K1 Visa Process Overview – Requirements, Timeline, Interview
As a U.S. citizen you have the right to bring your foreign fiancee to permanently live in the United States. In order to do so the Petition for Alien Fiance must be filed along with supporting documentation with the USCIS Service Center that has jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner’s residence in the United States. This visa petition filed will serve to classify the alien fiancee, as defined in section 101(a)(15)(K)(i) of the Act, as an approved fiancee. Both fiancees must be eligible to be lawfully married in the petitioner’s state of residence. Furthermore, at the time of the petition they must both be of legal age and not married to each other or anyone else, as well as have serious intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancee’s arrival in the United States. Same sex partners are allowed to apply for a K1 Visa as long as they are planning to marry in one of the states that legally enable same sex marriages.
The petitioner is required to establish to the satisfaction of USCIS that the petitioner and fiancee have met in person within the two year period directly preceding the filing of the petition. An inability to demonstrate that the petitioner and fiancee have met in person may result in denial of the petition; however there will be no prejudice to the filing of a new petition once the petitioner and K1 visa beneficiary have successfully established this fact. This requirement may be waived in some instances if meeting the fiancee in person would violate strong cultural or religious customs, or if meeting the fiance would create extreme hardship for the petitioner. Although it is worth mentioning, cases of such waivers are rare. The petitioner and fiancee must marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancee entering the United States and the petition for the Adjustment of Status must be filed immediately.
In order to meet the fiance visa requirements the petitioner must meet the income eligibility requirements established by the I-134 Affidavit of Support. The petitioner needs to demonstrate that his/her income is above 125% of the poverty line (Note: Active Duty military personnel need only show an income that meets the poverty guideline level). There is no exact formula for qualifying the financial capabilities of a petitioner. Income from current employment and the total adjusted gross income presented on the recent tax return usually carry the most weight. In most cases, a sponsor who is employed and can clearly demonstrate income at or above 125% of the poverty line for the number of persons who will be supported will be found eligible. Apart from proof of sufficient income as listed by the K1 visa requirements, the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may look at other assets in order to determine the whole picture of a petitioner’s sponsorship capability. This includes assets such as stocks, bonds, life insurance, bank account balances, real estate, and any owned businesses.
First key of the K1 Visa Process is filing a petition with the corresponding USCIS Service Center that serves the area where the petitioner lives. It is not possible to file the petition at an Embassy, Consulate or U.S. Immigration office abroad. The K1 Visa requirements must be met prior to the initial filing with the government.
The child of the beneficiary (as defined in section 101(b)(1)(A), (B), (C), (D), or (E) of the Act) may be accorded the same non-immigrant classification as the beneficiary. A separate petition is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien fiance within one year from the date of issuance of the K1 Visa, but the petitioner must ensure that the child is named in the petition. If it is longer than one year from the date of the issuance of the fiance visa for the parent, a separate immigrant visa petition is required.
Technically, besides all mandatory forms and documents there are several major categories that must be established in the initial petition: it is necessary to prove that both parties are free to marry; that they have solid intent to marry; that they have physically met within the last two years and that they have a bona fide relationship. Only experience in the fiance visa field allows to select quality evidence which would allow pass the USCIS smoothly and without Request for Further Evidence (RFE).
An approval of a fiance visa petition by USCIS is valid for a period of four months. An expired petition may be revalidated by a director or a consular officer for a period of four months from the date of revalidation subject to the continued finding that the petitioner and fiance are free to marry and intend to marry each other within 90 days of the fiance’s entry into the United States. The approval of any petition is automatically terminated if the petitioner dies or files a written withdrawal of the petition before the fiancee’s arrival in the United States.
Upon the petition’s approval, the USCIS service center forwards the application to the National Visa Center of the State Department for background clearance, which in turn forwards it to the appropriate U.S. Embassy in a foreign fiance’s country of residence. The U.S. Embassy will contact the foreign fiance directly upon receipt of the case.
At the interview the adjudicator verifies the presence, accuracy and legality of all required documentation. Also, the beneficiary will be asked very specific questions in regard to the relationship with his/her U.S. fiance in order to verify its truthfulness and veracity. Inability to provide all needed documentation and evidence of a genuine relationship may result in the denial of the fiance visa.
K1 Visa is then printed and placed into the fiance’s passport. It resembles a tourist visa, but is annotated with the name of the petitioner. A K1 Visa is valid for a single entry into the United States within six months of the issuance date.
The total time for the K1 Visa process from filing of the initial petition to the actual issuance of a visa can vary depending on the processing speed of USCIS, the time of processing in the NVC, and the processing time of the U.S. Embassy in the fiance’s country of residence. The processing time of the case may be delayed due to the applicant’s failure to provide all necessary documentation in a timely manner or may be denied due to misrepresentation or inability to establish that both parties do have a genuine relationship and solid intent to marry upon fiance’s arrival upon U.S. soil.
K1 Visa Process: After a Visa is issued:
The K1 Visa is valid for a period of six months and allows for one entry to the United States. The k1 visa allows a 90-day time period for the parties to marry. The K1 Visa (and K2 Visa for accompanying minor children) is classified as a “non-immigrant” visa, although all the immigrant visa checks (i.e., FBI check and medical exam) are required. While this visa is issued as a single entry visa, should the fiance return to his/her country within the 90 days and seek to return again to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage, the U.S. Embassy may issue a second visa document.
The fiance visa process is designed for purpose to enter the United States with intention to marry the petitioner within 90 days. Once married, the U.S. citizen can obtain conditional permanent residence status for his/her new spouse by filing an Adjustment of Status Petition with the USCIS. Within 4-5 months of filing the Petition, the couple is called into the local USCIS office for an interview, and if it concludes successfully, a two year conditional permanent residence card is issued to the foreign spouse. The couple may apply to remove the condition and receive a 10 year permanent residence card 3 months preceding the expiration date of the conditional greencard.
www.uscis.gov (United States Citizen and Immigration Services website)
www.travel.state.gov (United States Department of State website)
Written by: Joel Turney