There are 21,917 K-1 visas issued in the U.S. in the fiscal year 2021(source: Department of State).
K-1 visa, also known as the fiancé(e) visa, is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married. Every K-1 visa permits alien-born personnel the chance to relocate to the U.S. with their U.S. national fiancé(e).
The processing time for a K-1 visa can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the workload at the U.S. embassy or consulate where the application is being processed, and whether the application is complete and properly filed. On average, the processing time for a K-1 visa can take 1 – 2 years.
What is a K-1 Visa?
The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married.
This visa is as well known as a “fiancé(e) visa.” The K-1 visa is designed for individuals who are engaged to be married to U.S. citizen.
This visa category allows the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States for a 90-day period, during which time the couple must get married.
This marriage is required to be effective, which implies that you and your fiancé(e) had to be planning to develop a life jointly.
That is, the marital union is not for the exclusive intent of getting immigration privileges.
After getting married, the foreign citizen will apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident (Green Card holder). The adjustment of status application must be filed within 90 days of the foreign citizen’s entry into the United States.
K-1 Visa – Whose can submit an application?
A K-1 visa can be applied for by a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national. The U.S. citizen, also known as the petitioner, must submit the application on behalf of their fiancé(e), who is the beneficiary of the visa. The U.S. citizen must also be able to demonstrate that they have met their fiancé(e) in person within the last two years, and that they have a bona fide relationship. In addition, U.S. citizen must also meet certain financial requirements to sponsor their fiancé(e) for a K-1 visa.
To be qualified, you need to:
- Become a U.S. national ( through birth, naturalization, or to your parents);
- You and your fiancé(e) have to plan to wed no more than 90 days after your fiancé(e)’s entry into the U.S.;
- You and your fiancé(e) are each lawfully permitted to be wed in the U.S. (implying that either you and your fiancé(e) are not wed or that any prior weddings have been lawfully ended by divorce, decease or nullification); and
- You and your fiancé have knowledge of one another for a minimum of two years prior to requesting the K-1 visa and have seen one another in the past two years minimum:
- A dispensation is requested in the event that this session would result in the following:
- Against strict and long-standing habits of your fiancé(e)’s alien culture or social customs; or
- Causes ultimate difficulty for you, the U.S. citizen applicant.
K-1 Visa – Whose cannot submit an application?
You shall not be issued a K-1 visa, if:
- You are not a U.S. resident;
- You and your fiancé(e) have no interest in becoming wed during the 90 days following your entry into the U.S.;
- You and your fiancé(e) are not authorized to engage in a legal U.S. marriage and/or are planning to marry as a result of a violation of U.S. immigration legislation;
- You and your fiancé(e) have not recognized one another for a minimum of two years and have seen one another a minimum of once (no exemptions).
K-1 Visa Handling Procedures
The K-1 visa process is a two-step procedure that allows a foreign national fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married. The process involves the following steps:
- The U.S. citizen petitioner submits a petition (Form I-129F) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of their fiancé(e). The petition must include evidence of the bona fide relationship between the couple and that they have met in person within the last two years.
- After the petition is approved by USCIS, it is forwarded to the U.S. embassy or consulate where the foreign national fiancé(e) will apply for the K-1 visa.
- The foreign national fiancé(e) will then complete the visa application process, which includes submitting the required documentation, undergoing a medical examination, and being interviewed by a consular officer.
- Once the K-1 visa is issued, the foreign national fiancé(e) can travel to the United States and enter the country within six months of the visa being issued.
- After entering the United States, the couple must get married within 90 days.
- After getting married, the foreign national fiancé(e) can apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident.
Every procedure is discussed in this paper hereafter.
STEP 1: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Handling
USCIS is obligated to check that you and your fiancé(e) satisfy all K-1 nonimmigrant visa requirements, including relationship checks.
USCIS Form I-129F
Download the most current edition of Form I-129F from the USCIS website
As a U.S. national, the initial step in acquiring the K-1 visa for your fiancé(e) is to present USCIS Form I-129F ( Application for Foreign Fiancé(e).
