The K1 Visa / Fiancé Visa is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign national engaged to a U.S. citizen to enter the United States on the condition that the couple gets married within 90 days. After the wedding, the foreign spouse may proceed with an adjustment of status application (that is, an application for a green card) based on their marriage. While other avenues for marriage-based green cards exist, the advantage of the K visa is that it reduces separation time between U.S. citizens and their partners.
The first step in this process is for the U.S. citizen fiancé to file Form I-129F, also known as the Petition for Alien Fiancé, to sponsor their foreign national fiancé to come to the United States for marriage.
After approval at an interview at the U.S. Consulate, foreign national fiancés are issued a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. They can then legally enter the United States to marry their U.S. national partner within 90 days and file for adjustment of status to ultimately obtain a green card.
Form I-129F applications can also be used to bring a foreign spouse to the U.S. for the purpose of adjusting status to permanent resident – please see our article on Adjustment of Status for further information. After approval at an interview at the U.S. Consulate, a foreign national spouse is issued a K-3 nonimmigrant visa. They may then enter the United States to await the availability of an immigrant visa and apply for an adjustment of status.
Who is Eligible For a K1 Visa / Fiancé Visa?
There are specific requirements for K-1 visa eligibility. These are:
- Only U.S. citizens can sponsor their foreign national fiancés for a K-1 visa. Permanent residents (green card holders) cannot sponsor their foreign national fiancés for K1 visas.
- There must be no impediments to the marriage – meaning both partners must be free to get married in the United States. Annulment documents, divorce papers, and/or death certificates must be included in the application to show that any previous marriages have been legally terminated.
- Same-sex partners are eligible for sponsorship through K-1 visas, even if the foreign national fiancé’s home country does not allow sex-same marriage.
- The relationship must be genuine and documentary evidence attesting to that must be provided. Evidence of the relationship can be: plane tickets and/or hotel reservations of trips the couple took together, photographs of the couple, written statements from friends and colleagues acknowledging the relationship, or correspondence between the partners such as letters or emails, among other documents.
- The couple must have met in person at least once within the two years prior to applying for the K-1 visa. Evidence must be provided supporting this (hotel reservations, airline tickets, photos, etc.) Exceptions exist to this rule in cases of extreme hardship or where in-person meetings would violate long-standing cultural, religious, or social norms of one or both partners.
- Both partners must sign a statement stating their intention to marry within 90 days of the sponsored fiancé’s arrival in the United States. If wedding arrangements have already been made in advance, supporting evidence such as wedding invitations, receipts of deposits on a venue, etc., may also be provided.
- U.S. citizens sponsoring a foreign national fiancé must meet certain income requirements. A supplemental “Affidavit of Support” must be submitted at the consular interview. A joint financial sponsor is permitted in instances where the sponsoring partner falls short of the minimum income requirements.
While a K-1 visa is not the right choice in every situation, it can be an effective pathway to sponsoring one’s foreign national partner while reducing time spent apart. For more information on the K-1 visa, please Contact Us.