K-1 Visas for Fiancé(e)s of U.S. Citizens

Purpose of a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa

The K-1 fiancé(e) visa is the most effective way for U.S. citizens to bring their fiancé(e)s to the United States. Only U.S. citizens may sponsor their fiancé(e)s for a K-1 visa. Permanent residents cannot sponsor their fiancé(e)s for a K-1 visa.

The K-1 visa allows the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e) and then apply for permanent residency based on marriage to the U.S. citizen.

To qualify for a K-1 visa, a person must:

  • Have personally met his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within the past two years;
  • The requirement of a personal meeting may be waived if it would cause extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen, or if complying would violate traditional customs of the fiancé(e)'s home country. However, such waivers are rare.
  • Have a good faith intention to marry the U.S. citizen who sponsored the K-1 visa;
  • Be legally able and willing to marry upon arrival in the United States; and
  • Meet all of the other requirements to be admitted as an immigrant to the United States.

K-1 visa holders are not allowed to change their status to another nonimmigrant classification or apply to extend their status in the United States. They must marry within 90 days of arrival in the United States and then apply for permanent residency based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Applying for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa

A U.S. citizen whose fiancé(e) is not in the United States and whose marriage will take place in the United States must complete and file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).

Upon approval by the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the I-129F Petition is forwarded to the Department of State National Visa Center. At this point a background check is initiated for both the U.S. citizen and the fiancé(e). After the background check is complete, the petition is sent to the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad where the U.S. citizen’s fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 visa.

The fiancé(e) has four months from the approval of the petition to apply for his or her K-1 visa. The embassy or consulate will interview the fiancé(e), and the fiancé(e) must undergo a medical exam.

Once the fiancé(e) is issued a K-1 visa, he or she has six months to enter the United States. The marriage must take place within 90 days of the date the fiancé(e) enters the United States. If the marriage does not take place within the required 90 days or the fiancé(e) marries someone other than the United States citizen who petitioned for him or her, the fiancé(e) will have to leave the United States.

Immediately upon marriage, the non-U.S. citizen spouse should apply for adjustment of status to permanent residency.

Children of K-1 Visa Applicants

Unmarried children under twenty-one years of age of K-1 visa applicants are eligible to apply for a K-2 visa, which will allow them to accompany their parents to the United States.