USCIS takes Form I-129F to determine your relationship with your alien-born fiancé(e).
At the time of filling out Form I-129F:
- Type or print clearly in black ink;
- In the event that you require additional room to fill in your answers or desire to fill in part 8 (Extra Information), you can have access to and accompany the form with a single piece of paper:
- If you use and attach a single piece of paper:
- Ensure that your Alien Registration Number (A-Number) (if any) is at the top of every piece of paper;
- Note the Page Number, Part Number, and Item Number to which your answers relate; and
- Sign and date every attached page;
- Ensure that you answer every question thoroughly and answer each question faithfully:
- In the event that a problem does not apply to you, please reply “N/A” or ” None” unless instructed differently.
When filling out Form I-129F, you will be required to supply details about yourself, your fiancé(e), your children (if applicable), and your fiancé(e)’s children (if applicable).
Certain information needed to fill out Form I-129F includes:
- Either an Alien Registration Number, USCIS Online Account Number, and a Social Security Number (if available);
- All physical addresses for the last five years;
- All employment histories for the last five years;
- Date and place of birth;
- Information about parents;
- Information about previous spouses;
- Citizen identification information;
- Information on any previous applications submitted to USCIS or the Department of State;
- Information for all children;
- Information related to the relationship, such as:
- Have you and your fiancé(e) met?
- In a K-1 visa application, U.S. immigration law requires that the U.S. citizen petitioner and their fiancé(e) have met in person within the last two years. This requirement is in place to ensure that the relationship between the couple is bona fide and not a sham for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits.
- If the answer to this question is yes, then the couple will have to provide evidence of their in-person meeting, such as photographs, travel itineraries, and any other relevant documentation to prove that they have met in person within the last two years. This documentation will be part of the K-1 visa application package submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- If the answer to this question is no, the couple may not be able to proceed with the K-1 visa application process. It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule, such as if the couple can demonstrate that they were unable to meet in person due to extreme hardship or religious or cultural reasons. The USCIS has the discretion to waive this requirement in cases where the couple can demonstrate that they have a bonafide relationship despite not meeting in person within the last two years.
- Information on using an International Marriage Broker (if appropriate);
- You will be required to supply the city or town and country where your fiancé(e) will seek a visa from the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate;
- You will be inquired about all criminal history and requested to supply all court and police records indicating the accusations and treatment of each arrest or conviction;
- You will be required to supply biographical information;
- You will be required to supply information about any person who assisted in filling out the form; and
- You will be required to provide your contact information to USCIS.
K-1 Visa Checklist
USCIS demands that the below documents/evidence be presented with the I-129F petition:
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship:
- Copy of your birth certificate showing birth in the United States;
- Copy of your initial Certificate of Naturalization;
- Copy of your initial Certificate of Citizenship;
- Copy of your Form FS-240 (Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States);
- Copy of your effective, undated U.S. passport or passport card, which is effective for a minimum of five years; or
- A statement signed by a U.S. consular officer identifying that you are a U.S. national and have a valid U.S. passport;
- Termination of Previous Marriages – If you or your fiancé(e) were formerly wed, you would have to offer proof that all previous marriages have been lawfully terminated:
- Divorce judgment;
- Annulment of the marriage;
- A death certificate signed by civil authority;
- Photographs – you will have to present a color passport-style photograph of yourself and a color passport-style photograph of your fiancé(e) no later than 30 days after filing the I-129F application;
- Evidence of a Legal Name Change; if you or your fiancé(e) has used a name distinct from that indicated on the proof presented in favor of your petition, you are required to present copies of legal documents showing the lawful name change;
- Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) – in the event that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or USCIS has granted your fiancé(e) Form I-94 for arrival and departure, you will have to supply this record indicating the date your fiancé(e) authorized his or her stay;
- Proof of classification of fiancé(e) as a K-1 nonimmigrant – aside from the above proof, you will have to present the following evidence:
- Intention to marry during the 90 days following admission – this shall involve a statement signed by both you and your fiancé(e) or other proof of mutual intent to marry;
- In-Person Meeting – you will have to present proof that you and your fiancé(e) had a minimum of one in-person in the two years prior to filing your I-129F petition, which might include:
- Photographs of the couple together during their in-person meeting, along with captions or dates to show when the photographs were taken.
