The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has several visa options based on family and marriage relationships. If a US citizen wants to bring a foreign fiancé to the United States, the first step is to apply for a K-1 visa.
In this article, you will find the essentials of the K-1 fiancé visa for US petitioners.
K-1 visas for a Fiancé – The Fundamentals
Foreign nationals are not allowed to self-petition for a K-1 visa. The US citizen must file Form I-129F (Petition For Alien Fiancé(e)) on behalf of his or her beneficiary.
To qualify for a K-1 visa, the future spouses must intend to marry each other within 90 days of the fiancé’s entry into the United States under K-1 status. USCIS has different mechanisms to identify whether a marriage based on a K-1 visa is valid.
After receiving approval for a K-1 visa, the US petitioner and his or her fiancé must demonstrate the bona fide intent to establish a life together. If the marriage is part of a scheme to circumvent US immigration law, it may result in severe legal consequences.
Once the couple is married within the 90-day period established by USCIS, the foreign spouse must apply for lawful permanent residence (green card) in the United States.
Please note that the K-1 visa is not applied to foreign nationals who are already married to US citizens. If a couple is already married, plans to marry outside the United States, or the fiancé is already residing in the United States, USCIS will not approve a K-1 visa.
Obtaining a K-1 Visa for a Foreign Fiancé as a US Citizen – Understanding the Process
Bringing a foreign fiancé to the United States as a US citizen involves different government agencies, including USCIS, the US Department of State (DOS), and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The first step for US petitioners is to file Form I-129F with USCIS, following all the required instructions. When submitting the application forms, the petitioner may have to attach supporting documentation and pay the required filing fee.
Once the petition is approved by USCIS, they will send the approved Form I-129F to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC), which will forward the forms to the US Embassy or Consulate where the fiancé must apply for a K-1 visa.
Upon receipt of the fiancé’s application, the US Embassy or Consulate will notify the applicant to schedule an interview. During the interview, a consular officer will determine whether the applicant qualifies for K-1 status.
Please note that the K-1 nonimmigrant status automatically expires after 90 days. If the couple decides not to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the United States, he or she must depart the country. If the couple marries after 90 days, the US petitioner can file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).
If the couple marries within the 90 days established by USCIS, the foreign fiancé must file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) to adjust his or her status and receive lawful permanent residence in the United States.