K-1 visa, which is the US fiancé visa, is issued to those aliens who are outside the US and wish to enter for the purpose of marriage to a US citizen. The US citizen should file Form I-129 F, Petition for Alien Fiancée with the USCIS.
A fiancé(e) is one who is engaged or contracted to be married. The marriage should be legally possible according to laws of the state in the US where the marriage will take place. Applicants are required to have met in person within the past 2 years from the date of filing. Some exceptions may apply to the requirement of having met in person during the preceding two year. For example, it may be contrary in some traditions for a man and woman to meet before marriage.
Form I-129 F, Petition for Fiancé
The first step in getting the US fiancé visa, is filing Form I-129 F, Petition for Alien Fiancée, which the American citizen has to file along with the necessary documents at the nearest USCIS office having authority in the area of residence of the US citizen.
Once the petition is approved, the USCIS will send it to the National Visa Center to begin with the processing, which would be later sent to the Embassy or Consulate in the country where the fiancé(e) lives. The fiancé(e) should then apply for a K-1 visa at this consulate. Generally, the validity period of this approved petition is four months, which can be further extended by the Consular Officers if the processing of the US fiancé visa application is not complete.
After all the submitted documents are verified, the officer at the Consulate will notify the foreign fiancé about the scheduled interview. On clearing the interview, the fiancé will be issued a single entry US fiancé visa valid for 3 months, within which the petitioner (the US citizen ) and the alien fiancé should get married.
After marriage, the foreign spouse has to apply for adjusting status to conditional permanent resident. After completing two years of marriage, the citizen and his/her spouse should file a Form I-751 to remove the conditions on the residence.
The US fiancé visa process is a long one and the time limit cannot be stated exactly, as every immigration office takes different times to process the application. It depends on the number of applications received.
Overview of the US Fiancé Visa Process
- US citizen files a Form I-129, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with the USCIS office that serves the area where he or she lives.
- Once the USCIS approves the petition, USCIS will notify the U.S. embassy or consulate in the fiancé(e)’s country.
- The fiancé(e) will then apply for a K-1 visa that U.S. embassy or consulate
- The fiancé(e) will then enter the US with K-1 visa status and has 90 days to marry the U.S. citizen.
- After marriage, the K-1 visa holder changes status by applying for legal permanent residency (“Green Card“).