K Visa FAQ - K1 Fiance Visa, K3 Spousal Visa and other Marriage Based Immigration Questions
A Complete guide for obtaining a K1 and K3 (plus derivitive) Visa, immigrating, and becoming a US Citizen.
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of Service before continuing.
Section 3.0...THE I-129F PETITION
(completed by the American Citizen)
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Frequently Asked Questions:
3.1)...I am engaged to a foreign national. What do I
do to bring my fiance(e) here to get married?
3.1.1)...So how does the whole I-129f petition work and how does my petition get to the consulate/embassy?
3.2)...How do I obtain the I-129F and what other forms do I need?
3.2.1)...Do I have to send in my original birth certificate, passport,
or originals of other forms?
3.2.2)...How should a latin name (first name, fathers
last name, mothers last name) be put on the I-129F?
3.2.3)...The instructions state the photos must be
taken within 30 days of the petition or application. How critical is
3.3)...So what Affidavit am I *really* supposed to use? The I-134
or the I-864?
3.3.1)...Where can I get someone to notarize my documents?
3.4)...I filled out the forms, now where do I send them? Should I
make extra copies of anything?
3.4.1)...Should I send a cover letter with the I-129F petition package?
3.5)...When I send the application package, should I request "return
3.6)...How does the US Citizen know the petition has been "officially"
3.7)...How does the US Citizen know the petition has been approved?
3.7.1)...My fiance(e)'s name was spelled incorrectly on the I-797
Approval Notice. What should I do?
3.8)...(This item deleted...info is now at question 3.2)
3.9)...(this item is deleted)
3.9.1....(this item is deleted)
3.10)...I'm trying to find out how old the U.S. citizen
needs to be to file an application for K-1 visa for a foreign fiance[e].
Is it 18 or 21?
3.11)...Is there a special visa status for a fiance(e)
from Mexico (south near Mexico city) or do I need to go through the
normal fiancee visa process ?
3.12)...Do we need a lawyer to help us through the process?
3.14)...How often are these I-129F petitions rejected?
3.15)...Can I, while my fiancee will apply for a I-129F
package, be with her in the US ? So we can stay together while the application
is being processed or do I have to go to Holland again ?
3.16)...Does anyone have any words of reassurance that
we aren't looked upon as complete freaks for meeting on the net and
falling in love (by the USCIS (INS) or the US Embassy anyway)?
3.1)...I am engaged to a foreign national. What
do I do to bring my fiance(e) here to get married?
A..Provided you are a US Citizen, you begin by filing an I-129F, petition
for fiance(e) visa. As part of the initial petition process, you will
be required to show that you have personally met your fiance(e) within
the previous 2 years. It is difficult to obtain an exception to this
rule. If your fiance(e) has unmarried children under 21, they can move
to the US also. List all children under age 21 on the I-129F petition,
whether or not they are going to move to the United States. When this
petition is approved, the fiance(e) can apply for the K1/K2 visa. The
K2 visa is used for the children. Any procedures applicable for the
K1 visa are automatically applied to the children.
3.1.1)...So how does the whole I-129f petition
process work and how does my petition get to the consulate/embassy?
A..I-129f petitions are sent to a USCIS Service Center where,
once received and processed, a "receipt" Notice of Action (NOA)
Form I-797 (often called NOA1) is created
and sent to the original petitioner (US Citizen). This NOA1 is your
proof that the Service Center has received your petition. At this point
the I-129f resides in the mail/storage facility of the Service Center
until it is due to be processed by an adjudicator. The time this takes
depends on how many petitions are ahead of you and the rate at which
they are processed. Typically entire boxes of I-129f's are moved into
the adjudication office and distributed amungst adjudicators as they
request more to be completed. Each adjudicator is given a stack to process.
As they run out another box is brought in. Since each adjudicator may
process at different speeds petitions may be adjudicated (to a degree)
out of the order on the original NOA1 (I-797).
If an adjudicator needs additional evidence for an I-129f they will
place the file in a "hold" area while they create and send
to the petitioner a Request for Evidence (RFE). The petitioner will
then be sent the RFE with a special cover sheet that when used (the
petitioner includes this with their reply to the RFE), will automatically
direct the Service Centers mail room to forward that piece of mail back
to the original I-129f petition and combine the two. The I-129f is then
ready to be again adjudicated. Once an I-129f petition is either approved
or denied a notice is sent to the original petitioner in the form of
another Notice of Action Form I-797 (often called NOA2). For an approved
I-129f petition, the NOA2 will include
details on what to expect next, an A# (Alien File Number used by the USCIS)
established for the case (for
the non US Citizen beneficiary), a date of approval and several other
details. At this point the approved I-129f is then sent to the National
Visa Center (NVC).
