K-1 (Fiancé) Visa Guide
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K-1 (Fiancé) Visa
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Before we get started…
The K-1 non-immigrant visa, or more commonly referred to as the fiancé visa, is an option for those who are planning to get married to a U.S. citizen upon entry into the United States. The visa expires after 90 days, at which point most holders will have filed an I-485 application to remain in the United States. It should be noted that this visa is not applicable for fiancés of green card holders.
The processing times for the K-1 visa are actually quite well relative to other family-based preference categories. This is perhaps why this visa option has been so popular in the past. Here is a rundown of the total wait times, broken up by their appropriate filings:
Receipt of I-129F Petition: If you have filed correctly, the USCIS will respond by mailing you a confirmation of your petition within 2-3 weeks.
I-129F Adjudication: 6-9 months. During this time the USCIS is checking to qualify the existing relationship between the U.S. citizen and beneficiary, and also running a background check to see if there is any conflict in approving the petition.
NVC and Consular Processing: After the petition has been accepted, the USCIS notifies the NVC, administered by the State Department. Consular processing involves completing the DS-160 and paying related NVC fees. It takes between 4-6 weeks for the NVC to process these forms.
Fiancé visa interview: Once you have had your fiancé visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy, the officer presiding over your case should have a decision within 2-3 weeks.
Once your visa is issued, you will be able to book a flight to the United States for admission.
I-129F Petition: $535
Consular Processing Fees (DS-160): $265
Note: It is very important for applicants of this visa type to know if they plan on bringing children to the U.S. with them, they will have to file additional DS-160s for each dependent. For example, the consular processing fee for bringing two additional dependents is 265 x 3= $795.
Airline Tickets: Booking a one-way ticket is cheaper than a round trip. Flights from Europe to the U.S. for one way can range between $300-800 for one ways. However, applicants traveling from Asia can expect to pay around $1200 for a one-way ticket.
Medical Exam Fee: The average cost for seeing an approved panel physician before your visa interview is $200.
What are the legal requirements for a K-1 Visa?
Both the petitioner and the beneficiary should be otherwise admissible to the United States. The U.S. citizen in particular, who is filing a petition on behalf of their foreign fiancé, should be able to financially support their fiancé, and also have a good history of tax compliance.
The fiancé needs to have a clean record in terms of past visas and entries/exits to the United States. They need to have not violated U.S. immigration law in the past by overstaying a tourist visa or committing fraud in order to file a green card application. Both parties will be scrutinized by officers and specifically, the fiancé could have their bags searched by a CBP officer upon entry into the U.S.
CBP officers generally look to make sure the fiancé has not brought medications or other supplies to the U.S. that would last longer than 90 days, signaling that they might not have an intention of getting married or receiving their own Social Security number.
For the petitioning U.S. citizen submitting an I-129F to the USCIS, submit the following attached to your mail-in petition:
(Click here to read our step-by-step guide for completing the I-129F.)
- Evidence that the couple has met in person in the immediate 2 years prior to filing the petition
- A copy of recent pay stub or W-2 form prior fiscal year
- Proof of written original statements of intent to marry from both parties
- Any copy of a legal document stating that termination of marriage (divorce), if applicable
For the fiancé attending a K-1 visa interview abroad:
- An unopened completed and signed medical exam by an approved panel physician
- Foreign passport
- State ID
- Confirmation page of your DS-160 (receipt)
For petitioners, there is no option to submit your I-129F via the Online Account system provided by the USCIS. This is only available for select forms. Instead, applicants should be sure to attach the G-1145 eNotification to their application package.
The link for the G-1145 is available here: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/forms/g-1145.pdf
This form is important for petitioners. It will allow them to track the status of their I-129F without waiting for unnecessary delays in the mail. Simply add your phone/email address to the form to be included in this eNotification service.
For fiancés, becoming familiar with the CEAC—Consular Electronic Application Center is your best bet. This is the NVCs online application center, where you will submit forms like the DS-160 and associated fees.
CEAC Login: https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx
In order to log in, k-1 visa applicants need to have their case number ready. The NVC creates a case number for applicants when they are notified by the USCI that the original petition has been approved.
Additional resources to contact the NVC: Call 1-603-334-0888. Note: Only English-speaking representatives are available on this line. Wait times may exceed 30 minutes.
Upon receiving your K-1 nonimmigrant visa, it’s a good idea to book your itinerary to the United States. K-1 visa holders also need to prepare, as mentioned, for their final “interview” with a CBP officer at a U.S. port of entry. Visa holders, after a long international flight, might be exhausted when this brief interview takes place. It’s a good idea to plan out some responses to potential questions that way you know what you’re going to say. Such questions asked by an officer might include:
- Where does your fiancé live?
- Have you made a wedding date yet?
- Where did you meet your fiancé?
- Are you carrying any medication or supplies that will last you longer than 90 days?
- Are you planning on applying for an adjustment of status (green card)?
Be sure not to give the CBP officer any reason to doubt that you are not going to get married or that you actually are planning on overstaying your visa without filing for an adjustment of status.
Upon arriving in the U.S, the U.S. citizen (sponsor) and the K-1 visa holder must get married within 90 days to retain their K-1 status. After marriage, the applicant can file an adjustment of status to get a green card. Click here to see how to go from K-1 Visa to Adjustment of Status.