Fiance(e) Visa (K-1)

U.S. citizens may file petitions for their foreign national fiance(e)s living abroad. To that end, the criteria for a K-1 fiance(e) petition are:

  • No legal bars preventing visa issuance;
  • Genuine engagement (intent to marry) between U.S. citizen petitioner and foreign national beneficiary;
  • Foreign national beneficiary seeks to enter the U.S. solely to marry his/her U.S. citizen petitioner;
  • Both the U.S. citizen petitioner and foreign national beneficiary must be legally free to marry each other; and
  • The marriage must occur within 90 days after entry.

These are discussed below.

No Legal Bars That Would Prevent Visa Issuance

There are several reasons why a bar to visa issuance might be present in a K-1 visa matter.

  • Petitioner’s criminal conviction(s);
    • Certain criminal convictions may disqualify a U.S. citizen from petitioning for a foreign fiance(e). These convictions are defined in Section 111(7) of the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). Under the AWA a U.S. citizen who is convicted of a “specified offense against a minor” is prohibited from petitioning for a fiance(e) unless the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in its “unreviewable discretion” determines that the U.S. citizen poses no risk to the beneficiary. A “specified offense against a minor” is an offense or an attempt or consipiracy to commit such an offense against a minor that involves any of the following: (A) kidnapping (unless by a parent or guardian); (B) false imprisonment (unless by a parent or guardian); (C) solicitation to engate in sexual conduct; (D) use in a sexual performance; (E) solicitation to practice prostitution; (F) video voyeurism as described in 18 U.S.C. Section 1801; (G) possession, production or distribution of child pornography; (H) criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, or the use of the internet to facilitate or attempt such conduct; or (I) any conduct that by its nature is a “sex offense against a minor.” For more on this topic, visit Waiver of Criminal Bar under Adam Walsh Act.
  • Illegal marriage;
    • The purported marriage would need to be legal in the jurisdiction where the marriage will be performed. For example, marriage to 14 year old girl was found to be illegal in Matter of Manjoukis, 13 I&N Dec. 705 (DD 1971). Also, if a divorce in a prior marriage has not yet been finalized, a couple may not marry. See Matter of Souza, 14 I&N Dec. 1 (RC 1972).
  • Foreign national beneficiary is inadmissible; and
  • Too many prior petitions.

Genuine engagement (intent to marry) between U.S. citizen petitioner and foreign national beneficiary

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Foreign national beneficiary seeks to enter the U.S. solely to marry his/her U.S. citizen petitioner

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Both the U.S. citizen petitioner and foreign national beneficiary must be legally free to marry each other

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The marriage must occur within 90 days after entry

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Procedure for Obtaining a K-1 visa

The first step is to file the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Relative along with the proper filing fee and required supporting evidence with USCIS.

Once the Form I-129F is approved, the case will be transferred to the U.S. State Department (DOS). The first stop at DOS is the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign a case number and forward the approved petition to whichever U.S. Consulate will be processing the K-1 visa.

When the U.S. Consulate receives the case it will instruct the foreign national beneficiary on additional steps needed to complete the processing of the visa. For example, the Consulate will instruct the beneficiary to do the following:

  • obtain the required civil documents (birth certificate, passport, divorce decree(s), etc.). These will vary by country;
  • obtain the financial support documents from the U.S. citizen petitioner;
  • complete a Form DS-160;
  • pay the MRV fee;
  • complete a medical examination with a DOS-designated “panel physician.”

Once these steps are completed, the beneficiary may be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. Consulate.

At the interview, the Consular Officer (CO) will attempt to determine whether the beneficiary is admissible to the U.S., and whether the relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner is genuine and bona fide. Questions asked will vary and will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.

If the K-1 visa is granted, the beneficiary will be required to hand over his/her passport to the CO for visa stamping, which usually takes 10-15 business days. Once the passport is delivered back to the beneficiary, s/he may make travel arrangements to the U.S.

Once the beneficiary arrives in the U.S. s/he must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry.

After marriage, the beneficiary can apply for a green card through Adjustment of Status.

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Resources on K-1 Fiance(e) Visas

We provide the following resources for the prospective employment-based permanent residence applicant.

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