K-1 Visas

A U.S. citizen who wants to marry a foreign national can bring him or her to the U.S. under a K-1 fiancé visa. In other words, the K-1 visa is a non-immigration visa for a foreign fiancé of an American citizen. The U.S. citizen must file the Petition for Alien Fiancé (Form I-129F) with the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. Once USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the embassy or consulate, where the foreign fiancé can apply for a K-1 non-immigrant visa. Once approved, the foreign fiancé gets a stamp in his or her passport that allows him or her to enter the U.S. as a K-1 non-immigrant.

Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign fiancé must have been legally allowed to get married at the time the K-1 petition is filed and afterwards. The marriage has to be valid under U.S. law, and specifically in the state in which the couple wishes to marry. Typically, the U.S. citizen and the foreign national fiancé must have met in person at some point in the two years immediately preceding the K-1 petition. USCIS may allow a couple to bypass this requirement if it would have caused an extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen to physically meet the foreign fiancé.

Once the fiancé obtains his or her visa, he or she must enter the U.S. through an immigration port of entry. The U.S. citizen must marry the fiancé within 90 days of arrival, or he or she has to return to his or her home country. This law is intended to prevent people from entering the U.S. under the guise of getting married and then staying in the country indefinitely for other reasons.

If the foreign national wants to work and reside in the U.S. after marriage, he or she is required to file the Form I-485 Application to register as a permanent resident of the U.S. or file for an adjustment of status with the local USCIS office. The U.S. citizen spouse must file an Affidavit of Support with the USCIS for the foreign spouse’s application to become a permanent resident of the country. The green card obtained through this process is typically for a two-year conditional period. If the marriage is still stable after two years, the foreign-national may apply for a 10-year non-conditional green card and ultimately U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. citizen sponsoring the foreign fiancé does not need to file separate petitions for his or her children. Qualifying children may apply for a K-2 visa based on the approval of the foreign fiancé’s Form I-129F, entitled Petition for Alien Fiancé. The procedural requirements of K visas mandate that separate applications be submitted for each K-2 applicant. Additionally, each K-2 applicant must pay the appropriate visa application fee.  The foreign national’s children may travel with him or her, or they can come at a later date. In either case, the children must have valid K-2 visas.

It is important to remember that if a U.S. citizen’s K-1 visa is denied, that individual will have the right to appeal. Typically, there is a 33-day time frame in which you must appeal after receiving the denial letter in the mail. The appeal must be filed through USCIS Form I-290B. The appeal must be filed with the office that processed the original application.