- Travel itineraries, including flight and hotel reservations that show when and where the couple met.
- Communication records, such as emails, text messages, or social media messages show that the couple was in contact with each other during the time of their in-person meeting.
- Affidavits from friends or family members who can attest to the fact that the couple has met in person and has a bonafide relationship.
- Any other relevant documentation, such as wedding plans, that can demonstrate the couple’s intent to get married.
- Written statements from the couple that describes their meeting in detail, including how they met, how long they spent together, and any other relevant information.
K-1 Visa charges
Form I-129F’s charges are $535.
This charge will not be refunded, no matter what action USCIS undertakes on this application.
K-1 Visa – Where to submit?
USCIS asks that you present Form I-129F at a USCIS office in the U.S.
File Form I-129F at the USCIS Dallas lockbox.
U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266-0151
FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
Attn: I-129F (Box 660151)
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067-8003
In the event that you finish your I-129F petition and submit it with a completed USCIS Form G-1145 ( Notification of Acceptance of Application/Request), USCIS will notify you via email or text message when your petition is admitted.
ATTENTION: USCIS does not receive I-129F applications submitted to U.S. Embassies or Consulates overseas; you will have to mail your finished I-129F petition to one of the USCIS addresses in the U.S.
When does USCIS begin processing K-1 visas?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) begins processing K-1 visa petitions (Form I-129F) after they are properly filed and all required fees have been paid. Once the USCIS receives the petition, they will conduct an initial review to ensure that it is complete and meets the basic requirements for a K-1 visa. If the petition is complete and meets the basic requirements, the USCIS will begin processing the petition.
You will be informed if your petition is incomplete or if additional documentation/evidence is necessary.
K-1 Visa Processing Times
On average, USCIS needs 10.4 months to grant your I-129F petition.
However, individual cases may require a longer period of time.
Form I-129F Processing Times
|80% of cases are completed within
|K1/K2/K3/K4 - Fiance(e) or spouse and/or dependent children
|California Service Center
|Nebraska Service Center
|Potomac Service Center
|Texas Service Center
|Vermont Service Center
How to Keep Track of Your K-1 Visa Petition
There are several ways to keep track of the status of your K-1 visa petition while it is being processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Some ways to do this include:
- Checking the status of your petition online: The USCIS provides an online case status tool that allows you to check the status of your petition by entering your receipt number. This will give you an update on the current status of your case, such as if it is still being processed, if it has been approved, or if it has been denied.
- Contacting the USCIS: You can also contact the USCIS directly by phone or email to inquire about the status of your petition. You should have your case number and other identifying information ready when you contact them.
STEP 2: National Visa Center (NVC) Handling
After your I-129F petition is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The NVC is responsible for pre-processing and document collection before the case is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The NVC’s role is to ensure that all required immigrant visa documentation is received and to ensure that the case is ready for an interview before it is forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
As soon as you get notification from USCIS on Form I-797C (Notice of Action) that your I-129F petition has been granted, it is now time for your fiancé(e) to finish and present the NVC Form DS-260.
For a further discussion of the NVC and DS-260, SelfLawyer’s Form NVC DS-260 Immigration Guide can be accessed here. SelfLawyer DS-260 and DS-261 Immigration Guide
NVC Form DS-260
Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) is the second step in the application for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa.
The DS-260, also known as the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, is an online application form that is used for certain types of immigrant visa applications, including the K-1 fiancé(e) visa. The form is used to collect biographic, background, and contact information about the foreign national fiancé(e) who is applying for the K-1 visa.
The role of the DS-260 in the K-1 visa application process is to provide the U.S. Department of State with the necessary information to process the visa application and to determine the foreign national fiancé(e) eligibility for the K-1 visa. The DS-260 is one of the forms that need to be filled out and submitted as part of the visa application process.
After filling out the NVC Form DS-260, you will have to promptly fill out the NVC Form DS-261 (Select Address and Agent).
