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Fiancé(e) Visas

Is the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Right for You?

Many times, a couple is not ready to or cannot get married for various reasons:
– the relationship is new;
– they may want to spend some time living together;
– they may want their marriage to be in the U.S.;
– the foreign country where the foreign national lives does not recognize this type of marriage (this might be true for same-sex couples);
– they may have received bad immigration law information and heard that the fiancé(e) visa is the only or proper route;
– and more.

So, they turn to the K-1 fiancé(e) visa (Form I-129F) option. A fiancé(e) visa, officially known as a K-1 visa, is a nonimmigrant visa that allows a foreign national engaged to a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married. This visa is specifically designed for couples who plan to marry within 90 days of the foreign national’s arrival in the U.S. Once the marriage takes place, the foreign national can apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card.

Unfortunately, this option may not be the best route for most couples:

(1) It requires more legal steps, interactions with the government, and filing fees.

(2) Moreover, once the foreign national arrives in the U.S., they have to get married quickly within 90 days. It is possible to get married after 90 days, but then it becomes a regular I-130 marriage green card process.

(3) Finally, a K-1 beneficiary will need to apply for a work permit after arriving in the U.S. or apply for it together with the green card application after marriage. The work permit can take many months to be approved, leaving the foreign national without work authorization for an extended period of time. In the alternative, if they had married and entered with an immigrant visa, they would have had automatic employment authorization upon entry into the U.S. by virtue of their endorsed immigrant visa stamp.

The K-1 fiancé(e) visa option typically gets the foreign national into the U.S. a few months faster than if applying for a marriage-based immigrant visa. That is why some couples prefer this option.

K-1 Visa Process

The process of obtaining a fiancé(e) visa involves several steps, which our dedicated immigration attorneys can guide you through:

  1. Petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The U.S. citizen sponsor must file a petition (Form I-129F) with USCIS on behalf of their foreign fiancé(e). This petition establishes the intent to marry within 90 days and initiates the visa application process.

After submitting the petition, USCIS may sometimes ask for additional evidence or information through a Request for Evidence (RFE) which must be responded to within a fixed period of time. If a proper and timely response is not given, the petition can be denied. Most cases involving RFEs require an in-person interview at the local USCIS Field Office.

  1. Approval. After USCIS reviews the petition, if it is approved, it will be forwarded to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign fiancé(e)’s home country or the country of their current lawful residence for further processing.
  2. Visa Application. The foreign fiancé(e) will then need to complete the visa application (DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application), including providing supporting documents such as a valid passport, medical examination results, and evidence of a genuine relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner.
  3. Interview. The foreign fiancé(e) will attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. The purpose of the interview is to determine the authenticity of the relationship and the eligibility for the fiancé(e) visa.
  4. Security Checks and Background Investigation. The U.S. government will conduct security checks and a background investigation on the foreign fiancé(e) to ensure there are no criminal or security concerns.
  5. Visa Issuance. If the visa application is approved, the foreign fiancé(e) will receive the fiancé(e) visa stamp in their passport, allowing them to travel to the United States.
  6. Entry and Marriage. Once the foreign fiancé(e) enters the United States on the K-1 visa, the couple must get married within 90 days. After the marriage takes place, the foreign spouse can apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card.


It is important to note that the foreign fiancé(e) can only adjust status and obtain the green card based on their marriage to the initial K-1 petitioner (and their valid Form I-864, Affidavit of Support). The foreign national cannot obtain a green card based on marriage to another person after K-1 visa entry made pursuant to the approved I-129F petition filed by the initial K-1 sponsor.

A few more important K-1-specific issues:
– the couple must be able to document that they have met each other physically within 2 years of filing the fiancé(e) petition with rare exceptions for extreme cases that would prevent the meeting;
– the K-1 process requires the disclosure of the U.S. petitioner’s criminal history which can create problems depending on the type, severity of the charges and the total number of charges;
– both parties must include a statement of their lawful ability and intent to marry within 90 days of arrival in the U.S. This is a simple letter but, in many cases where people do not use an attorney, the petition is denied for failure to include these simple letters.

Navigating the fiancé(e) visa process can be complex and overwhelming, but our experienced immigration attorneys are here to provide you with expert guidance and support at every stage. We understand the significance of bringing your loved one to the United States, and we will work diligently to develop a customized strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular case. Contact us today to get started and get the help you need.

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