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Fiance Visa - Understanding the K1 Fiance Visa Process

Immigrating to the U.S. as a Fiance

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Bride sitting on groom's lap
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A K1 fiance visa is a nonimmigrant visa, which allows a foreign fiancé or fiancée (to simplify things, we'll use "fiance" in the rest of this article) entry into the U.S. to marry a U.S. citizen. After marriage, an application is made for an adjustment of status for permanent residence.

Obtaining the K1 visa is a multi-step process. First, the U.S. citizen files a petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once that is approved, the foreign fiance will be allowed to complete the process to obtain a K1 visa. The foreign fiance will provide additional documentation to the local U.S. embassy, attend a medical exam and visa interview.

Filing the Fiance Visa Petition

  • The U.S. citizen (also knows as the "petitioner") submits a petition for his or her foreign fiance (also known as the "beneficiary") to the USCIS.

  • The petitioner submits Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance, along with Form G-325A Biographic Information, current fees and any required documentation to the appropriate USCIS Service Center.

  • After a few weeks, the U.S. petitioner receives Form I-797, the first Notice of Action (NOA), from the USCIS acknowledging that the petition has been received.

  • Depending on processing times, the petitioner then receives the second NOA from the USCIS acknowledging that the petition has been approved.

  • The USCIS Service Center forwards the petition to the National Visa Center.

  • The National Visa Center will process the file and run preliminary background checks on the beneficiary, then forward the approved petition to the beneficiary's embassy, as listed in the I-129F.

Acquiring the Fiance Visa

  • The embassy receives the file and processes it locally.

  • The embassy sends a package to the beneficiary that includes a checklist of documents that must be collected. The beneficiary will be instructed to send certain items back to the embassy immediately, while other items will be brought to the interview.

  • The beneficiary will complete the checklist and any forms, include any documents required immediately and send the package back to the embassy.

  • Once received, the consulate will send a letter to the beneficiary confirming the date and time of the visa interview.

  • The beneficiary attends a medical interview.

  • The beneficiary attends the visa interview. The interviewing officer will review all documents, ask questions, and make a decision on the case.

  • If approved, the K1 fiance visa will be issued that day or within the week, depending on the embassy.

Activating the Fiance Visa - Entering the U.S.

  • The beneficiary will travel to the U.S. within 6 months of the K1 fiance visa being issued.

  • At the port of entry, an immigration officer will review the paperwork and finalize the visa, allowing the beneficiary to officially enter the U.S.

First Steps - In the U.S.

  • The K1 fiance visa holder should apply for a Social Security number shortly after entering the U.S.

  • The couple may now apply for a marriage license. Watch your timing! Most states apply a short waiting period between applying for the license and the marriage ceremony.

Marriage

  • The happy couple can now tie the knot! The marriage must take place within 90 days of activating the K1 visa.

After Marriage

  • If the foreign spouse is making a name change after marriage, take the new Social Security card and marriage certificate back to the Social Security Administration office to make a name change on the card.

Adjustment of Status

  • Now it's time to apply for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) to become a permanent resident. It is important to file for the AOS before the K1 expiry date, otherwise you will be out-of-status. If the foreign spouse wants to work in the U.S. or travel outside the U.S. before permanent resident status is granted, an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and/or Advance Parole (AP) must be filed along with the AOS.

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