US K-1 Visa Requirements
Overview: What is a K-1 Visa?
The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United Statesand marry his or her U.S.citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign-citizen will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.
What is a “Fiancé(e)”?
Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen is the recipient of an approved Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, who has been issued a nonimmigrant K-1 visa for travel to the United States in order to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e). Both the U.S. citizen and the K-1 visa applicant must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place.
In general, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) and U.S. citizen sponsor must have met in person within the past two years. USCIS may grant an exception to this requirement, based on extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), or, for example, if it is contrary in the U.S. citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé(e)’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage.
The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA)
Detailed information about IMBRA requirements is contained in the Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), instructions.
The First Step: Filing the Petition
- You, the U.S. citizen sponsor, must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live. See Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) for information on where to file the petition. Further information is available on the USCIS website under Fiancé(e) Visas. Note: Form I-129F cannot be filed at a U.S.Embassy, Consulate, or USCIS office abroad.
- After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing, and NVC will send it to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa.
The Second Step: Applying for a Visa
Once the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), will apply receives the petition from NVC, it will provide you with specific instructions, including where to go for the required medical examination. During your interview, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.
You, the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), (and eligible children applying for K-2 visas) will be required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:
- Two (2) Nonimmigrant Visa Applications, Form DS-156 (prepared in duplicate). NOTE: K-1/K-2 visa applicants should not fill in Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application.
- One (1) Nonimmigrant Fiancé(e) Visa Application, Form DS-156K
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions)
- Birth certificate
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both you and the U.S. citizen sponsor
- Police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for 6 months or more since age 16 (Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older)
- Medical examination (vaccinations are optional, see below)
- Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may be requested)
- Two (2) 2x2 inch photographs. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Visa Photograph Requirements
- Evidence of relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
- Payment of fees, as explained below
Note: The Consular Officer may ask for additional information, such as photographs and other proof that the relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is genuine. Documents in foreign languages, other than the language of the country in which the application takes place, should be translated. Applicants should take to the visa interview clear, legible photocopies of civil documents and translations, such as birth and divorce certificates. Original documents and translations will be returned.
Medical Examination and Vaccination Requirements
In preparing for the interview, applicants will need to schedule and complete a medical examination. Before the issuance of an immigrant or K visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. You will be provided instructions regarding medical examinations from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for your visa, including information on authorized panel physicians. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country, and frequently asked questions.
K visa applicants are encouraged to get the vaccinations required under U.S. immigration law for immigrant visa applicants. Although such vaccinations are not required for K visa issuance, they will be required when adjusting status to that of legal permanent resident following your marriage. Applicants are therefore encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.
Proof of Financial Support and Affidavit of Support forms
During the visa interview, applicants will be required to present evidence to the Consular Officer that they will not become a public charge in the U.S. You may present evidence that you are able to financially support yourself or that your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is able to provide support. The Consular Officer may request that a Form I-134, Affidavit of Support be submitted by the U.S. citizen fiancé(e).
The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) will need to submit Form I-864 to USCIS with the application for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident following the marriage.
Do the same income requirements apply to Form I-134 as apply to Form I-864?
No. The 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline minimum income requirement, the most recent year's tax return, and other requirements only apply when Form I-864 is needed. Applicants presenting Form I-134 will need to show that their U.S. sponsor's income is 100 percent of the federal poverty guideline.
Fees - How much does a K-1 visa cost?
Fees are charged for the following services:
- Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-156
- Medical examination (costs vary from post to post)
- Other costs may include translation and photocopying charges, fees for getting the documents required for the visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.), and travel expenses to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
- Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
For current fees for Department of State, see Fees for Visa Services For current fees for USCIS, see Check Filing Fees on the USCIS website.
My petition expired – Can it be extended?
The I-129F petition is valid for four months from the date of approval by USCIS. A Consular Officer can extend the validity of the petition if it expires before visa processing is completed.
Ineligibilities for Visas - What if I am ineligible for a K visa?
Certain conditions and activities may make you, the applicant, ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents.
If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the Consular Officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver process is. Learn more and see the complete list of ineligibilities
How long will it take to get my K visa?
For Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), you can visit the USCIS website for the status of your petition.
Once your case has been received from NVC by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that will process it, the length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances. Some cases are delayed because applicants do not follow instructions carefully or supply incomplete information. (It is important to give us correct postal addresses and telephone numbers.) Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer.
After You Receive a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
If you are issued a K-1 visa, the Consular Officer will give you your passport containing the K-1 visa and a sealed packet containing the civil documents you provided, plus other documents prepared by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is important that you do not open the sealed packet. Only the DHS immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. As the K-1 visa holder, you must enter the U.S. either before or at the same time as any qualifying children holding K-2 visas.
With your visa, you can apply for a single admission at a U.S. port of entry within the validity of the visa, which will be a maximum of 6 months from the date of issuance. You must marry your U.S.citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of your entry into the United States.
Does my U.S.citizen fiancé(e) need to file separate petitions for my children?
No. Your eligible children may receive K-2 visas based on the approval of Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), that your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) filed on your behalf, but your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must list the children on the petition. After your marriage, your children will need to file separately from you for adjustment of status. They cannot be included on your application for adjustment of status. More information about adjustment of status is available on USCIS’s website under Green Card (Permanent Residence)
Important Notice: Under U.S. immigration law, a child must be unmarried. In order to file for adjustment of status for your child following your marriage to your U.S. citizen spouse, the child’s stepchild relationship with your spouse must be created before the child reaches the age of 18.
Are my children required to travel with me?
Your children may travel with (accompany) you to the United States or travel later (follow-to-join). Like you, your children must travel within the validity of their K-2 visas. Separate petitions are not required if the children accompany or follow to join you within one year from the date of issuance of your K-1 visa. If they want to travel later than one year from the date your K-1 visa was issued, they will not be eligible to receive K-2 visas, and separate immigrant visa petitions will be required. If your child has a valid K-2 visa and you have already adjusted status to that of permanent resident, your child may still travel on the K-2 visa.
Entering the United States- Port of Entry
A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the U.S.port-of-entry and request permission to enter the United States. You should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the U.S. Upon arrival at the port-of-entry, be prepared to present to the CBP officer your passport with visa and your unopened/sealed packet containing your documents. Travelers should review important information about admissions and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel
Adjustment of Status, Working in the United States, and Traveling Outside of the United States
Information for K-1/K-2 visa holders about adjustment of status, permission to work in the United States, and travel outside of the United States is available on the USCIS website under Fiancé(e) Visas
How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card
To learn about applying for a Social Security Number Card, visit the website for the Social Security Administration
- If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate to review their website for contact information.
- For more information on this process please visit http://travel.state.gov