The K-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa specifically for foreign nationals to enter the United States for the sole and specific purpose of marrying their American citizen Fiance. The K-1 visa beneficiary must marry the U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry.
Congress created the K visa category to speed entry of foreign fiances into the United States. The K visa is actually a non-immigrant visa that can be issued much faster than an immigrant visa. The foreign fiancé applies for permanent immigrant status after marrying the American petitioner in the U.S.
The K-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that the derivative of the K-1 visa. The K-2 visa is specifically available for the minor children (under 21) of K-1 visa applicants. The K-2 visa is also only valid for 90 days and terminates if the K-1 visa holder does not marry the American petitioner.
After USCIS Approval of the I-129F Petition
The Second Step – NVC Processing
Once the USCIS adjudicates and approves the I-129F petition, the USCIS will forward the file to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will process the case further and direct it to the appropriate American consulate abroad.
The Third Step – Consular Processing Abroad:
Once the appropriate consulate (in the fiancee’s country of residence or citizenship) receives the approved petition from the National Visa Center, the consulate will contact the foreign fiancee. The consulate will provide the foreign fiancee with the necessary forms and instructions to actually apply for the Fiance visa entry visa.
In addition to the required visa application forms, the consulate will require the following original documents from the foreign fiancee. Foreign language documents need to be translated and certified into English:
1. Passport for K-1 and all K-2 visa applicants.
Expert Tip: K-2 visa applicants should be listed on the I-129F. The K-2 visa applicant does not file specific paperwork with the USCIS but rather with the relevant consulate.
2. Birth certificates for K-1 and all K-2 applicants;
3. Proof of termination of all previous marriages (divorce decree, annulment decree or death certificate) for American petitioner and foreign beneficiary;
4. Police certificates for K-1 and all K-2 applicants over the age of 16. Foreign beneficiaries need police certificates from police authorities in all countries they have resided in for 6 months or more since their 16th birthday;
5. Affidavit of Support and supporting documentation from the American petitioner. The foreign beneficiary must bring an original signed and dated I-134 to her consular interview.
Expert Tip: I have seen consular officers accept scanned I-134s but they usually require an original signature from the American petitioner. The American petitioner must also provide the foreign beneficiary with the following supporting financial documentation which she will bring to her interview:
A. Three years of federal tax returns and W-2s and 1099s;
B. An employer letter indicating employment and income;
C. 3 – 6 months of pay stubs.
Expert Tip: Deficiencies with the affidavit of support or the supporting documentation are one of the top reasons for visa denial or a consular request for evidence. It is vitally important that the petitioner document his income. Please see my article about the I-134 Affidavit of Support.
6. Passport-size photos for K-1 and all K-2 applicants;
7. Medical Examination for K-1 and all K-2 applicants. Expert Tip: Do not get any vaccinations in anticipation of the medical exam. The medical exam doctor will determine which vaccines if any are required.
8. Evidence of the bona fides of the relationship and evidence of meeting.
More Consular Processing Expert Tips:
1. The approved Fiance visa petition is nominally valid only for 4 months from the date of approval however the consulate will routinely revalidate the petition approval if the case is not completed within 4 months. The American petitioner should send the foreign beneficiary a fresh Statement of Eligibility and Intent to Marry if consular re-validation is necessary.
2. It is generally helpful for the American petitioner to be with the foreign beneficiary during the interview process. Although the American petitioner is rarely allowed in the interview his presence is helpful at the very least to show the ongoing romantic relationship. In all cases multiple visits from the American petitioner are extremely helpful to the case.
3. If the beneficiary does not speak English it is helpful for the beneficiary to be able to explain how she and the petitioner communicate. For example they may have a different language in common.
4. K-1 visas are issued 7 – 10 days after the interview. The consulate will keep the foreign beneficiary’s passport and insert the visa before returning the passport.. In addition, the consulate will give the K-1 beneficiary a sealed packet which the beneficiary will need to give to the immigration officer at the U.S. port of entry. It is very important that the beneficiary not open the packet. They need to bring it in their carry-on luggage.
5. Tip for Filipino Fiances:
The Philippine government requires all fiancee visa beneficiaries to attend a Commission on Filipinos Overseas seminar before flying to the United States. This is called the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar and is offered in Manila and Cebu City. This takes only half a day and discusses cultural differences between the United States and The Philippines, finding employment and healthcare in the United States and other relevant topics. The goal of this compulsory seminar is to make the Filipino immigrant’s transition to life in the United States smoother.
After Visa Issuance:
The K-1 visa is valid for 180 days. The foreign beneficiary must enter the United States within 180 days of visa issuance. Once they enter the United States they must marry the American petitioner within 90 days of entrance. At that point they will become eligible to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residency, employment authorization and advance parole (travel permission).
Items to Bring to the United States:
All K-1 and K-2 beneficiaries need to bring the following documents with them:
2. Sealed Package;
3. Original birth certificates with translation and certification;
4. All original divorce decrees with translation and certification;
5. Vaccination records.