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How to Apply for a K1 Visa

What is a K1 Visa?

An American citizen with a fiancé in a foreign country will likely have questions about K1 visas. What is a K1 visa? It is a visa that makes it possible for their fiancé to have legal entry to the United States. A requirement is for the couple to get married within 90 days after entry. When this happens, the spouse may request permanent residence using marriage as a reason. As a result, many couples want to know how to get a K1 visa.

Considerations

After asking how does a K1 visa work, some couples realize it is not for them. There are some circumstances where the K1 visa process can be skipped. This is when a couple gets married and then applies for a spousal visa. Couples can base this decision on where they are living and how long they want to wait before getting married.

If a couple is married but are not certain if the foreign spouse would qualify for a marriage-based green card, they can check their eligibility with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Requirements

It’s important to know and understand what a K1 visa is, its requirements, and who is eligible for it.

  • There are specific income requirements for a foreign fiancé that must be met. Their most recent tax return must show an adjusted gross income that is 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Should the income not be enough, a sponsor must file an affidavit of support.
  • The sponsoring partner is required to be a legal U.S. Citizen. Sponsorship of a fiancé for a K1 visa is not possible by a U.S. green card holder.
  • A statement must be signed by both partners that they will be married within 90 days after the sponsored fiancé enters the United States. Should wedding plans have been established, it is recommended this evidence be submitted. This would include deposits on venues, wedding invitations, receipts, and more.
  • Each partner must be unmarried. Death certificates, divorce decrees, as well as annulments can be used to establish eligibility. Terminations of any previous marriage needs to be established.
  • Same-sex partners often want to know how to get a K1 visa. They do qualify regardless of the laws in the home country of the sponsored fiancé.
  • The couple will be required to show within the previous two years they had a minimum of one in-person meeting before filing the visa form. The only exceptions are in cases of extreme hardship. There is also an exception if an in-person meeting violated their country’s social, cultural, or religious norms. The proof of who is eligible could involve dated photos, hotel itineraries, flight itineraries, and more.

Application Process

The K1 visa application process starts when the couple fill out Form I-120F. It is referred to as the Petition for Alien Fiancé. Filling out this form by the fiancé, and filing it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is the first step. This form will serve as proof of the couple’s relationship status.

U.S. Department of State

Once this is done, the case will be given to the U.S. Department of State. The sponsored fiancé will be provided a notice in their country from the U.S. Embassy. This will occur approximately 30 days following the approval of the Petition for Alien Fiancé, Form I-120F. The approval will include details concerning a visa interview as well as all necessary documents.

Approval

The sponsored fiancé has up to four months from when the Petition for Alien Fiancé Form I-120F is approved to arrive in the United States. Should the couple not be married within the 90-day period, the sponsored fiancé will no longer have K1 status. They will be required to immediately leave the United States.

After learning how to apply and follow the process, the amount of time from when the petition is filed until a K1 visa is issued can vary. It has been calculated the average approval time is approximately eight months. The time involved will be determined by the availability for appointments at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy handling the case. Unnecessary delays can be avoided by the couple making certain they know how to apply and have all the requested supporting documents.