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Fiancé K-1 visas

What exactly is the K-1 visa?

There are any number of reasons that people immigrate to the United States. One primary reasons is to marry a U.S. citizen. Any U.S. citizen desiring to bring to this country his or her fiancé who is a foreign national who is living abroad, in order to get married, needs to petition for a K-1 visa.

A K-1 visa will permit the foreign fiancé to come to this county and marry his or her sponsor within 90 days after arrival. The fiancé will then have to apply to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the adjustment of his or her status to permanent resident. Applicants for K-1 visas will also be allowed to petition for K-2 visas for their children.

Who exactly is a "fiancé"?

Both the United States citizen and his or her fiancé must be legally qualified to marry when the K-1 petition is filed, and must remain so. In other words, the marriage must be legal according to federal law and to the state law where the marriage takes place.

Additionally, the foreign fiancé and the citizen sponsor must have originally met in person not later than two years prior to the application, although the state department may grant exceptions to the requirement for a number of reasons (where, for example, it is an extreme hardship to meet the fiancé personally, or it is against the fiancé's culture for couples to meet before getting married). Lastly, the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005, which deals with background checks, has detailed requirements that must be followed.

What documentation do you need?

At some point after the petition is filed for the visa, the U.S. citizen and his or her fiancé will be invited to an interview at the embassy located in the foreign country. They should each bring the following completed documents with them:

  • Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
  • Divorce or death certificates of previous spouses
  • Passports
  • Medical examinations
  • Police certificates from countries where the fiancé had resided for at least six months since turning 16 years of age
  • Two photographs (2 x 2)
  • Financial support evidence
  • Fee payments
  • Evidence proving the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the fiancé

It should be noted that certain activities and conditions may result in the applicant not being eligible for the visa, including: Submitting documents that are fraudulent, overstaying a visa previously issued, and trafficking in drugs.

How long is the wait?

Once the case is received by the United States Embassy, the length of time needed to process it will vary according to the total circumstances. There may be a delay because instructions have not been followed carefully or incomplete information has been supplied, such as telephone numbers and mailing addresses. Some applications simply require additional administrative processing.

Once the K-1 visa is issued, however, the recipient will be given a sealed packet which contains all of the documents that had been provided, plus additional documents that are prepared by the American Embassy. This packet should not be opened by the visa holder, as only an immigration official may open it once the fiancé enters the United States.


If you are planning to marry a foreign national, it may be a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration attorney, who will lead you through the legal requirements mentioned above, to make sure that your fiancé is in the position to be properly admitted into the United States.

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