This form is only for showing NVC how to contact you during the process of your petition.
Form DS-261 is available and can be filled out at the following website: NVC Form DS-261
Form DS-260 Charges
Form DS-260 charges include the following:
- DS-260 and DS-261 petition charges: $325.00
- I-864 (Affidavit of Support) petition charge: $120.00
- Biometric services charge: $85.00
- I-693 medical exam: No charge, but you have to pay the exam charge.
How to Submit Form DS-260
Both the DS-260 and DS-261 are online forms, which implies that they have to be filled out and presented online through the National Visa Center’s website at NVC Online Forms.
Here are the steps on how to submit the form:
- Go to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website at https://ceac.state.gov/
- Click on the “Immigrant Visa” button on the homepage.
- Create an account by clicking on “New User” and then following the instructions to create your profile.
- Once you have created your account, sign in and select the “DS-260” form.
- Read the instructions and information provided on the form carefully before filling it out.
- Fill out the form with the required information, including your personal, contact, and background information, as well as information about your U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
- Review your form carefully before submitting it to ensure that all the information is correct and that all the required fields have been completed.
- After you submit the form, you will be given a confirmation number. You will need to keep this confirmation number as you will need it to check the status of your application and to schedule your visa interview.
All applicants for K-1 visas (and children over the age of 14 applying for K-2 visas) have to take a biometric check.
This test asks you to supply fingerprints, a photograph, and other information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a background investigation.
Your U.S. Embassy or Consulate will not arrange an appointment for your interview until the FBI background investigation is done.
The cost of biometric verification services is $85.
According to U.S. immigration regulations, all K-1 (and K-2) visa petitioners have to submit to a medical exam to determine whether they become a risk to the public health of the U.S.
In your NVC appointment letter, you will be directed to take an immigration examination and fill out Form I-693 (Medical Examination and Vaccination Report).
Schedule this examination as soon as possible, as the examination and all associated laboratory studies have to be done prior to your immigration appointment date.
Although there are no charges related to Form I-693, you are in charge of the cost of the Form I-693 medical examination (these charges differ by doctor and location).
The NVC will direct you to take your filled-out Form I-693 with you to your immigration interview.
STEP 3: INTERVIEW AT U.S. EMBASSY
Once you have submitted all applications, submitted all backup documents, and paid all charges, NVC will arrange an immigration interview.
The K-1 visa interview is a crucial step in the K-1 visa application process. It is the final step before a decision is made on the visa application. The interview is conducted by a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate where the foreign national fiancé(e) has applied for the visa. The purpose of the interview is to verify the information provided in the visa application and to determine the foreign national fiancé(e)’s eligibility for the K-1 visa.
This generally involves about one to two months to arrange the interview.
During the interview, the consular officer will ask the foreign national fiancé(e) a series of questions to verify the information provided in the application, such as the details of their relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner, their background, and their intentions in the United States. The consular officer may also ask for additional documentation, such as proof of the couple’s relationship, and will look for any red flags that would indicate ineligibility for the visa.
To find out about you, you may be inquired about the following:
- Your name, nationality, date of birth, and location of birth.
- Have you traveled to the U.S. before? When? Why? What kind of visa?
- Do you have relatives residing in the United States?
- Questions about any previous marriage? Has it finished? How did it finish? When?
- Questions concerning any children (who may be necessary to attend the interview);
- Is this your initial K-1 visa petition?
- Have you ever been caught or charged with any crime?
- What is your relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner?
- How did you meet the U.S. citizen petitioner?
- When was the last time you saw each other?
- What is your occupation?
- What is your education level?
- What is your marital status?
- Have you ever been married before?
- Have you ever been to the United States before?
- Do you have any children?
- Do you have any family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents?
- Do you have any criminal history?
- Why do you want to come to the United States?
- What are your plans after getting married to the U.S. citizen petitioner?
- Do you have any ties to your home country that you will be leaving behind?
- Have you ever been denied a visa or had a visa canceled?
It is vital that you respond faithfully to all questions.
