Step-by-Step Guide on How to File for a K-1 Fiance Visa for your Foreign Fiance
NOTE: For an overview of the entire K-1 Fiance Visa process, please see the K-1 Fiance Visa Flowchart.
What is a K-1 Fiance Visa?
A K-1 Visa (also known as a Fiance Visa) is a nonimmigrant visa Visa issued to the fiancé(e) of a United States citizen. The K-1 Visa allows the visa holder to enter the United States for up to 90 days during which time they may get married and file for Adjustment of Status (to obtain a "green card" and become a Legal Permanent Resident of the US). After filing for Adjustment of Status they may reside in the US beyond the 90 day K-1 Visa validity while their Adjustment of Status application is processed. While the K-1 Visa is legally classified as a non-immigrant visa, it usually leads to important immigration benefits and is therefore often processed by the Immigrant Visa section of United States Embassies and Consulates worldwide. If the non US Citizen fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 non-immigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of the children on the I-129F petition.
Who is Eligible to File?
U.S. citizens who will be getting married to a foreign national in the United States may petition for a fiancé(e) classification (K-1) for their fiancé(e). You and your fiancé(e) must be free to marry. This means that both of you are unmarried, or that any previous marriages have ended through divorce, annulment or death. You must also have met with your fiancé(e) in person within the last two years prior beginning the K-1 Visa petition process (filing the I-129F). This requirement can be waived only if meeting the non US Citizen's fiancé(e) in person would violate long-established customs, or if it would create extreme hardship on the US Citizen.
Forms Needed to File for a K-1 Fiance Visa:
2. G-1145 (optional)
The above forms can be filled out on your computer and printed. Make sure you sign and date them as required. Anything you cannot fit by typing, you can handwrite (very neatly) in black ink in the blank instead. You should always verify the current forms at www.uscis.gov.
Assembling the I-129F Package: Checklist
Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.):
1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees. 2. 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. 3. Form I-129F: Petition for Alien Fiance (see example) 4. 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) 5. Proof of having met in past two years. To organize this information you can create a single typed page with the following elements: (1) Title the page 'Evidence of In-Person Meeting in the last 2 years'; (2) A description of how you met (same as you stated in Part 2 Question 53-54 of your I-129F); (3) A list of the evidence you are providing; (4) Your printed name, signature and date. Following this declaration page, provide the evidence you listed (click here for examples). 6. 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 I-129F. 7. One passport-type photo (see specification) of the foreign fiance. Write the full name of the foreign fiance on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of (insert foreign fiance name) ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding I-129F. 8. 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. 9. Copy of final Divorce Decree(s) or Certificate(s) for the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance if either has been previously married. If the previous marriage of the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance ended due to the death of their spouse then include a Copy of Death Certificate(s) documenting that fact. 10. Proof of Legal Name Change if either the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance 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. 11. In regards to Part 3 of the I-129F, 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 Part 3 of the I-129F instructions for more information.
Documentary Proof of Having Met in Person in the Past Two Years and an Ongoing Relationship:
Use as many of these items are possible. There is no minimum, but the more you can provide the less likely you are that you will receive an RFE. Additionally, please note that providing proof of your ongoing and genuine relationship in this package may benefit you by allowing the consulate to have access to this information prior to them formally contacting the non US Citizen fiance. Many high risk consulates approach cases with a skeptical eye and providing this information early on in the original I-129F package will help them in their preliminary review of your case.
1. Copies of all airline boarding passes, train passes, itineraries, hotel receipts, passport stamps (make sure you can read the dates on the stamps), and other documentary evidence that you have met within the last two years. You may want to highlight or place post-it notes indicating the dates and locations on the copies (to make the adjudication easier) for the person reviewing your file. 2. Color Photo's of you and your fiance together. Make sure you write your names, date, and location on the back of every photo. Provide two to five photo's. If you only have a single copy of the photo, then make a color copy and send that. If it is a digital photo, have it printed at a local photo store such as Walgreens (if at all possible) or if not on a high quality printer. Place photo's in a plastic bag or photo sheet and label the sheet. Note that you may not receive originals of photo's back. 3. The following items will not typically show proof of having met in the last two years however will show proof of an ongoing relationship: Copies of land line and cell phone bills, appropriate letters and emails, stamps on the letters (to document the date they were sent), and other written documentary proof. Provide a reasonable amount; two to four of each type. Pick a range of dates up to and including the present. You can also include a copy of engagement ring receipt (this is something that is a big optional - do not worry if you do not have a ring yet!)
Attach "E-Notification" Form (Optional)
Clip a completed G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to the first page of your application (on top of the cover page). By completing this form and attaching it, USCIS will send you an email and/or text message to alert you when your application was received.