For K-1 Visa's the NVC's role is to process the file, run initial background
checks on beneficiary, repackage the I-129f and then send it to the
recipient Consulate/Embassy. An internal tracking code for the I-129f
package is generated and sent to the US Citizen petitioner. As the NVC
rapidly processes I-129f packages for K-1 Visa's this notice often reaches
the petitioner after the NVC has sent the package to the Consulate/Embassy.
The internal processing from receiving to mailing out the petition generally
takes about a week at the NVC (although sometimes longer). When the
NVC does send the package out to the Embassy it is typically sent via
DHL which takes on average three days to get to the destination (embassy).
3.2)...How do I obtain the I-129F and what other
forms do I need?
A.. The easiest way is to download the I-129F and all required documents from the internet. A list of all the forms needed and links to download them can be found in the K1 Visa Guide
can also see example of completed forms here. The official USCIS
forms (do not fill out example forms -- they are for reference only) can be filled out online and printed.
In short you will require the following forms and items when filing an I-129F:
||Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted.
||Cover Letter (see example). Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-129F), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet.
||Form I-129F: Petition for Alien Fiance(e) (see example)
||Declaration of how you met in person in the last two years. This should be a single typed page regarding question 18 of the I-129F. Make sure to sign and date it.
||Original statements (from both the US Citizen and foreign fiance) certifying an intent to marry within 90 days of entering the US on a valid K-1. (see example)
||Proof of having met in past two years. (click here for examples)
||One passport-type photo (see specification) of the US Citizen. Write the full name of the US citizen on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of <Insert US Citizen's Name>". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-`a.
||One passport-type photo (see specification) of the foreign fiance(e). Write the full name of the foreign fiance(e) on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of (insert foreign fiance(e) name) ".
||Copy of the Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen's passport issued with a validity of at least 5 years or a copy of the US Citizen's naturalization certificate (front and back). This is used to establish citizenship.
||Copy of final Divorce Decree(s) or Certificate(s) for the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) if either has been previously married. If the previous marriage of the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) ended due to the death of their spouse then include a Copy of Death Certificate(s) documenting that fact.
||Proof of Legal Name Change if either the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) is using a name other than that shown on the relevant documents. You must give USCIS copies of the legal documents that made the change, such as a marriage certificate, adoption decree or court order.
||In regards to Section C Question 2, if applicable provide certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions for any specified conviction(s) (in accordance with the IMBRA). See section 9 of the I-129f instructions for more information.
*Please note, while you are allowed to submit an I-134 Affidavit of Support with the I-129F package,
it is not required and the embassy may eventually request that you submit the same information again
to ensure that it is still valid. Typically the I-134 Affidavit of Support will be filled out by
the US Citizen and sent to the fiance(e) for the K1 interview. It is
not required to be sent to the Service Center with the I-129F (and not
recommended). Some Consulates require extra information to be included
with the Affidavit, so you need to hang onto it until you have learned
whether or not there are additional requirements. These will be listed
on the OF-167 "financial support" document the fiance(e) receives from
the Consulate. You can also refer questions to the newsgroup about experiences
regarding the Affidavit. (Also go and look at question 4.3.1)
FAQ Note about evidence of having met in person. You need to send copies of evidence
that you and your fiance(e) have met personally within the previous
two years. Items such items as photos, copies of passport stamps, copies
of airline tickets, help prove this. In the past many petitioners faced
a delay when the USCIS (INS) sent them a request for additional evidence
or information. In addition, the I-129F indicates the USCIS (INS) wants
"original statements" from the US Citizen and foreign fiance(e) regarding
mutual intent to marry within 90 days, plus "copies of any evidence
you wish to submit to establish your mutual intent". ("Original statements"
can be a simple letter stating that you do indeed intend to marry within
90 days. Each of you can write such a letter, or a single letter can
be written and signed by both of you. See an example here)
3.2.1)...Do I have to send in my original birth
certificate, passport, or Naturalization certificate?
A....Copies of these documents are sufficient for the initial petition.
You must be prepared to submit original documents only if USCIS (INS)
requests that you submit them (in response to a "Request for Evidence" or RFE.
