K-1 Visas: Fiancé or Fiancée Visas to the United States

What is a K-1 visa?
A K-1 visa is for foreign nationals residing outside the United States who will marry citizens of the United
States. It has a validity of ninety days only. The ninety days start upon entry of the fiancé/fiancée into
the United States.

The US citizen who wishes to marry the foreign national is called the sponsor; the sponsor will file a
Petition for Alien Fiancé/Fiancée (Form I-129F) and once approved, the nearest US Embassy or
Consulate will send the fiancé/fiancée an invitation to apply for a K-1 visa. Once the application has
been filed upon invitation, a K-1 visa will be issued to the foreign national after an interview.

What’s the difference between a K-1 visa and a K-3 visa?
Please note that the K-1 visa is appropriate for when the US citizen plans to marry the foreign
fiancé/fiancée in the United States. The K-1 visa is not appropriate for when the US citizen has already
married the foreign national overseas, or in the country of residence or citizenship of the fiancé/fiancée.
If the foreign national fiancé/fiancée and the US citizen have already been married overseas, they must
apply for a K-3 visa. The K-3 visa is the visa for spouses of US citizens.

What is required of the US citizens who sponsor foreign nationals for a K-1 visa?
US citizens sponsoring the K-1 visa for their fiancé/fiancée must prove that:

  • They are citizens of the United States (note that both natural born citizens and naturalized
    citizens can sponsor their fiancé/fiancée to come to the US).
  • The fiancé/fiancée and the US citizen/sponsor are free to marry. If they are single, they must
    prove that they are of marriageable age. If they are divorced, they must prove that the divorce
    decree is already final.
  • The sponsor must prove that within ninety days of the fiancé/fiancée arriving in the United
    States, they will marry.
  • The sponsor and the fiancé/fiancée have met in person (face-to- face) at least once during the
    two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
  • If the sponsor and the fiancé/fiancée have not met at least once in person during the two years
    before the filing of the petition, the sponsor must prove that the inability to meet with the
    fiancé/fiancée was because doing so would result in extreme hardship to the sponsor or that
    meeting in person violates the strict and long-established customs of the foreign culture or
    social practice of the fiancé/fiancée.

 

What if the US citizen’s fiancé/fiancée has a child or has children?

The fiancé/fiancée may bring with them their children who are under the age of 21 and are unmarried.
The US citizen must include all the names of the children who are under 21 and unmarried in the
petition (Form I-129F).

What if the US citizen and the fiancé/fiancée do not marry within the ninety-day period of validity of
the K-1 visa?
The K-1 visa will expire and will no longer be valid. The petition (Form I-129F) will also expire. These
cannot be extended. The US citizen, however, may file another petition. This is allowed.

Can the fiancé/fiancée work immediately after entering the US?
No. The fiancé/fiancée must apply for Employment Authorization by filing a Form I-765. This Work
Authorization will be valid for ninety days as well. After the ninety days of the Work Authorization are
expired, the fiancé/fiancée must leave the United States or face deportation.

What happens after the US citizen and the foreign fiancé/fiancée marry within 90 days?
After marriage, the foreign fiancé/fiancée may file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or to
Adjust Status (Form I-485). Once the Form I-485 is approved, the fiancé/fiancée will be given legal
permanent resident status.

If by the time the Form I-485 is approved and the US citizen and the foreign fiancé/fiancée have been
married for less than two years, the Department of State will issue a conditional permanent residence
card (green card). This is valid for only two years.

At the end of two years, the conditions must be removed. The conditional permanent residence card
cannot be renewed. So, if the foreign fiancé/fiancée cannot satisfy the conditions, he or she may lose
the status of lawful permanent resident and will be subject to deportation from the US.

What if the fiancé/fiancée is already in the US under a different visa when they marry?
The US citizen must file an I-130 or a Petition for Alien Relative. In this case, the foreign fiancé/fiancée is
considered as the relative of the US citizen because they are already spouses. Along with the I-130
petition, the US citizen may also file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
(I-485).

What if the foreign fiancé/fiancée enters the US on a tourist visa just to marry the US citizen?
This is considered as immigration fraud because the foreign fiancé expressed one purpose for entering
the US (as a tourist or student, perhaps) but had the plan to marry a US citizen all along. There are

serious legal consequences such as a possible fine of up to $10,000 and 5 years’ imprisonment. Also, the
foreign fiancé/fiancée may not attain immigration benefits.

What will happen during the visa interview at the Embassy?
The US Embassy official or consul will probably ask questions to determine the genuineness of the
relationship. They may also ask very personal questions regarding your marriage plans and your plans
regarding your life together as a couple. The consul will ask you facts regarding how, where and when
you met and the status of your relationship. The US Embassy will run a background check on the visa
applicant and they will determine if there are any grounds for inadmissibility of the fiancé/fiancée to the
US.

If I have a K-1 visa, can I be refused entry into the US?
An issuance of a K-1 visa is not a guarantee that the foreign fiancé/fiancée will be admitted into the US
at the port of entry. The foreign fiancé/fiancée will still be inspected and interviewed at the port of
entry. There will be confirmation of biometrics, travel documents, immigration information and identity.

Do you have questions regarding the K-1 visa? Need help applying as a sponsor? Need pointers to
prepare for the interview?

Call and ask any of our dedicated and experienced immigration lawyers at
Lluis Law. We are willing to help you.

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