different, a lawyer could help to spot any issues quickly.