November 8th, 2011 by Eleanor Gaskin
K-1 visa (fiancé visa) is issued to foreign nationals who are outside the US and who want to enter the US for the purpose of getting married to a US Citizen. The US citizen starts the process by filing Form I-129 F, Petition for Alien fiancée with the USCIS.
A fiancé(e) is one who is engaged or contracted to get married. Per immigration laws, the marriage should be legally possible according to laws of the state in the US where the marriage is to take place. Such persons who are planning to get married should have met in person within the past 2 years from the date of filing the petition. It may be contrary in some traditions for a man and woman to meet before marriage. In such instances, some exceptions may apply to this requirement of meeting in person during the last two years.
Petition Form I-129 F
Firstly, the US citizen is required to file Form I-129 F, Petition for Alien Fiancée along with the necessary supporting documents at the nearest USCIS Office having authority in the area of residence of the American citizen.
After the I-129 petition is approved, the USCIS will send it to the National Visa Center for further processing. It will then be forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate in the country where the fiancé(e) resides. The fiancé(e) is then required to apply for a K-1 visa at this consulate. Normally, the validity period of this approved petition is four months and it can be further extended by the Consular Officers if the processing of the US fiancé visa application is not complete.
After initial processing and verifying the submitted documents, the officer at the Consulate will inform the foreigner fiancé about the scheduled interview. Once successfully through with the interview, the fiancé will be issued a single entry US fiancé visa that will be valid for 3 months, within which the petitioner (the US citizen ) and the alien fiancé have to get married. After getting married, the foreign spouse has to file Form I-485 to adjust status to conditional permanent resident. After completing two years of marriage, the US citizen and his/her spouse should jointly file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on the residence. Once Form I-751 is approved, they will get a permanent resident card that is valid for the next ten years.
The US fiancé visa process is quite a lengthier one and the time limit cannot be stated exactly, as the processing time differs from one immigration office to the other. It depends on the number of applications received.
Overview of the US Fiancé Visa Process
US citizen files Form I-129, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with the USCIS office that serves the area where he/she lives.
Once the USCIS approves the petition, USCIS will notify the US embassy or consulate in the fiancé(e)’s country.
The fiancé(e) will then apply for a K-1 visa at the US embassy or consulate in the country where he/she resides.
The fiancé(e) will then enter the US with K-1 visa status and has to marry the US citizen within 90 days.
After marriage, the K-1 visa holder changes status by applying for a green card.