The K1 visa is also known as the fiancé visa. This is a special visa for non- Americans engaged to American partners. It allows them to enter the USA and makes them eligible for a Green Card as long as they get married to the sponsoring fiancé within 90 days of entering the country. The visa cannot be converted to any other kind of visa.
Who Needs The K1 Visa?
The K1 visa is a boon for couples who want to be together before the wedding and who want to host their wedding in the USA. It is also beneficial for couples who cannot get married in the fiancé’s home country. For example, same-sex marriages are not recognized in many countries but it is legal in the USA.
K1 Visa Requirements
- The sponsoring partner must be an American citizen. Green card holders are not eligible to sponsor the visas.
- Both partners must be eligible to get married according to US laws. If either partner was married earlier, they must have proof of an annulment, divorce or the death of the partner from that marriage.
- Both partners must be able to prove the legitimacy of their relationships. Proof could include photographs, written testimony from friends and family, hotel reservations and tickets from trips taken together, letters exchanged between them, etc.
- The couple must be able to prove that they have spent time together at least once in the past 2 years. Exceptions may be made in cases wherein in-person meetings would have violated religious, cultural or social norms.
- Both partners must submit a signed declaration of intending to get married within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the USA. Wedding invitations, deposit receipts, etc. may also be submitted as proof.
- The wedding must be held in the USA.
- The sponsoring partner must be able to prove a gross annual income that is equal or higher than 100% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- If the sponsoring partner’s income does not meet federal poverty guidelines, a joint financial sponsor must submit an affidavit of support.
How To Get The K1 Visa
Getting the fiancé visa takes approximately 7 months. The couple then has 90 days to get married. After the wedding, the fiancé may apply for a Green card, and the same is usually issued within 6 months. The steps involved are:
- The sponsoring partner must submit the I-129F petition for a K1 visa to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Once the petition is approved, a case number will be issued and the paperwork will be forwarded to the US consulate or embassy closest to where the fiancé lives.
- The fiancé must submit a DS-160 visa application at the local consulate and submit the following documents:
- 2 passport sized photographs
- Copy of their birth certificate
- Valid passport
- Police clearance from any country they may have resided in for more than 6 months since the age of 16 years
- Sealed medical exam form
- The fiancé will need to attend an in-person interview at the US consulate.
- The visa is issued and stamped on the fiancé’s passport. This visa is valid for 6 months.
Once the fiancé arrives in the USA, the couple must be legally wed within 90 days. The fiancé may then apply for a Green Card by filing an Adjustment of Status application.
K1 Visa And Green Card Fees
At the time of filing the 1-129F petition, the sponsoring partner must pay a filing fee of $535 to the USCIS. Similarly, the fiancé abroad must pay a $265 visa fee.
After arrival in the USA, a $1,140 filing fee and $85 biometric fee is payable when applying for the Green Card.
Thus, the total cost of getting the Green Card amounts to $2,025. This is exclusive of other costs such as travel, required translations, medical tests, etc.
The Fiancé Visa Vs The Marriage-Based Visa
For couples with marriage plans, the choice is typically between the K1 visa and the marriage-based visa. The latter allows the foreigner to enter the USA after the wedding has been solemnized.
This wedding may have been conducted anywhere in the world. The fiancé arrives in the USA as a permanent resident. The two key differences between the two types of visas are:
- A marriage visa may take longer to be approved than the K1 visa
- The K1 visa costs are much higher than the marriage visa costs
Based on your need you can choose a visa and apply for it.
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