A.... If needed due to an RFE, you can contact the county clerk where you were born
and get a certified copy of your birth certificate. (Note: you will
pay a few dollars for this, but you usually can get more than one copy.
All US Citizens should have a certified copy of their birth certificate,
but it is surprising how many can't seem to find it when they need it.)
3.2.2)...How should a latin name
(first name, fathers last name, mothers last name) be put on the I-129F?
A..What others have done successfully is to use the first
(fathers) last name on the forms. Then in the cover letter, state the
full name including both last names and that you are only using the
first (fathers) last name on the forms.
3.2.3)...The instructions state the photos must
be taken within 30 days of the petition or application. How critical
A..If you do not anticipate a significant change in your
appearance, get the pix taken and don't worry about the date. As long
as there are no dates on the pix and they look like you, everything
should be fine.
3.3)...So what Affidavit am I *really* supposed
to use? The I-134 or the I-864?
A..The I-134 is still used for some visa applications, including the
K1. Good advice here is to also inquire at the foreign consulate about
any particular additional requirements. You can also refer questions
to the newsgroup to inquire about recent experiences. Your fiance(e)
needs the I-134 affidavit for the actual visa interview at the foreign
consulate, so you will not be sending it with the I-129F petition. You
will send the I-134 affidavit to your fiance(e).
Although the I-134 does not state minimum income requirements, there
is a near 100% chance you will be required to show 125% of the poverty
level for your household including your fiance(e) and any children.
(See the link in the references section for Poverty Level guidelines).
If you do not meet these requirements, you must still file an I-134,
but you will need a co-sponsor who does meet the guidelines. The co-sponsor
also fills out an I-134 affidavit.
You should make a COMPLETE copy of EVERYTHING in your affidavit package.
If you decide to send or fill out the I-134 (instead of waiting until the embassy requests it later)
make sure sign and date it (you are no longer required to have it notarized on the new I-134 form). You WILL use the I-864 affidavit
when filing the I-485 application for adjustment after marriage, so
you should begin learning about it now.
3.3.1)...Where can I get someone to notarize my
A..The best place is at a bank, credit union, or savings and loan institution.
If you do business with one, the services will usually be free. If not,
each "signature" will cost a few dollars.
3.4)...I filled out the forms, now where do I send
them? Should I make extra copies of anything?
A..The American citizen should send the I-129F and all supporting documentation to the USCIS
(INS) service center having jurisdiction over their place of residence (ie:
California or Vermont Service Centers). This is not the state or local USCIS (INS)
Note to save some time: When your I-129F has been approved,
either wait until the embassy requests the I-134 or work ahead and complete
and send the I-134 Affidavit to your fiance(e) for the visa interview a ahead of time (call the embassy
and ask if they require anything additional with the I-134).
Make a COMPLETE copy of the ENTIRE I-129F petition package.
You should even have extra original photos. Don't send originals of
your divorce decrees or passport. Send copies and attach a statement
that the originals are available.
3.4.1...Should I send a cover letter with the
I-129F petition package?
A...A cover letter is not required, but it is a good idea to have one.
It can be used to list all the documents submitted with the package,
and can also be used to explain "how you met". See an example here.
Making a cover sheet also helps to keep you organized and prevent you from forgetting anything!
3.5)...When I send the application package, should
I request "return receipt"?
A..Yes. Go to the Post Office and mail it in person. You will feel better
when you get the receipt in the mail a few days later, and you will
know that your application has made it as far as the USCIS (INS) mailroom.
3.6)...How does the US Citizen know the petition
has been "officially" received?
A..The Citizen will receive an I-797 "Notice of Action" from the USCIS
(INS). People refer to this as the NOA1. You will likely get this a couple weeks after you mail the I-129f Package. The notice may
say how long it usually takes to process the applications and will give
you a "receipt number" by which you can obtain "case status information"
direct from the "automated system". You can check the status here.
3.7)...How does the US Citizen know the petition
has been approved?
A..The Citizen will receive another I-797 "Notice of Action" from the
USCIS (INS), which is the actual "approval notice". This is often known
as the NOA2. It should have the same "receipt number" as the first NOA.
Keep this form in a safe place. Approval times can vary. Check here for the current processing times.
This approval notice will specify the following:
- The name of the beneficiary. This is the fiance(e). Children are
not mentioned on the Notice of Action (approval notice), although
info about them is forwarded to the consulate.
- An "A" number (by which the case can be tracked through the USCIS internal system).
- The US Consulate where the visa processing will occur.
