The K-1 fiancé visa is a nonimmigrant visa allowing a foreign fiancé of a United States citizen to enter the country for the purpose of marriage, particularly if the citizen cannot travel to marry abroad. Marriage offers a more direct path of immigration and eventual citizenship; however, the fiancé visa process is a much quicker option, typically under nine months. Obtaining a marriage green card for those who are already wedded generally takes up to a year or more.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for the Fiancé Visa?
In order to be eligible for the fiancé visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- You or your fiancé must be an American citizen
- The marriage must take place within 90 days following your arrival in the United States
- Both parties are legally eligible to marry in the United States and any previous marriages must have been legally dissolved through death, divorce, or annulment. The fiancé visa is also available to same sex partners.
- Both parties must have personally met on at least one occasion in the previous two years. However, this requirement may be waived if an in-person meeting violates cultural or religious practices or causes an extreme hardship.
- Must be able to show proof of the relationship’s legitimacy, with evidence documenting the relationship from the beginning until the engagement.
- The American citizen’s income is at least 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
What Documentation is Required for the Fiancé Visa?
In addition to the eligibility requirements above, both you and your fiancé will have to provide additional documents when filing for the visa, including:
- Evidence validating the citizenship of the American fiancé, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or a United States passport.
- A copy of the foreign passport.
- Proof that the relationship is legitimate, such as:
- Photos of you together.
- Communication between you both, such as emails, texts, letters, or phone records.
- Evidence of trips taken to visit one another, such airline flying records and hotel reservations.
- Written witness statements attesting the validity of the relationship and engagement from family, friends, or colleagues.
- If either was previously married, proof that the marriage was legally terminated, such as death, divorce, or annulment certificates.
- Evidence documenting you have met in person at least once in the previous two years, such as photos, letters, emails, texts, flight records, and hotel reservation receipts.
- Original and signed sworn statements from each party describing the relationship and intention to marry within 90 days from the arrival in the United States.
- Copies of arrival and departure records (any Form I-94) documenting your prior visits to the United States.
- One passport-type photo of each of you.
- The $535 fiancé visa filing fee (Form I-129F)
When submitting documentation demonstrating proof of the relationship’s legitimacy, the more proof you can provide, the better. Applications with only a few forms of proof may be considered suspicious as to the purpose of the marriage. While being engaged at the time of application is not required, proving legitimacy is easier for couples who are engaged beforehand.
What Are the Steps in Application Process?
The process to obtain a fiancé visa involves four steps to complete:
Step 1: Application approval and instructions
After you file the application form and supplemental documents, you will receive a notice from USCIS in approximately 30 days, at which time your application will begin processing. Each USCIS office has different processing times, but applications typically process in six to nine months. During this time, USCIS will mail you a Request for Evidence (RFE) form if more information is required. The approval of your application will also arrive by mail.
Once approved, your case will be transferred to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), which will send your visa interview notification through the U.S. embassy in your home country approximately 30 days later. The notice will provide the date, time, and location of the interview.
Additionally, once you receive the NVC notice, you are required to complete the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160) through the State Department’s website. Once completed, print the confirmation page and submit one copy to the embassy and bring an addition copy with you to the interview.
Step 2: Submit additional documentation
The NVC notice will also contain a list of additional required documents for each partner and instructions on how to submit them to the embassy. Required documents per person consist of:
From the American citizen:
- A completed Affidavit of Support (Form I-134) stating the citizen spouse will be responsible for financially supporting the foreign fiancé and will not apply for government assistance.
- The most recent income tax return, however, submitting the previous three years’ returns is preferred.
- A copy of the approved I-129F package filed with USCIS as proof of the relationship.
From the foreign fiancé:
- Copy of the birth certificate.
- Two passport-type photos.
- Copy of the unexpired, valid passport.
- Copies of police clearances from each country the fiancé resided in for more than six months since age 16.
- A sealed immigration medical examination from an approved physician
Before submitting any documents, read the NVC notice carefully, as each embassy has differing processes on how to provide them.
Step 3: Attend the visa interview
The foreign fiancé is required to attend the scheduled visa interview at the U.S embassy or consulate listed in the NVC fee. Typically interviews take place at the embassy or consulate in the foreign fiancé’s home country four to six weeks after the notice is received. The American citizen is not required to attend the interview.
The consular officer will ask questions pertaining to you, the American fiancé, and the relationship to assess the relationship’s legitimacy. Sample questions can be found on the State Department’s website. Once the interview complete, the officer usually makes a decision on the same day. The fiancé visa fee is also required during the interview.
Step 4: Migrate to the United States and marry:
Upon approval of the fiancé visa application, you will receive a sealed visa packet, and it is important that you do not open the packet. You will be required to provide the packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent when you arrive at the border for inspection. If the packet has been opened, you may be denied access into the United States.
You must migrate to the United States within four months of the visa approval date and marry within 90 days after entering the country. Unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to migrate with you. If you do not marry within the timeframe, or choose not to marry at all, you are required to leave the United States and return to your home country.
Once married, the foreign spouse can apply for lawful permanent resident status, also known as the “green card.”
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin P.C. Assist Clients Wishing to Bring a Foreign Fiancé to the United States to Marry
Filing for the fiancé visa can be a complicated task requiring precise documentation at different points in the application process. Working with an experienced immigration legal team, such as the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin P.C., ensures that your application packet will be correct, complete, and properly submitted so you can focus on reuniting with your loved one and beginning your life together in the United States. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.