If you are a U.S. citizen wanting to bring your fiancé into the U.S. to get married, you may petition for his/her K-1 visa, also commonly known as the “fiancé visa,” by filing form I-129F, Petition For Alien Fiancé(e). This visa can be valid for up to 6 months for a single entry.
In order for you to be eligible to petition for your fiancé’s K-1 visa, all of the following factors must be met:
- You are a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents cannot file I-129F;
- You have the intent to marry your fiancé within 90 days of admission. You must establish bona fide intent to establish a life together with your fiancé, and prove that the marriage is not intended for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit;
- Both you and your fiancé are legally free to marry under the U.S. law, meaning that all prior marriages have been legally terminated by divorce, death or annulment. You may petition for your same-sex fiancé, even if same-sex marriage is illegal in you or your fiancé’s home country. Your domicile state’s laws on same-sex marriage will also not bear on the adjudication of the petition;
- You and your fiancé have met each other in person at least once within the 2 year period prior to filing the petition. Waivers can be requested in certain extreme situations (extreme hardship to you, or against the “strict and long-established custom of your fiancé’s foreign culture”); and
- You must earn at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines)
K-1 visa not available if the couple is already married, or if the fiancé is already legally residing in U.S.
Failure to Marry within 90 Days of Admission
If the couple is not married within 90 days of K-1 visa holder’s admission, their K-1 status automatically expires and cannot be extended. This can lead to grave consequences, including deportation.
Filing Fee & Processing Time
The filing fee for Form I-129F is $535, and it can take between 6-9 months for the visa to be issued. Below is a brief walkthrough of the process:
- File the I-129F petition. USCIS may issue a request for evidence if additional documentation/information is required;
- Once the petition has been approved, U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center forwards the approved I-129F form to the consulate of your fiancé’s home country where her/his visa interview will take place. Before attending the interview, your fiancé must complete a Form-DS-160 online at https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/, and pay $265 visa fee.
- Once a visa stamp has been issued after the interview, your fiancé must enter the U.S. within 6 months. However, having an approved K-1 visa does not guarantee entry to the U.S. In rare circumstances, a Custom and Border Patrol officer at the port of entry may deny your entry, due to medical reasons, criminal history, or suspicion of fraudulent marriage.
Green Card/ Work Authorization
If your fiancé has successfully entered the U.S. with a K-1 visa and have been married to you within 90 days of admission, he/she is eligible to file form I-485 to become a permanent resident. K-1 visa holders can also apply for a work authorization immediately after being admitted, by filing form I-765.
If your fiancé has unmarried child who is under 21, you can also petition for the child’s K-2 visa by simply adding the child’s information on the original I-129F form. The child must remain under 21 and unmarried in order to be admitted, and must come with, or after your fiancé’s (K-1 visa holder) admission into the U.S. Children who are admitted under K-2 visas can also apply for permanent residence.