You have met the love of your life overseas and you want to apply for a fiancé visa so they can come to the United States to marry you. Certainly, it seems that the government should not stand in the way of true love, but applying for a fiancé visa is a quest filled with paperwork and interviews that require strategic planning. The fiancé visa process is so fraught with uncertainties and drama that it is the basis for a reality TV show and multiple spin-offs.
A fiancé visa is called a K-1 visa, and it enables your fiancé to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying you if you both meet the requirements. The K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, but after you are married, your new spouse may apply for permanent residence status (a “green card”) using the “adjustment of status” process. Your fiancé will not need to leave the United States for this process.
Should you get married first and bring your spouse to the United States on a spouse visa instead of a fiancé K-1 visa? There are a lot of factors to consider, and this is definitely something you will want to discuss with your immigration attorney before applying for either type of visa.
Requirements for the K-1 Fiancé Visa
The requirements for a K-1 fiancé visa include
- U.S. Citizen: The partner who is the petitioner in the United States must be a U.S. citizen. Green card holders are not eligible to sponsor K-1 visas.
- Free to Marry: This should be obvious, but both partners must be eligible to marry. If the foreign partner was married before, they must show evidence of the end of the marriage with a divorce decree, annulment or death certificate.
- Same-Sex Ok: The partners may be of the same sex. The laws of the country of the foreign partner are irrelevant.
- Intent to Marry within 90 Days: You are barely going to have time to plan a wedding once your K-1 visa is approved, because you must marry within 90 days after the foreign fiancé enters the United States. A fiancé visa is not for those who need time to get to know each other better. You must convince USCIS agents that you intend to marry within this time period and provide signed statements to that effect. If you have done any wedding planning such as reserving a reception hall, provide receipts.
- Legitimate Relationship: Naturally, the United States wants to prevent green card marriages. Therefore, you need to show evidence of the validity of your relationship. Discuss this with your immigration attorney, but such evidence may include photographs of the two of you together, written statements from friends who know you intent to marry, hotel reservations and flight itineraries of trips you took together, correspondence between the partners such as letters, emails and instant messaging.
- In-Person Meeting: You must have met with your fiancé in person at least once within the last two years and provide evidence of that. You may be able to get around this requirement if you can show evidence of extreme hardship or that meeting in person would be defy cultural or religious norms.
- Income Requirement: The petitioning spouse in the U.S. must meet a minimum income requirement of at last 100% of the Department of Health and Human Services poverty guideline for their state. This amount is adjusted annually. If the petitioning spouse cannot meet this requirement, a joint financial sponsor can file a supplemental “affidavit of support.”
These are just the basic requirements. Consular offices may vary and there may be more requirements in some countries. A good immigration lawyer will carefully analyze your situation so they can accurately advise you of all the requirements you must meet.
Process for Applying for the K-1 Fiancé Visa
Once you are certain you and your partner meet all the requirements for a K-1 fiancé visa, it’s time to start the process.
- If you are the U.S. partner, you must file an I-12F petition for Alien Fiancé with the required fee along with documentary proof of your relationship including the items mentioned above in the requirements to show a legitimate relationship. You will also have to show evidence of other requirements such as that both you and your fiancé are free to marry
- In a few weeks, the USCIS will send you a Form I-797 Notice of Action acknowledging receipt.
- If the USCIS approves your petition, they will send another Notice of Action telling you so and will also send your petition to the National Visa Center for handling. Finally, the petition will be transferred to the U.S. embassy or consulate for your fiancé’s location.
- Your fiancé will then apply to the local U.S. embassy or consulate, which will ask them to provide a list of supporting documents. Your fiancé will also be interviewed.
- The consular office will either approve or deny your K-1 fiancé visa. If they deny it, you may reapply.
- Once the K-1 visa is approved, your fiancé can enter the United States. However, it is still possible (though certainly unusual) for an officer of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deny entry.
- You have 90 days to get married.
- If your foreign spouse wants to remain in the U.S., they can apply for permanent residence status (a green card) after your marriage.
How Long Does It Take to Get a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
The length of time it takes to get a fiancé visa varies according to the completeness of the information and evidence you and your fiancé provide as well as your foreign fiancé’s location. However, it usually takes about six to nine months to get a K-1 fiancé visa.
What Does It Cost to Get a K-1 Fiancé Visa?
Costs for applying for a fiancé visa change each year. As of right now, expect to pay
- Filing Form I-129F: $535
- Consulate Fee: $265
- Adjustment of Status including Biometric Fee (assuming the foreign spouse wants to stay in the U.S.): $1,225
The total is $2,025 for government fees, but sometimes there are incremental costs.
Call Ghazi Law Group for a Free Consultation
If you and your foreign partner are considering applying for a fiancé visa or wonder if this is the best option for you, contact our experienced immigration attorneys at Ghazi Law Group for a free consultation at (818) 839-6644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. Don’t try to navigate the complex K-1 fiancé visa process on your own. Our immigration clients are located across the United States and the world, but we are in Sherman Oaks, California, close to Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City and other areas of Los Angeles County.