What is a K-1 Visa?

What is a K-1 Visa?

The fiance(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is issued to the foreign-citizen fiance(e) of a United States citizen. It allows for the foreign-citizen fiance(e) to travel to the United States and marry their United States citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign citizen then applies for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since the fiance(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the United States, they must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. K-2 visas are issued to eligible children of K-1 visa applicants.

What is a fiance(e)?

Under the United States immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiance(e) of a United States citizen who is the recipient of an approved petition for Alien Fiance(e), Form I-129F, and who has been issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States to marry their United States citizen fiance(e). The United States citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must both be legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must remain so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to the laws of the U.S. state where the marriage will take place.

Generally, the foreign-citizen fiance(e) and U.S. citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years. However, USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement based on extreme hardship for the United States sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiance(e), or, for example, if it is contrary to their cultural customs for a man and woman to meet before marriage.

Filing the petition

The first step the United States citizen sponsor must take is to file Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiance(e)) with the USCIS office that serves the area where the sponsor resides. After the petition is approved, it is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) where a case number is assigned, the petition is further sent to the United States Embassy or Consulate of the country the sponsor’s fiance(e) lives once the supporting documents have been uploaded and accepted by NVC and security checks have been performed.

Applying for a visa

After the petition has been filed, the NVC corresponds with the sponsor’s attorney regarding the sending of the petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once the Embassy or Consulate receives this letter, they inform both the sponsor and the fiance(e) about the actions they need to take to apply for a K-1 visa and prepare for the interview.

Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants may apply for K-2 visas. Separate applications must be submitted for each K visa applicant, and each K visa applicant must pay the visa application fee.

Required documentation

The foreign-citizen fiance(e) and eligible children applying for K-2 visas are required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:

  • Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the United States
  • Birth certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both the U.S. citizen sponsor and the foreign-citizen fiance(e)
  • Police certificates from the foreign-citizen fiance(e)’s present country of residence and all countries where they have lived for six months or more since the age of 16. Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older
  • Medical examination(s)
  • Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may also be requested)
  • Two 2×2 photographs
  • Evidence of relationship with the U.S. citizen fiance(e)
  • Payment or fees

The consular officer may also ask for additional information like photographs and other proof that the relationship is genuine. Documents in foreign languages, other than the language of the country where the interview will take place, should be translated. Applicants must take clear copies of civil documents and translations, such as birth and divorce certificates, to the visa interview. Both original documents and translations will be returned. Keep in mind that there may also be other embassy-specific instructions.

Medical examination and vaccination requirements

In preparing for the interview, Applicants will need to schedule and complete a medical examination. Before the issuance of an immigrant or K visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. Instructions regarding medical examinations will be provided by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, including information on authorized panel physicians.

K visa applicants are encouraged to get the vaccinations required under the United States immigration law for immigrant visa applicants.  Applicants are encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination as they will be required to do so when adjusting status to that of legal permanent resident following the marriage.

Proof of financial support and Affidavit of Support forms

During the visa interview, Applicants will be required to present evidence to the consular officer that they can financially support themselves and that they will not become a public charge in the United States. Consular Officer may request that  Form I-134, Affidavit of Support be submitted by the U.S. citizen fiance(e).

The U.S. citizen fiance(e) will need to submit Form I-864 to USCIS with the application for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident following the marriage.

Do the same income requirements apply to Form I-134 as apply to Form I-864?

No, they do not. The 125% of the federal poverty guideline minimum income requirement, the most recent year’s tax return, and other requirements only apply when Form I-864 is needed. Applicants presenting Form I-134 will need to show that their U.S. sponsor’s income is 100% of the federal poverty guideline.

Fees

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing an Alien Fiance(e) Petition, Form I-129F
  • Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-160 (required for each K visa applicant)
  • Medical examination (required for each K visa applicant; costs vary from post to post)
  • Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents required for the visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.), and travel expenses to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Costs may vary from case to case and country to country
  • Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status

Can my petition be extended if it expires?

The I-129F petition is valid for 4 months from the date of approval by USCIS. However, U.S. consular posts can extend the validity of the petition if it expires before visa processing is completed.

Ineligibilities for visas

Some certain conditions and activities may make the applicant ineligible for a visa. They include but are not limited to drug trafficking, overstaying a previous visa, and submitting fraudulent documents. If one is found to be ineligible for a visa, the Consular Officer will inform them whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility that is necessary.

How long does it take to get my K visa?

Once the United States Embassy or Consulate receives your case from NVC, the time it takes to process it varies from case to case. Sometimes K-1 Applicants don’t follow the instructions carefully or supply incomplete information so the case gets delayed. Also, some visa applications require additional administrative processing after the applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer, which takes additional time.

What happens after I receive a K-1 fiance(e) visa?

Once you are granted a K-1 visa, the Consular Officer will give you your passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents you provided along with other documents prepared by the United States Embassy or Consulate. Only the DHS immigration officer is allowed to open this packet when you enter the United States. Keep in mind that, as the K-1 visa holder, you must enter the United States either before or at the same time as any of your qualifying children holding K-2 visas.

You can apply for a single admission at a U.S. port-of-entry within the validity of the visa, which is a maximum of six months from the date of issuance. You must marry your U.S. citizen fiance(e) within 90 days of your entry into the United States.

Does my U.S. citizen fiance(e) need to file separate petitions for my children?

No. Your eligible children may apply for K-2 visas based on the approval of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e), that your U.S. citizen fiance(e) filed on your behalf.  It is important that your U.S. citizen fiance(e) list your child(ren) in the I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e). However, separate visa applications must be submitted for each K-2 visa applicant, and each applicant must pay the K visa application fee.

After you get married, your children will need to file for adjustment of status separately from you, as they cannot be included in your application.

The U.S. immigration law requires a child to be unmarried. To file for adjustment of status for your child following your marriage, the child’s stepchild relationship with your spouse must be created before the child reaches the age of 18.

Are my children required to travel with me to the United States?

Your children may accompany you to the United States or travel later (follow-to-join), but it must be done within the validity of their K-2 visas. Separate petitions are not required if the children accompany or follow to join you within one year from the date of issuance of your K-1 visa. If they are to travel later than one year from the date of issuance, they will not be eligible for K-2 visas, and separate immigrant visa petitions will be required. If you have adjusted your status to that of a permanent resident while your child still has a valid K-2 visa, they may travel using that visa.

 

For more information, you can contact immigration lawyer Chicago.