Your fiancé(e) has to participate in your interview.
Their interview will also be conducted, usually in a separate room from yours.
The goal of this is to ascertain whether you and your fiancé(e) intend to engage in a real marriage and not evade U.S. immigration legislation.
The majority of the questions will concentrate on the other person and may cover the following:
- Full name, age, and birthday?
- Questions concerning your condition in life, such as:
- Where do you reside?
- Do you reside in an apartment, house, etc.?
- Ability to support both their foreign national fiancé(e) and their spouse financially, should they both enter the United States on the K-1 visa.
- Have you encountered parents?
- Siblings? What are their names? Ages? Have you encountered any?
- Current marital status and any previous marriages.
- Any children? Names, ages, etc.?
Both you and your fiancé(e) may be questioned about your marriage plans, where you will reside in the future, and where your children (K-2, if any) will attend school.
It is vital that your responses are consistent with your fiancé(e)’s answers.
Keep in mind that the aim of the interview is to demonstrate that you and your fiancé(e) are in a real relationship and plan to come into a real marriage.
How to Keep Track of Your DS-260 Petition
Here are some ways to keep track of the status of your DS-260 petition while it is being processed by the U.S. Department of State:
Checking the status of your petition online: You can check the status of your DS-260 by visiting the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website at https://ceac.state.gov/ and entering your confirmation number. This will give you an update on the current status of your application.
Contacting the National Visa Center (NVC): You can also contact the NVC directly by phone or email to inquire about the status of your application. You should have your case number and other identifying information ready when you contact them.
You are able to keep track of the status of your DS-260 petition through the State Department’s website here: Tracking DS-260 Petitions.
How much time will it take for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to Process my K-1 visa?
As soon as the NVC gets your case, your native U.S. Embassy or Consulate will process your petition.
The period of time it takes to grant your petition differs from case to case.
Certain cases are postponed on account of applicants not adhering carefully to directions or due to inadequate information they have provided.
Any errors in your petition will result in a late receipt of your K-1 visa.
Please make sure that all addresses, phone numbers and other contact information are accurate on all documents provided.
Certain visa petitions need additional administrative processing, which takes extra time once your consular interview has been conducted.
How much time does it cost for NVC to arrange an interview?
The processing time for the National Visa Center (NVC) to arrange an interview for a K-1 visa can vary depending on the workload of the NVC and the specific case. On average, the NVC process can take 4 to 5 months, but it could take longer depending on the circumstances of your case. The exact time frame for the NVC to arrange an interview will depend on various factors, such as the completeness of the application, the number of applications being processed at the time, and any additional documentation that may be required.
How much time does it take for NVC to grant a K-1 visa?
As with other overseas visa petitions, it might take a couple of weeks for your K-1 visa to be granted.
After your interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the Embassy may postpone making a definitive determination on your case.
In these cases, your petition will go into what is referred to as Administrative Processing.
Administrative processing is an additional review that may be required during the K-1 visa application process. It is a security check that is conducted by various U.S. government agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to verify the information provided in the application and to ensure that the foreign national fiancé(e) poses no security risk to the United States.
Administrative Processing does not imply a denial of your K-1 petition.
In most circumstances, it implies that the Embassy requires more time to think about your case.
During administrative processing, the U.S. government agencies will conduct background checks and security screenings on the foreign national fiancé(e) and the U.S. citizen petitioner, as well as any other individuals who are named in the application.
Occasionally you will be required to present extra documentation.
At other times, you will be required to provide clarification on one of the answers in your petition or interview.
It is likely that the Embassy will require you to have a second interview.
Most of the time, the cause of the Administrative Processing can and will be easily resolved.
The timeline required to finish Administrative Processing differs greatly, ranging from 30 to 60 days, at times longer.
Unfortunately, there is practically nothing you can do to speed up the Administrative Processing.
If the administrative processing is completed and there are no issues or concerns, the consular officer will proceed with the visa issuance. If the officer finds any issues or concerns, the officer may request additional documentation or information from the applicant, or may even deny the visa application.
