You can easily become a US permanent resident if your fiance or fiancee is a US citizen or permanent resident. To achieve this, you can apply for a US K-1 Visa. It’s a non-immigrant visa and one of the most valuable US visa routes for getting a green card.
In this WorldTravelPride post, you’ll find all the information you need to apply for and obtain this visa. Read on.
What Is The K-1 Visa?
The US K-1 nonimmigrant visa is issued to a foreign-born fiancé(e) of a US citizen so that they may travel to the US to marry their partner. If you are a citizen of the United States, you can legally marry your foreign spouse and bring them to the country to live with you permanently.
Your fiancé or fiancée must enter the United States no later than 90 days before the wedding. When you are married, your fiancé or fiancée – now husband or wife – can change their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.
The K-1 visa is only available to US residents; green card holders cannot apply for or utilize this visa. It’s also for people who are engaged but not yet married and planning to tie the knot in the United States within the next three months.
No one should apply for a US K-1 visa if they are already married or plan to be married outside of the United States. The visa is issued to non-immigrants and is, therefore, only valid for a short period. But after that, it’s easy to become a permanent resident and even a citizen.
The US K-1 visa application process involves multiple steps that both partners must complete. The foreign fiancé(e) will be able to visit the US only after their visa application is approved.
The foreign spouse may have to leave the United States if they don’t get married within 90 days of arrival. The K-1 visa becomes invalid and is not renewable after 90 days.
US K-1 Visa Eligibility Requirements
The first requirement of the K-1 visa is for the petitioner to be a US citizen. Hence, if you’re the one filing the petition to bring your fiance(e) to the United States, you’ll need to show proof of citizenship. A passport, birth certificate, or other documents that show you’re a US citizen is acceptable.
The USCIS demands more eligibility requirements for the foreign-born fiance. Importantly, each person in the relationship must qualify as a “fiancé(e)” under U.S. immigration law.
The US citizen and their foreign partner must be free to get married under their respective countries’ laws to get a US K-1 visa. Both couples must prove that no past marriages exist between them, either by death, divorce, or annulment.
It’s also important that the state’s laws allow for marriages between two people of different genders to take place there. Partners should have met face-to-face during the last two years. Nonetheless, USCIS may make an exception to this rule if the couple can show that great poverty or cultural barriers prohibited them from meeting in person.
K-1 Visa Income Requirements
The United States government requires U.S. citizens to prove that they earn more than enough money to provide for themselves and their fiance’s basic living expenses. It’s to ensure that you and your partner can maintain a living standard above the poverty line with your current income.
An Affidavit of Support, Form I-134, must be submitted, and the USCIS will use the information on the form data to verify eligibility. It’s similar to the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) submitted with a green card application based on a family relationship. The income requirement for the I-864 is 125% of the federal poverty line, but the requirement for the I-134 is 100%.
Required Documents For US K-1 Visa Application
You and your fiancé must submit paperwork to the U.S. consulate handling your case. Be sure to comply with the embassy’s notice’s precise instructions for submitting these papers. Notably, the documents required are different for the petitioner and beneficiary.
Documents Required for the U.S. Citizen
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support is legally binding and states that U.S. citizen will use their wealth to help their foreign fiancé avoid future reliance on government handouts.
- Tax reports filed in the most recent tax year. Although only your most recent return is required, including returns for the prior three years is strongly recommended.
- Paper trail of your engagement to a foreigner. You must submit a copy of the initial Form I-129F application accepted by the USCIS.
Documents Required for the Foreign Fiance
- A pair of passport-sized photographs
- Proof of your legitimate birth, as shown on your birth certificate
- Copies of police clearance forms from every country you’ve lived in for more than six months since you turned 16
- A medical history and examination report, if mandatory for your country. The doctor who conducts your immigration medical checkup will give you this report.
US K-1 Visa Application Fees
You pay different fees for your US K-1 visa application. The fees include:
- Form I-129F application fee: $535
- Consulate processing fee (at the embassy or consulate): $265
- Form I-485: $1,140
If you need to submit biometrics, you’ll pay an $85 fee. In addition, you may have to pay extra fees for your medical exam.
How To Apply for the US K-1 Visa
There are five stages to complete when applying for the US K-1 visa, beginning with the petition and ending with permanent residency. The procedure starts with the US citizen petitioning for a K-1 visa through the USCIS.