Make TWO copies of the entire package before you send it in. This includes the money orders too. You want to have a perfect replica of the package you are sending in. All Forms that you submit must be originals with original signatures. Supporting Evidence that you submit may be photocopies. Retain ALL original supporting Evidence since the USCIS has the right to check them by issuing an RFE (Request For Evidence). If you receive an RFE, follow the direction exactly, and make two copies of what you sent back. During any future interviews the USCIS may also want to examine the original supporting evidence.
Create a VJ Timeline
What to send to your fiance once the I-129F is approved (Receive NOA2):
1. A copy of the entire I-129f package (that you made when you sent the petition in) and a copy of information that you sent back due to an RFE (if you received one). Your fiance should review this information in advance of the interview (the embassy will have copies of this as well). 2. Send copies of the documentary proof that you submitted with the I-129F for your fiance to have on hand for their interview at the embassy. Your fiance should review this information in advance of the interview (the embassy will have copies of this as well). 3. Send an original letter affirming your desire to marry your fiance and your continued support of the K-1 Visa. Sign and date the form. This will be similar to the letter you provided with the I-129F, but dated much closer to the interview (it will have most likely been several months since you submitted your I-129F). 4. I-134 Affidavit of Support form. Ensure it is signed, with all required supporting evidence. Begin collecting the required information ahead of time, as it can often take several weeks to collect it all. 5. You will need several items (for the above form). Gather duplicate evidence of income and resources as appropriate:
(A) Statement from an officer of the bank/financial institution with your deposits, identifying the following: 1. date account opened; 2. total amount deposited for the past year; 3. present balance
(B) Statement(s) from your employer on business stationary showing: 1. Date and nature of employment; 2. salary paid; 3. whether position is temporary or permanent (also include copies of your last two pay stubs and your previous W-2 for the associated employer if available)
(C) If Self Employed: 1. Copy of last income tax return filed (or IRS transcripts); or 2. report of commercial rating concern
(D) List containing serial numbers and denominations of bonds and name of record owner(s).
Begin collecting these ASAP after your NOA2 arrives. See this FAQ for more tips and useful information on the Affidavit of Support Form.
6. A copy of the NOA2 that you received in the mail. (backup information; the embassy will have copies of this as well) 7. Proof of your ongoing relationship. This needs to be taken to the interview! Include photos, travel documents, emails, online chat logs (pick several over the prior few months), etc.. from between the time you filed and present (NOA1 until date-now).
Examples: Copies of land line and cell phone bills, appropriate emails and letters you have sent including the stamps on envelopes (to document the date they were sent), and other written documentary proof. Provide a reasonable amount; two to four of each type. Pick a range of dates up to and including the present. You can also include a copy of engagement ring receipt (this is something that is a big optional - do not worry if you do not have a ring yet!)
NOTE: Tip Regarding Vaccination Records
The K-1/2 beneficiary will be required by the embassy to have a "medical" done prior to the visa interview. Part of this interview will require that previous vaccinations are documented and potentially additional required vaccinations performed. Once this is complete the doctor will note this on a DS-3025 form that will be sent to the embassy. During the medical appointment request an official copy of the vaccination records from the physician (or a copy of the completed DS-3025 if they will give it to you) as this will be helpful to have on hand in the future (specifically it can be helpful when filing for Adjustment of Status if your DS-3025 form is not available).
After the K-1 Fiance Visa is Approved:
Upon entering the US on a K-1 Visa, the visa holder must get married to the original I-129F sponsor (for the K-1 Visa) within 90 days. If the marriage does not take place within 90 days or the K-1 Visa holder marries someone other than the original US Citizen who petitioned for them, the K-1 Visa holder will be required to leave the United States. Until the marriage takes place, the K-1 visa holder is considered a non-immigrant. A non-immigrant is a foreign national seeking to temporarily enter the United States for a specific purpose. A K-1 Visa holder can not obtain an extension of the 90-day time limit.
If the K-1 Visa holder intends to live and work permanently in the United States they should apply to become a permanent resident after the marriage. Please note, K-1 Visa holder will receive a "green card" and conditional permanent residence status for two years. Conditional permanent residency is granted when the marriage is less than two years old at the time the Adjustment of Status application is processed.
Note: A K-1 Visa holder can enter the United States only one time with this visa. Upon entry, the K-1 visa is cancelled, and an Electronic I-94 is issued upon entry and becomes the controlling document. If the K-1 entrant leaves the U.S. before marriage to the original petitioner, re-entry into the U.S. might not be allowed without a new visa. Also, if the K-1 entrant has applied for and is waiting on approval of an Adjustment of Status petition, the K-1 entrant should not leave the U.S. without also having applied for and received approved Advance Parole -- doing so could result in the inability to re-enter the U.S., and it indicates abandonment of the petition for Adjustment of Status. (Note that even approved Advance Parole does not guarantee re-entry into the U.S.)
These are the basic steps required by the US Citizen. These steps should be followed as a guideline and not as specific requirements for any given case. Every case is unique and this does not address that uniqueness.