Causes of K-1 Visa Refusal
There are three typical causes for the refusal of the majority of K-1 visa petitions:
- Inadequate documentation: The applicant or the U.S. citizen petitioner failed to provide sufficient evidence of their relationship, such as photographs, emails, and other documents.
- Fraud or misrepresentation: The applicant or the U.S. citizen petitioner provided false or fraudulent information on the application, or the consular officer has reason to believe that the relationship is not genuine.
- Ineligibility: The applicant or the U.S. citizen petitioner is ineligible for the K-1 visa based on U.S. immigration law, such as having a criminal record or previous immigration violations.
- Security-related issues: The applicant or the U.S. citizen petitioner has a security-related issue such as a previous arrest or conviction, or they are suspected of being involved in terrorism or other criminal activities.
May I Seek an Appeal for a K-1 Visa Refusal?
In the event that the inconceivable happens and your K-1 visa petition is refused, there are still some choices.
Initially, it is vital to identify the point at which your petition was refused.
While being processed by USCIS
In the event your petition is refused by USCIS, you have the opportunity to file an appointment to appeal during the 30 days.
You will be forced to fill out Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion) and pay a charge.
The second option is to retract your I-129F petition by filling out a “letter of withdrawal” with USCIS.
This choice permits you to fill out a new petition and correct any errors discovered in your initial petition.
In the processing of NVC
In the event that your K-1 visa petition is refused at the Consular level, you will be entitled to request a reviewed decision from the Consulate General.
You have to seek review as soon as possible, as this option is available just before the Embassy refers your petition back to USCIS.
Consulate General proceedings differ from Embassy to Embassy, so inquire at your local Embassy’s website for specific procedures.
You are able to locate your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the following URL: Find a U.S. Embassy.
If the Embassy has referred your I-129F petition back to USCIS, you might request that USCIS reaffirm its previous determination and deliver your petition back to your local Embassy for reconsideration.
This procedure will take a great deal of time, so it is often preferable to retract your petition and resubmit it.
Bear in mind that U.S. immigration legislation permits you to have a second application for a K-1 visa after waiting two years after being refused a visa.
However, you will be able to seek only two K-1 visas; alternatively, you will be forced to seek a waiver.
A last choice may be to marry your fiancé(e) and then get an immigration application through a CR-1 visa for a U.S. citizen spouse.
STEP 4: K-1 VISA ISSUANCE
How Much Time Does It Take to Get My K-1 Visa After It is Granted?
The time it takes to receive a K-1 visa after it has been granted can vary depending on the specific case and the U.S. embassy or consulate where the application is being processed. Typically, once the consular officer grants the K-1 visa, the visa will be printed and issued to the foreign national fiancé(e) within a few business days.
You will be asked to go back to your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate, where a consular officer will issue you the passport bearing the K-1 visa.
In the meantime, you will be provided with a sealed packet that contains the civil documents you supplied, as well as other documents produced by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Please do not unseal the sealed packet.
This packet will have to be opened only by a Customs and Border Parole Officer at the time you arrive in the U.S. for examination.
However, it’s important to note that the foreign national fiancé(e) will have a set time frame to enter the United States once the visa is issued, usually within six months from the date of issuance. If the foreign national fiancé(e) doesn’t enter the United States within that time frame, the visa will expire and they will need to apply for a new visa.
STEP 5: ENTER THE U.S. WITH A K-1 VISA
Customs and Border Parole (CBP) Checks
You have six months after the date you are issued a K-1 visa to access the U.S.
When entering the United States on a K-1 visa, the foreign national fiancé(e) will be subject to inspection and clearance by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. This process is known as CBP checks.
During the CBP checks, the foreign national fiancé(e) will be required to present their K-1 visa and passport, as well as the sealed package.
It’s important to note that the CBP checks can take some time and the foreign national fiancé(e) should be prepared for the process, and be patient and respectful with the officer conducting the inspection.
The foreign national fiancé(e) should also be prepared to answer any questions truthfully and provide any additional documentation that may be requested.
