Love may sometimes cross international borders and because of this, it can face challenges in
relationships, including dealing with immigration laws. In the United States, the K-1 visa
program is one option for engaged couples where one partner is a U.S. citizen.
What is the K-1 Visa Program?
The K-1visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits foreign nationals who are engaged to a U.S.
citizen to enter the U.S. for marriage purposes. This visa allows non-U.S. citizens to enter the
U.S. to marry within 90 days of entry before applying for permanent residency once they have
been married. Also included in K-1 visa qualifications, are same-sex couples, which qualify for
the visa even if the home country of the foreign partner does not recognize same-sex marriage.
If the fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen has children, they children are able to apply for K-2 visas
if the children are minors.
How Can I Qualify for the K-1 Visa Program?
In order to qualify for a K-1 visa, a foreign citizen must be engaged to a U.S. citizen and must
live outside the U.S at the time of the application. U.S. citizens’ foreign fiancés and fiancées who
are already living legally in the U.S. are not eligible for the K-1 visa. Generally, they will have to
seek a status adjustment, instead. It is also important to note that K-1 visas are also not for
couples who plan on marrying outside the U.S. or who have already married.
The individual who is sponsoring their foreign partner must also meet several K-1 visa requirements. For example, the sponsoring partner must be a U.S. citizen and not a permanent resident and must be legally able to marry. This means that neither partner is currently married to anyone else. Should one partner have been previously married, he or she must provide documentation to show than any previous marriages have been terminated such as, divorce orders, death certificates, and such.
Additionally, a couple must also have met at least once in the two years before they apply for a
K-1 visa. For many couples it is hard to accomplish; hence, a waiver for this requirement is
available. This waiver is generally possible if you can prove that the meeting would be against
your partner’s cultural, social, or religious practices or would make it difficult for the partner that
is a U.S. citizen in the relationship.
Lastly, probably the most important part of K-1 visa requirements is that the forthcoming
marriage and the relationship are real and legitimate. If you marry a U.S. citizen just for the
purpose of seeking immigration status (e.g., obtaining a green card) is considered to be fraud.
Couples applying for the K-1 visa should be ready to provide evidence that their relationship is a qualifying one. Having photographs, individuals who can vouch for your relationship’s legitimacy, evidence of travel to see each other, can help your application
What is the Process Like?
Most of the paperwork will come from the U.S. citizen in the relationship. The following are the
steps required for this process:
It is important to time the marriage carefully since there are only 90 days to get ready and marry. Once the K-1 visa expires, the foreign partner will need to return to his or her home country if the marriage did not happen. During the visa application process, it is not recommended for the foreign partner to travel to the U.S. This leads authorities to think the couple is trying to go around the immigration system. While waiting for the visa, it is recommended to create provisional plans so the wedding can occur within the 90 days of entry into the U.S. A visa revalidation, a K-1 visa extension, is possible if a couple simply runs out of time. Once USCIS approves your I-129F petition, it is valid for fourth months. The validity of the petition can be extended for four months at a time by a consular office to allow more time for visa
What Type of Documentation Do I Need?
When filing for a K-1 visa, you’ll want to have all your paperwork ready to prove your
eligibility, your relationship, and your current single status. The instructions for the I-129F
petition will list what you need, and you may wish to have additional documentation on hand in
case the USCIS requests further information.
▪ Divorce decrees, annulment decrees, death certificates
▪ Evidence of U.S citizenship for the sponsoring partner
▪ One recent and eligible color passport-style photo of each partner
▪ Documentation of any name change
▪ Evidence you intend to marry within 90 days of entry into the United States
▪ Evidence you have met at least once in the past two years or evidence you qualify for a
In some cases, applications will also require an International Marriage Broker Regulation Act
waiver. This waiver may be needed in situations where a U.S. sponsor has sponsored two or more fiancé(e)s in the past or has had an I-129F petition approved within two years. These waivers and the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act are intended to protect foreign born partners from abuse and harm.
How Can Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki Help You?
Planning a new life together with your significant other is stressful enough, but it can be more
complicated when borders and immigration law are involved. Trying to time a K-1 visa
application with all the elements of a wedding and moving in together is difficult and the
possibility of having an application or extension rejected can add to pre-wedding jitters.
able to find documentation to prove the eligibility of a relationship for a K-1 visa.
We can help you determine what your fiancé(e) can do while in the United States on a K-1 visa
and we can keep you compliant with current regulations. Whether you are applying for a K-1
visa for the first time or have already been denied a visa, working with an experienced K-1
immigration attorney can help. Nooney, Roberts, Hewett & Nowicki can help with every aspect
of your K-1 visa journey, from a K-1 extension rejection to helping you appeal a K-1 visa
While you focus on your future with your significant other, let us help you navigate the
immigration process. Call us at (904) 398-1992 for a consultation today.