Are you in a long-distance relationship and considering applying for a K1 fiancé(e) visa? This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the K1 visa process, from gathering the required documents to attending your visa interview. Let’s dive in!
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What Is a K1 Visa?
The K1 visa was created to reduce international couples’ time apart before marriage. It allows U.S. citizens to bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the United States so they can get married here rather than going through a lengthy marriage process overseas.
If you’re a U.S. citizen engaged to a foreign national, the K1 visa may be perfect for you. Keep reading to learn more about the K- visa process and whether you can apply for one.
What is the K1 Visa Process?
If you’re a U.S. citizen engaged to a foreign national, you can begin the K1 visa process by petitioning U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once your petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. The NVC will then send your case to the U.S. embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) lives.
Your fiancé(e) will be required to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, during which a consular officer will determine whether they’re eligible for a K1 visa. If the visa is approved, your fiancé(e) will be issued a visa and can travel to the United States. Once they arrive, you’ll have 90 days to get married. After getting married, your spouse can then apply for permanent residence (a “green card”).
Am I Eligible? What Are the Requirements?
These are the eligibility requirements for a K1 visa:
- The sponsoring partner must be a U.S. citizen. U.S. green card holders (permanent residents) are not eligible to sponsor a fiancé(e) for a K1 visa.
- Both partners must be eligible to marry.
- You must prove that you have met your fiancé(e) in person at least once within the past two years (except in cases of extreme hardship or where in-person meetings would violate cultural, religious, or social norms).
- You must prove the legitimacy of your relationship with evidence such as photos, flight itineraries, hotel reservations, written correspondence, etc.
- Both partners must provide a statement of their intent to get married to each other within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must show that they have enough income or assets to support the sponsored fiancé(e) during their time in the United States.
- The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must be able to show that they have a place for the sponsored fiancé(e) to live in the United States.
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I’m Eligible! Now What? The First Step: Form I-129F
The first step in the K1 visa process is for the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) to file Form I-129F, the Petition for Alien fiancé(e), with USCIS. The primary purpose of this form is to prove the validity of the relationship.
You must include the following supporting documents as evidence:
- Proof of citizenship for the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) (copy of a passport, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate).
- Proof that any previous marriages have ended (if either partner has been married in the past).
- Color, passport-style photos of each fiancé(e). These must be taken within 30 days of filing Form I-129F.
- Two sworn statements, written by and signed by each partner, with a brief description of the nature of the relationship and an intent to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States. It’s generally best to provide the original signed statements and keep copies for your records.
- Document proof of meeting in person at least once within the two years before filing Form I-129F (flight itineraries, hotel itineraries, photos, passport stamps, etc.).
- Documents showing your relationship is real and genuine (photos, correspondence, sworn statements from friends and family, etc.).
The following does not apply to everyone:
- Proof of legal name change (if applicable).
- Evidence for IMBRA waiver (if necessary; it’s rarely necessary).
- Completed Form G-28 (only if you are represented by an attorney or an accredited representative).
- Certified English translations of any non-English documents (if applicable).
You must send a check to the Department of Homeland Security for $535 along with your packet, and don’t forget to sign your form! USCIS will reject any application packet with unsigned forms or missing/incorrect fees.
Want to make sure you don’t miss a thing?
After filing your form and supporting documents, USCIS will typically send a Notice of Action (NOA1) within 30 days. This indicates that they have received your petition. You don’t have to do anything at this stage.
Typically, between 8 and 10 months after mailing your petition, you will receive a second Notice of Action (NOA2) in the mail indicating USCIS has approved, denied, or is requesting additional evidence for your petition.
If you receive an RFE (Request For Evidence), you must respond to it with the requested evidence. Make sure you include all requested evidence at once.
If approved, you do nothing at this step. You’re ready for the next step!
The Second Step: National Visa Center & Form DS-160
The Department of State now takes over your case. When the I-129F form has been approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will mail you a letter when it sends your case to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The sponsored fiancé(e) must now complete the State Department’s DS-160 form online (the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application”). This is the actual K1 visa application.
At this stage, if the sponsored fiancé(e) has children eligible for K-2 visas, they can apply. Separate applications must be submitted for each applicant, and the visa application fee must be paid for each application ($265.00 per application).
Don’t forget to print the confirmation page once you have submitted the form online – you’ll bring this to your interview!
The State Department will require the following documents:
Sponsored fiancé(e) Required Documents:
- Two passport-style photos
- Birth certificate
- Valid, unexpired passport
- Police clearance obtained from all countries where you’ve lived for more than six months since the age of 16
- Sealed medical exam form (obtained through a State Department authorized physician abroad)
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s)
U.S. Citizen fiancé(e) Required Documents
- Affidavit of support (Form I-134)
- Most recent tax returns
- Proof of relationship (copy of the approved I-129F package originally filed with USCIS)
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s)
Completing the K1 Visa Process: The Interview
This is it. It’s interview time!
The visa interview is held at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the sponsored fiancé(e)’s home country, and it generally takes place 4–6 weeks after the initial notification from the embassy.
The interviewing officer will generally decide on the case the same day of the interview or shortly after. If they want more evidence, they’ll submit it to the consulate.
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Visa is Approved! Pack Your Bags!
Once the visa has been issued, it is valid for no more than 6 months from the date of approval of the initial I-129F form. The visa is also only valid for a single entry into the United States — meaning that the sponsored fiancé(e) may not leave and re-enter on that visa.
You must get married within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé(e)’s arrival, or they will lose their K1 status. If you decide not to get married, the sponsored partner will not be permitted to stay in the United States and must leave the country immediately.
You are now on your way to starting a new life with the one you love! The K1 visa process may seem daunting initially, but as long as you are prepared and have all the required documents, it will go smoothly. Just remember to stay calm and enjoy this special time in your life.
And don’t forget to sign up for Our Love Visa’s free planning tools to make the process more effortless.
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