K-1 Visa Does Not Ensure Admission
Arrival at a U.S. port of entry with a current K-1 visa does not ensure that you will be permitted to come into the U.S.
This decision will be determined by a CBP officer during your submission for a check.
As an alien citizen, there are many causes for which you may be refused admission.
If this occurs, you will be detained or temporarily retained while your return flight is assigned.
In some instances, a CBP officer may not determine whether you should be accepted.
If this occurs, your check might be postponed (held back), and you will be directed to a different office close to your original destination in the U.S. for additional processing.
CBP Check Procedure
Once you reach the United States, you will be checked by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
CBP at the Airport
As part of the checking process, the CBP officer has to determine the following:
- Why you want to get into the U.S.;
- What files do you require;
- If you have those files; and
- How much time should you be permitted to reside in the U.S.?
This checking process to be conducted should last just a couple of minutes.
Once you are admitted, the officer will stamp your passport and customs manifest and give you a fully completed Form I-94.
The finished Form I-94 will indicate your immigration status and how much time you are permitted to spend in the U.S.
CBP at a Landside Port-of-Entry
As you arrive by the vehicle at the land border port of entry, a CBP officer will perform a first-level inspection.
Under certain circumstances, the officer might deliver you to a secondary procedure area for extra screening.
CBP at a marine Port-of-Entry
Screening at marine ports of entry is like the airport procedures.
In the event that airport-type facilities are not provided, passengers will be advised to declare the location on the ship where they will be screened.
STEP 6: MARRIAGE WITHIN 90 DAYS
The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the foreign national fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for 90 days so that they can marry their U.S. citizen petitioner.
The foreign national fiancé(e) must marry their U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entering the United States, and must apply to adjust their status to permanent resident after they marry.
Not getting wed in 90 days will violate the provisions of your visa, making you subject to instant arrest and deportation.
This will also work against you as well if you seek any kind of visa prospectively.
STEP 7: ADJUSTING STATUS USING FORM I-485
Since you are admitted to the U.S. on a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your visa is still in effect for just 90 days.
In the event you want to remain longer, it will be essential for you to adjust your status.
The foreign national fiancé(e) will be required to submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with supporting documentation such as proof of their marriage, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after they marry their U.S. citizen petitioner.
The adjustment of status process can take several months to complete, and the foreign national fiancé(e) will be required to attend a biometric appointment and an interview with USCIS.
We recommend starting this procedure before your 90-day K-1 visa expires.
How (and When) to Receive Work Authorization
As soon as you (the K-1 visa holder) are permitted to enter the U.S., you will be able to initiate proof of work authorization by presenting Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).
Nevertheless, in this instance, your work authorization is still effective for just 90 days.
As soon as you are married, you are able to seek permanent residency (green card) status while filing Form I-485 to apply for work authorization (Form I-765).
In this situation, your work authorization is effective for one year and may only be extended in one-year increments – or until your I-485 application is granted.
Children of Fiancé(e)
In the event that your fiancé(e) (the K-1 visa applicant) has a child less than 21 years old and not yet married, that child might be qualified to be admitted to the U.S. on a K-2 nonimmigrant visa.
A K-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the unmarried children (under the age of 21) of a foreign national fiancé(e) who has been issued a K-1 visa to enter the United States and join their parent.
Children have to maintain their age of less than 21 and not be married in order to bring them into the U.S. on a K-2 visa.
The K-2 visa is also known as a dependent visa and it allows the children of the foreign national fiancé(e) to enter the United States with their parent and stay in the U.S. for as long as their parent’s K-1 visa is valid.
They will be able to stay with your fiancé(e) or come to the U.S. later, but they will not be permitted to come into the U.S. prior to your fiancé(e).
Once the children enter the United States on a K-2 visa, they can attend school and live with their parent while they wait for their parents to marry the U.S. citizen petitioner and adjust their status to permanent resident. After their parent adjust their status, the children can apply for a green card themselves.
Nevertheless, the K-2 nonimmigrant child has to be kept unmarried to be qualified for a green card.
In addition, the K-2 nonimmigrant child will be expected to submit their I-485 application at the same time or later than your fiancé(e).