What is a K1 visa?
The K1 is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the foreign-born fiancé(es) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States and marry their partner. As a U.S. citizen, you can bring your spouse to the United States, get married, and live together permanently in the country.
You must get married within 90 days of your fiancé’s arrival in the United States. Once you become a married couple, your fiancé(es) (now spouse) can change their status to become a lawful permanent resident.
How does the K1 visa work?
Green card holders are not eligible to use the K1 visa, which is only available to US citizens. Additionally, it is intended for engaged (single) couples who want to tie the knot in the US in three months. The K1 visa is not appropriate for those who are married or who intend to marry outside of the US. You could be eligible for the K3 spousal visa, which is a comparable visa. Your K3 spouse’s dependant kid may enter the country with a K4 visa if the child is yours.
As a non-immigrant visa, the K1 is temporary and only useful for a short time. However, it is one of the quickest and easiest routes to obtaining permanent residency and subsequently citizenship.
To get the K1 visa, both spouses must complete a number of application processes. The overseas fiancé will obtain the visa upon acceptance of her application, which she will utilize to enter the country. Your foreign partner could have to depart the country if you don’t tie the knot within ninety days of their arrival. This is due to the fact that the visa cannot be renewed and automatically expires after 90 days.
How to apply for a K1?
There are five primary steps in the K1 visa application process, which begin with the visa application and end with the green card application.
The procedure will start with the US citizen applying for a K1 visa to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Sending the Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(s) to the local USCIS office is how you do this. The goal is to prove that you and your foreign partner are in a real relationship and that you plan to tie the knot shortly. You’ll provide pertinent documentation to support your claim that your connection is sincere. In the event that your I-129F application is accepted, the National Visa Center (NVC) will receive your case from USCIS.
The second phase of the application will be completed with the NVC. Upon receiving your case, the NVC will notify your fiancé(es) to submit an official visa application. You will also be asked to schedule an interview with a consular officer at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your country of residence. After successfully passing the application process and visa interview, the foreign spouse may enter the United States before the visa expires. Once in the United States, you can get married at any time within 90 days.
K1 visa application: from fiancé(e) visa to green card:
Below is the breakdown of the steps involved:
Step 1: Petition for Fiance(s) – USCIS
- You (U.S. citizen) complete Form I-129F by following the instructions on the form
- USCIS will review your petition and supporting documents submitted. They may email you to request further evidence, which you must provide within a set time frame.
- If you establish a genuine relationship, USCIS will approve your I-129F petition
- USCIS will send the approved Form I-129 petition to the Department of State (DOS) NVC.
Step 2: Visa Application – NVC
- The NVC will forward the approved petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate where your fiancé resides.
- The embassy or consulate notifies you and your fiancé(es) when the visa interview will take place.
- Your fiancé files an application for a K-1 visa and brings the required documents and forms to the visa interview. The official visa application form is the DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
The consular officer determines whether your fiancé(e) is eligible for the visa.
If the consular officer approves the request and grants the visa, the K-1 visa is valid for up to 6 months for a single entry into the United States.
Phase 3: Border Inspection – CBP
Your fiance must apply for entrance at the port of entry after arriving in the country on a K-1 visa. The K-1 visa does not ensure entrance into the United States, just like any other visa. Whether or not to accept your fiancé(e) will be decided by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
Step 4: Wedding
If CBP grants admission to your fiancé, you and your fiancé must marry within 90 days.
Step 5: Adjusting Green Card Status – USCIS
- Your fiancé(es) may now seek to be considered for a marriage-based green card if you are married within 90 days. Form I-485, which is the Application for Registration of Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status, is what they will submit.
- After reviewing your Form I-485, USCIS may need more supporting documentation.
- You and your spouse may be asked to appear for an interview.
- If your marriage is less than 2 years old at the time of the I-485 application, USCIS will issue your spouse conditional permanent resident status with a green card valid for 2 years.
Ninety days before to the green card’s two-year expiration, your spouse will request that the requirements be lifted. In the event that their request to have the condition removed is granted, USCIS will provide them permanent resident status and a green card that is good for ten years, renewable as many as they choose.
Three years after becoming a permanent resident, your spouse can seek to become a citizen if that is their desire.
