Every alien that legally enters the U.S. need some form of visa. The K-1 Visa, also known as the Fiancé visa, is a short-term, nonimmigrant visa that allows the alien fiancé of a U.S. citizen to enter the country for their wedding. This fiancé can then later apply for permanent residency status (a green card) as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
This visa only applies to couples where one member is an actual U.S. citizen. This means that this visa does not apply if the petitioner for the alien fiancé is a permanent resident, or in the country for any other reason.
There are several requirements which apply to all K-1 applicants. As a couple, you need to make sure you can fulfill all of the following before applying for this type of visa:
- The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen.
- You and your fiancé can prove you will marry upon their arrival in the country.
- Typically you’ll show some evidence about the plans for your wedding, such as the venue or catering reservations.
- You and your fiancé have met face to face within the last two years. However, USCIS may grant an exception if:
- Meeting your alien fiancé in person would violate a cultural norm; or
- Meeting in person would create an extreme hardship on the U.S. citizen.
- Both you and your fiancé are legally available to marry.
- This requirement depends on being legally able to marry under U.S. law. Usually, any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
Filing for a K-1 visa is actually surprisingly simple.
The first step in applying for the K-1 visa is for the U.S. citizen to file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. Once Form I-129F is approved, the document will be forwarded to your fiancé’s local consulate. That consulate will provide you with the necessary instructions to continue the process, and schedule an interview. The alien fiancé will then have to attend this interview, where they’ll ask basic questions about your marriage. They’ll then issue you your K-1 visa
You should note that this visa only allows for a single entry into the country. Do not plan on leaving the country after your initial arrival, and avoid traveling through non-continental U.S. holdings such as Alaska and Hawaii if at all possible.
After your Fiancé Arrives in the U.S.
You must get married within the first 90 days after your fiancé enters the country. There is no exception to this requirement. If you do not get married within the designated time period, or if the alien fiancé marries someone other than the person who filed for the petition, USCIS will force the alien fiancé to leave the United States.
For this reason, it’s best to try to get married as soon as possible after your fiancé enters the country.
Since marriage licenses and certificates require a little bit of time, try to fulfill those requirements immediately and then begin the process of applying for an Adjustment of Status. The Adjustment of Status will allow your fiancé to live and work in the United States as a permanent resident.
In general, you should always consult with an experienced attorney throughout this entire process. The K-1 process may look easy on paper, but making a single mistake may strand your fiancé outside of the country, or worse, bar them from entry entirely.