They must submit Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) on Form I-129F to the local USCIS service center inside the US. The point is to prove that you and your fiance are serious about getting married.
To verify the authenticity of your relationship, you will provide the necessary documentation mentioned previously. When USCIS approves your I-129F application, it will send the paperwork to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Once the NVC receives your approved petition, they will inform your fiance to submit a visa application. Additionally, your fiance must schedule an appointment with a consular officer at the US embassy or consulate in their country of residence.
The US K-1 visa can take anywhere from weeks to months to process. There is no hard and fast rule on how long it takes to process. If you’re having the wedding in the United States, you should allow a few extra months to prepare for potential delays.
You will receive a sealed visa packet once your K-1 visa application is approved. Please do not rip open this package, as the border control officers conducting your inspection at the border will require it. You may be unable to enter the US if the package is open.
K-1 Visa Interview
The National Visa Center will notify you of the specific U.S. consulate or embassy where you will have your visa interview. With an approved petition, the interview should be quick and easy.
Typically, the consular officer who interviews you for a visa will decide the same day you meet with them. After the interview, you may need to submit further documentation, depending on the circumstances.
US K-1 Visa Validity
The first K-1 visa is valid for four months, with an additional two months available for extension. Despite the K-1 visa’s potential validity, you must get married within 90 days of your fiance entering the United States.
You will lose your K-1 visa status if you do not. It’s best to return to your country immediately if you don’t plan to marry rather than stay in the US until the visa expires.
Except for a green card through marriage, you cannot switch your immigration status from a K-1 visa to any other category. Additionally, you cannot use your K-1 visa to marry anybody other than the U.S. citizen with whom you filed Form I-129F.
Following the wedding, the foreign spouse can apply for permanent residency or adjustment of status by filing Form I-485 and the necessary supporting documentation.
Can You Work on a US K-1 Visa?
Yes. Filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), can get you authorized to work in the United States as soon as you arrive on a K-1 visa. You should expect a processing time of 1-2 months from USCIS, and your work visa will only be valid within the first 90 days after you arrive in the country.
You can only get a lengthier work authorization after you get married. To do so, you can apply for the same Form I-765 or apply for Form I-485 to become a permanent resident.
Can You Bring Your Family to the US on a K-1 Visa?
Yes. If your children are under 21 and unmarried, they are welcome to join you in the United States. You can include them on Form I-129F, and if they meet the requirements, they will be issued K-2 visas simultaneously with your K-1 visa.
For your children to be eligible for admission to the United States as K-2 nonimmigrants with you, they must remain unmarried and under the age of 21. Your kids can come in with you or afterward, but they can’t enter the country beforehand.
Once you have married your U.S. citizen fiance while on a K-1 visa, your parents and siblings can join you in applying for permanent residency.
Which Is Better – K-1 Visa or Spouse Visa?
The US spouse visa, also known as the marriage-based green card, is similar to the K-1 visa. A Marriage-Based Green Card allows a person from a foreign country who is married to a U.S. citizen or Green card holder to move to the United States, live, and work anywhere in the United States.
The green card holder will have “permanent resident” status and can apply for U.S. citizenship, for which they will be eligible after three years. Hence, both K-1 and Spouse visas lead to permanent residency.
The difference is that the K-1 visa is for non-married partners who want to marry in the US. On the other hand, the Spouse visa is for married partners. In comparison, settling in the US on a Spouse visa is easier.
Why Do K-1 Visas Get Denied?
The USCIS will tell you why your US K-1 Visa application was unsuccessful. From their reasons, you can decide on what to do next. However, a petition for a K-1 visa could be denied for a variety of reasons, including:
- The petitioner does not have the required qualifications.
- The r foreign national does not meet the requirements.
- Some questionable or deceptive activity exists in the relationship.
- The American citizen’s annual salary is below the threshold for eligibility.
- The partners have not seen one other in over two years
The U.S. citizen and foreign national must be single and in good standing with USCIS (USCIS) for an application to be successful.
Another reason the petition can be unsuccessful is if the consular officer suspects the foreign person is using marriage to illegally enter the country or get permanent residency. Both parties must have sufficient income, and they must have had a face-to-face meeting during the previous two years.
Let us know in the comments section if you have any questions or further inquiries about applying for the US K-1 Visa,