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The Requirements of Applying for 
a K-1 Visa, and Maintaining K-1 Nonimmigrant Status

1. Starting a Procese to Bring Your Fiancé into the United States

Many immigrants come to U.S. in pursuit of the American dream, and will get their green cards first before starting the process of sponsoring their fiancé. It it usually less expensive and easier to do it this way, versus bringing everyone over all at once.

There is no predetermined time for a U.S. citizen to sponsor a fiancé. It depends on the fiancé’s current place of residence or immigration status or history. If your fiancé resides with you in U.S, and entered the country legally, he may already be eligible to adjust their status in the U.S. However, if your fiancé entered the U.S. illegally, they might have to go abroad through the consular process.

If you are living in the U.S. and you plan to marry an immigrant from another country, it could take six months or longer for a fiancé visa (K-1 visa) and another three to six months or longer to get a U.S. green card.

The United States citizen must file a Form I-129F visa petition (K-1 visa petition) - Petition for Alien Fiancé, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After the Form I-129F petition, the immigrant must submit their visa application form online and attend an interview at a local U.S. consulate. After the interview, the fiancé will know if it has been approved for a fiancé visa to enter the United States. The immigrant will then have 90 days in the U.S. to get married and apply for a green card at a local USCIS office.

2. The Eligibility of K-1 Visa

As a fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen, you are eligible for K-1 visa if:

1) you are legally eligible to marry under the laws of your country as well as the laws of the U.S.;

2) you will marry the petitioning U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the U.S.;

3) you intend to enter the U.S. solely to marry the U.S. citizen;

4) you have met the U.S. citizen within the last two years before filing for the K-1 fiancée visa. This requirement can be waived only if meeting your fiancée/fiancé in person would violate long-established customs, or would create extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen.

3. The Requirements of Applying for a K-1 Visa

In accordance with the U.S. immigration law, a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) should be filed by the petitioner who must be a U.S. citizen. The petition is filed in the U.S. with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). U.S. embassy or consulate may not file or approve the petition.

The approved visa petition is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate, and the petitioner is notified of the petition approval by the USCIS. It usually takes approximately 6-8 weeks for the petition to reach the U.S. embassy or consulate. 

The requirements for the K-1 fiancée visa include:

  • The alien fiancée/fiancé must be outside the U.S.;

  • The U.S. citizen must first file an From I-129F petition with the USCIS and have it approved before the alien fiancée/fiancé may apply for a K-1 visa;

  • Both the U.S. citizen and the fiancée/fiancé must remain unmarried until the arrival of the alien fiancée/fiancé in the U.S.; 

  • The alien fiancée/fiancé and U.S. citizen must have met personally at least once in the two years before the I-129F petition was filed.

The Immigrant Visa Unit at U.S. embassy or consulate will process the application for the K-1 visa. While no assurance can be given regarding the appointment date of the visa interview, the alien fiancée/fiancé should prepare for that appointment, and obtain the documents required for the visa application. 

The alien fiancée/fiancé must complete a medical examination in an embassy-approved medical facility. The forms and information regarding this are included in the information packet sent to the alien fiancée/fiancé.

4. How to Apply for K-1 Visa

The U.S. citizen must file a fiancé/fiancée visa application (K-1 visa application) using Form I-129F, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the K-1 visa application is approves by USCIS, the USCIS will forward the approved application documents to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Then U.S. embassy or consulate will then contact the alien beneficiary with information and eventually schedule an interview for a fiancé/fiancée visa. 

After the interview and issue of the K-1 visa, the the alien beneficiary has 90 days from entry into the U.S. to marry the U.S. citizen. The alien fiancé/fiancée must leave U.S. within this time if he or she does not want to marry the U.S. citizen.

5. Maintaining K-1 Nonimmigrant Status  

A K-1 visa is issued with a validity of 6 months. You have to enter the U.S. before the expiry date shown on your K-1 visa. After your arrival in the U.S., you have 90 days to get married or you must return to your home country. There is no legal way to extend the 90 day limit.

Once the marriage has taken place in the U.S., you must apply to adjust to permanent resident status. You would first generally obtain a two-year conditional residency, and would have to file additional paperwork later for the conditions to be lifted. The alien fiancée/fiancé also must marry the K-1 petitioner and no one else, in order to remain in the U.S.  

6. Applying for Work Authorization and Travel Outside of the U.S.

K-1 visa holders may accept employment in the U.S. by obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The USCIS normally take 90-120 days to process EAD applications and the authorized stay for a K-1 fiancée/fiancé is only 90 days, therefore the alien fiancée/fiancé may not receive the EAD in a timely manner, The EAD can only be valid for the period of authorized stay. If the alien fiancée/fiancé applies for adjustment to permanent resident status, the fiancée/fiancé can also apply for a employment authorization after the marriage.  

The K-1 and K-2 holders may enter the U.S. only one time with their K-1/K-2 visas. If they leave the U.S. before the marriage, they need to apply for a new visa to come back. If the alien fiancée/fiancé wants to leave and re-enter the U.S. after marriage and filing for adjustment of status, he or she must apply for Advance Parole to the USCIS office that serves the area where they live. The Advance Parole will allow him or her to return to the U.S. after traveling.





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