What is the K-1 visa process?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2023 | Immigration Law |

Based on information from the Department of Homeland Security, the United States issued more than 30 million nonimmigrant visas in 2022. This was a huge increase over the previous year. For individuals engaged to a foreign national who resides outside the United States, the K-1 visa offers a pathway for their loved one to enter the country and marry. Known as the fiancé(e) visa, the K-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that permits the foreign national fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the United States for the purpose of marriage.

While the promise of starting a new life together in the U.S. is exciting, the K-1 visa process can be complex. Understanding the step-by-step process can help alleviate confusion and stress and ensure that the visa application proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Initiating the K-1 visa process

The U.S. citizen sponsor starts the K-1 visa process by filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The sponsor provides proof of their U.S. citizenship, evidence of the relationship and intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S.

Review by USCIS

After the U.S. citizen sponsor files the petition, USCIS reviews the application. If USCIS approves the petition, it forwards the case to the National Visa Center, which in turn sends it to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the fiancé(e)’s home country.

Interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate

The fiancé(e) will need to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Prior to the interview, they will need to fill out Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, and gather required documents such as a passport, birth certificate and police certificates.

Medical examination and vaccination

The fiancé(e) must also undergo a medical examination by an approved physician and ensure they are up-to-date with all required vaccinations.

Decision on the K-1 visa

Following the interview, the consular officer decides whether to grant the K-1 visa. If granted, the fiancé(e) can travel to the U.S., where the couple must marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival.

Application for adjustment of status

After marriage, the foreign spouse applies for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident. This involves another set of forms and interviews but ultimately leads to the coveted Green Card.

Understanding the K-1 visa process can help couples navigate the path to living together in the United States. By following these steps, they can ensure their application progresses as efficiently as possible, bringing them closer to their dream of a shared life in the U.S.