Eligibility criteria for a K1 visa:
One of the engaged partners must be a US citizen in order to qualify for a K1 visa. However, there are other requirements that must be met to obtain a visa.
a)The applicant must be a US citizen
As a candidate seeking to enter the country with your fiancé, you are required by law to provide documentation of your citizenship. This might be your birth certificate, citizenship certificate, or US passport.
b)You must meet the definition of “boyfriend(s)”
According to US immigration law, both parties must fit the description of “fiancé(e)e.” This suggests that in order to be eligible to apply for a K-1 visa, the foreign partner and US citizen must have been free to marry at the time of application and must have continued to be. This indicates that you are not married at this time.
Before submitting an application for a K-1 visa, all previous marriages held by either spouse must have been lawfully ended (by divorce, death, or annulment). In addition, the marriage must be permissible under the laws of the US state in which it will be consummated.
Generally, partners have to have had in-person meetings within the previous 24 months. USCIS may, however, make an exemption to this rule if specific circumstances—such as severe hardship or cultural differences—have made it impossible for the two partners to meet in person.
c)You must meet the income requirements for the K1 visa
It is necessary for you (a citizen of the United States) to provide proof of the sufficient income needed to support both you and your fiancé(es). The Affidavit of Support, Form I-134, is what you’ll file. USCIS will assess if you fulfill this condition based on the data on the form.
This resembles the Affidavit of Support filed on Form I-864 for a family green card application. On the other hand, the I-134 only requires 100% of the federal poverty minimum income, but the I-864 demands a minimum of 125%. This is to make sure that, with your present salary, you can both live over the poverty line.
Children of foreign boyfriend(s):
A kid under the age of 21 who is not married and whose parents are foreign fiancé(es) may be eligible to enter the country on a K2 visa. To bring them into the country, you must include their names in your Form I-129F application. After you and your fiancé tie the knot, they could also submit an application for a green card. Note that in order for them to be able to apply for a green card, they must continue to be single.
How much does the K-1 visa cost?
You will have to pay for the following services:
- Form I-129F application fee: $535
- Consulate handling fee (at the embassy or consulate): $265
- Medical examination: (varies by location)
- Form I-485: $1,140
- Biometrics fee: $85
Is it possible to extend the K1 visa?
No, the K1 visa cannot be extended. Expires automatically after 90 days. Generally speaking, your foreign fiancé(s) has to depart the country if you are not married after 90 days. Should they choose not to go, it will be deemed a breach of US immigration law, perhaps resulting in their deportation. It could also have an impact on other immigration benefits and their future ability to enter the US.
Can I work while on a K1 visa?
You can work while on a K1 visa if you are a foreign national engaged to a US citizen. You must fill out Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, in order to apply for a work permit so that you can work.
Can I travel outside the United States on a K1 visa?
Unfortunately, the K1 is a single entry visa. You can only enter the US port of entry once and after that it will no longer be useful for travel purposes.
You might be eligible to apply for a parole advance, which is a type of travel document. However, it is likely that your K1 visa will have expired by the time they process it. Your best option is to file for early parole along with your green card application since you can be married within 90 days.
Advance parole requests are typically processed within 120 days. So, if you need to travel abroad before receiving your green card, you can use your parole advance as a travel document.
Does the K1 visa give the right to citizenship?
Yes, US citizenship is attainable with a K1 visa. Obtaining a K1 visa is the first step in the process; next comes getting a green card; and lastly, applying for citizenship. Three years after obtaining your green card, you, as the spouse of a US citizen, may seek to become a naturalized US citizen.
Can you get divorced after the K1 visa?
Certainly, a divorce can occur after obtaining a K1 visa, according to the specifics of the separation and its timing. There can be issues, though, if the divorce happens before you have your green card.
This is because, in most cases, the foreign fiancé will require the US citizen’s participation [OA1] in order to receive a green card. You have to stay married to the person who sponsored your visa in order to be eligible for a marriage-based green card. Waiving this is doable in some situations, but it gets harder and harder. For instance, USCIS can ask that the two of you show up for an interview.
Getting divorced after a K1 marriage is a red flag, suggesting that you obtained the visa only for immigration purposes and not for a genuine relationship, which is a serious violation of US immigration law. So, if you get a divorce before getting your green card, you will need to file a waiver with USCIS and present authentic and convincing evidence of why divorce is inevitable.