- The "validity dates" of the petition approval, a 4 month period
of time during which the fiance(e) must complete the requirements
for the visa. (May not be on every approval notice, but that doesn't
mean there is time to waste). Note: This validity period may be extended at the consulate if needed.
- Instructions for filing form I-824, if another consulate should
be notified for visa processing purposes.
At this time, the approved I-129f package will be sent to the NVC and
then forwarded to the foreign US consulate, at which point the fiance(e)
will be notified. The fiance(e) is responsible for applying for the
Special Note - Do not assume this I-797 "approval notice" is
a form letter. Read it carefully, front and back. A copy of the approval
notice must be submitted with your I-485 Adjustment of Status application
and is also sometimes required by the fiance(e) at their interview. Do not lose it and make duplicate copies!!
3.7.1)...My fiance(e)'s name was spelled incorrectly
on the I-797 Approval Notice. What should I do?
A...In the past, all you had to do is get through to your
Service Center and correct the spelling over the phone. This is no longer
possible (as the Service Centers do not receive direct calls) and you
will have to call the National Customer Service Center for the USCIS.
Their number is: 1 (800) 375-5283.
3.8)...(This item deleted....info is now at question 3.2)
3.9)...(This item deleted)
3.9.1....(This item deleted)
3.10)...I'm trying to find out how
old the U.S. citizen needs to be to file an application for K-1 visa
for a foreign fiance[e]. Is it 18 or 21?
A..According to the USCIS (INS), "Both petitioner and beneficiary
must be legally able and willing to conclude a valid marriage in the
United States." I would presume that if one can conclude a valid marriage
at age 18, then 18 would be acceptable.
A..For those under age 21, but over age 18 in some places,
this requires a letter of consent from both sets of parents. The signatures
on these letters of consent should be duly notarized, certified copies
made, and one set submitted with the I-129F application.
3.11)...Is there a special visa status
for a fiance(e) from Mexico (south near Mexico city) or do I need to
go through the normal fiancee visa process ?
A..Petitions from Mexico and Canada go through the same
processes as other countries. You must file the same forms and affidavits
and will be subject to the same responsibilities.
3.12)...Do we need a lawyer to help us through
A..You do not "need" a lawyer. If you can read and understand the forms,
you and your fiance(e) can do it yourselves. You can also refer questions
to the newsgroup. However, if you feel uncomfortable, unsure, or you
just don't have the time to do the job yourselves, hiring an attorney
experienced in fiance(e) visa procedures is certainly an option, and
may help to reduce your worry and stress. Your attorney should be a
member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (aila.com).
A...IF your case is uncomplicated (fiance has no significant
criminal record that might disqualify or other problem factors), you
can in most cases do this yourself easily. All it takes is willingness to deal with
the paperwork and attention to detail. A lawyer is helpful if you have any question you can not find answers to
or if you lack the time or understanding to complete the forms on your own.
*If your fiance has a criminal record you may want to read the Criminal Record
3.14)...How often are these I-129F petitions rejected?
A.. In reading postings from the newsgroup, rarely. The I-129F petition
is processed by the USCIS (INS) in the United States. This first stage
is usually trouble-free, though some petitioners worry too much and
get nervous. There are certainly cases however where additional information
is requested by the USCIS (an RFE) or where the petition is even denied. Denials are
statistically a small minority of submissions however.
3.15)...Can I, while my fiancee will
apply for a I-129F package, be with her in the US ? So we can stay together
while the application is being processed or do I have to go to back home
A..As long as you do not go beyond your visa expiration date and leave
in plenty of time to do your part of the application then it should
be ok. Many couples file the I-129F while the fiance(e) is in the US.
However, the visa application itself is accomplished in the fiance(e)s
home country, so the fiance(e) must return home to complete the visa
application process and the interview at the US Consulate. So the bottom line is that you
should follow all USCIS rules if you are here int he US and if your visa requires you to
return home on a certain date that you do so on time.
3.16)...Does anyone have any words
of reassurance that we aren't looked upon as complete freaks for meeting
on the net and falling in love (by the USCIS (INS) or the US Embassy
A...You, me and about, ohhhhh, probably 80% of the people
using this forum (met on the net). USCIS (INS) doesn't care that you
met online initially. Just that you HAVE met face to face. Also, to make you feel better,
think of the number of your friends who met people online that live here in the US! Meeting
people online is very common!
This FAQ is located at http://www.visajourney.com/faq/k1faq.htm