Fiance Visa

Quota: Unlimited.

Length of petition for visa: Four months, within which time the foreign spouse must apply for K-1 status.

Length of visa: Six months, but the marriage must take place within 90 days.

Visa extensions: Not available.

Length of application process: Varies according to the foreign spouse’s home country.

It is very difficult for a K-1 visa holder to stay in the United States if they do not marry the person who petitioned for the K-1 visa. The marriage must be to that original petitioner and not to another United States citizen. If that marriage does not take place, the K-1 visa holder should leave the United States and apply for a new visa if they seek to return.

Visas for people intending to marry U.S. Citizens

A United States citizen may bring his or her foreign fiancé into the country in order to marry and apply for permanent residency status.

The United States citizen must begin the process by filing a petition for fiancé visa with the USCIS. This form must be approved before the foreign fiancé may apply for his or her K-1 visa. After the petition is approved, the foreign fiancé has four months to obtain the K-1 visa from the United States consulate in his or her home country.

In order to qualify for a K-1 fiancé visa the United States citizen and his or her foreign spouse must have met in person within the past two years there must be a good-faith intention to marry both people must be legally able and willing to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé’s arrival in the United States.

What about children?

Children are given what is known as “derivative status” when their parent is granted a K-1 visa. This means that the parent’s visa status is given also to his or her children, provided the children are unmarried and under 21 years of age. Separate forms should be filed for each child along with the application for the K-1 visa.

If the United States citizen and his or her foreign spouse did not meet in the past two years, the United States citizen may apply for a waiver of that requirement. The application must show that complying with the requirement would result in extreme hardship, or that it would violate traditional customs in the foreign fiancé’s home country. These applications are very strictly scrutinized.

If the application is denied based on nonfulfillment of the two-year requirement, the parties may meet and re-file their petition. The denial of the first application will not affect the new application.

In order to document proof of your relationship, you may provide as many as possible of the following:

  • Copies of airline boarding passes, train tickets, itineraries, hotel receipts and passport stamps.
  • Photographs of the United States citizen and his or her foreign fiancé with names, dates and locations written on the back.
  • Copies of telephone bills, emails and letters including postage stamps to document the dates they were sent. Personal information in the emails and letters may be blacked out.
  • Any evidence of marriage plans that can be documented, such as agreements with clergy and any business agreements pertaining to the wedding (reservations, receipts, etc.).

What happens if the marriage does not occur?

The K-1 visa holder must leave the United States within the 90-day limit or be subject to deportation.

After the marriage occurs, K-1 visa holders must apply for an adjustment of status (Form I-485), to become a permanent resident, and an employment authorization document (EAD). Application must also be made in case the foreign spouse wishes to travel outside the United States and re-enter before receiving a green card.

What is the process for citizenship? How long does it take?

After about one year, the foreign spouse may be interviewed for green card status, which confers conditional permanent residence. Two years after having been issued a green card, the foreign spouse may apply to have the ‘conditional’ status removed. After that, the foreign spouse may apply for naturalization as a United States citizen.