What Is A K-1 Visa?
The K-1 Visa allows the visa holder to enter the United States for up to 90 days to get married and file for Adjustment of Status (to become a Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S.).
After filing for Adjustment of Status they may reside in the US beyond the 90 day K-1 Visa validity while their Adjustment of Status application is processed.
fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 non-immigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of the children on the I-129F petition.
Who Is Eligible For A K-1 Visa?
U.S. citizens who will be getting married to a foreign national in the United States can petition for a K-1 fiancé(e) visa for their fiancé(e).
- You and your fiancé(e) must be free to marry. This means that both of you are unmarried, or that any previous marriages have ended through divorce, annulment or death.
- You must also have met with your fiancé(e) in person within the last two years prior beginning the K-1 Visa petition process (filing the I-129F).
This requirement can be waived if meeting the non US Citizen’s fiancé(e) in person would:
- violate long-established customs
- create extreme hardship on the US Citizen
K1 Visa Process Timeline
- Step 1: Fill out I-129F petition and send to USCIS lockbox (time varies)
- Step 2: Receive Notice of Action 1 (1 week)
- Step 3: I-129F petition is approved (3-4 months)
- Step 4: Case is sent to National Visa Center (1-2 weeks)
- Step 5: NVC issues case number and sends letter to beneficiary (1-2 weeks)
- Step 6: Beneficiary/Petitioner pays IV fee (time varies)
- Step 7: Beneficiary completes online form DS-160 (time varies)
- Step 8: NVC forwards case to US consulate (1-2 weeks)
- Step 9: US consulate schedules interview (2-3 weeks)
- Step 10: Beneficiary schedules & attends medical examination (time varies)
- Step 11: Beneficiary attends visa interview (time varies)
- Step 12: If K1 visa approved, beneficiary enters the US at port of entry (time varies)
Total Time For K1 Visa Completion: 7-11 Months.
- If you receive an RFE this will delay your case by up to 60 days.
- If you have a criminal conviction that makes you inadmissible, this requires that you submit a waiver form I-601 (this can delay your case by a few months)
Forms To File I-129F Petition (Step 1)
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiance(e) [download]
This form is used to petition your fiance(e) and that their children to the United States so you can get married.
I-134 Affidavit of Support [download]
This form is legally binding with the US government to support your fiance financially after entering the United States and ensure they will not become a public charge. A separate affidavit must be filed by the sponsor for each person/child.
G-325A Biographic Information [download]
This form provides biographic information on the beneficiary.
G-1145 (optional) E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance [download]
This form is used if you wish to receive electronic notification (e-Notification) that your application has been accepted.
How To Assemble The I-129F Packet
Payment: Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Make check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Fee $535.00)
Cover Letter: Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-129F), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet. Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet. (I-129F Cover Letter Example)
Form I-129F: Petition for Alien Fiance(e) (Form I-129F)
Declaration of how you met in person in the last two years. This should be a single typed page attachment regarding question ’34.a’ of the I-129F. Make sure to sign and date it.
Original statements (from both the US Citizen and foreign fiance) certifying an intent to marry within 90 days of entering the US on a valid K-1. (Fiance Letter of Intent)
Proof of having met in past two years. (click here for examples)
G-325A filled out by the US Citizen with their information, signed and dated (Form G-325A).
One passport-type photo of the US Citizen. Write the full name of the US citizen on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag “Photo of “. Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
G-325A filled out by the foreign fiance(e) with their information, signed and dated (Form G-325A).
One passport-type photo of the foreign fiance(e). Write the full name of the foreign fiance(e) on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag “Photo of (insert foreign fiance(e) name) “. Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
Copy of the Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen’s passport issued with a validity of at least 5 years or a copy of the US Citizen’s naturalization certificate (front and back). This is used to prove citizenship.
Copy of final Divorce Decree(s) or Certificate(s) for the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) if either has been previously married. If the previous marriage of the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) ended due to the death of their spouse then include a Copy of Death Certificate(s) documenting that fact.
Proof of Legal Name Change if either the US Citizen and/or foreign fiance(e) is using a name other than that shown on the relevant documents. You must give USCIS copies of the legal documents that made the change, such as a marriage certificate, adoption decree or court order.
In regards to Section C Question 2, if applicable provide certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions for any specified conviction(s) (in accordance with the IMBRA). See section 9 of the I-129f instructions for more information.
2017 Income Requirement
|Household Size||100% Poverty Guideline|
Active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
|125% Poverty Guideline |
For all other sponsors
Using a Joint Sponsor on Form I-134
Although Form I-134 isn’t legally binding in court, it is still reviewed carefully by USCIS. Many applicants are glad that it’s not legally binding because it means that USCIS can’t take you to court if your fiance decides to leave you and apply for food stamps. I’m sure it’s because the K1 visa is considered a nonimmigrant visa until you adjust your status after marriage.
Who can be a joint sponsor for the K1 affidavit of support I-134?
- Must be US citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Must be 18 years old
- Must live in the US
Petitioner Income Requirement:
As the petitioner you will still need to fill out form I-134 even if you are unemployed and make no income at all. So, if you have no children or dependents living with you, your household size will be 2 which includes your fiance. In this case, the income requirement will be $20,025 for 2017.
You must include 3 years tax returns with the form. If you weren’t required to file a tax return you should submit a letter stating this.
If you currently make zero dollars, you can fill out form I-134 and state that your income is zero. You can also include any assets you have that can be used instead of income. Some petitioners choose to include bank statements, investment states and rental property in lieu of income to avoid using a joint sponsor.
Joint Sponsor Income Requirement:
As the joint sponsor you will need to fill out form I-134 and include the intending immigrant in your household size. If you meet the income requirement alone, provide pay stubs, employment verification letter and 3 years tax returns as supporting documents.
If the joint sponsor doesn’t make enough to meet the income requirement for their household size, they can also use assets to “top up” the shortage. You’ll need to include evidence of your assets and they must be liquid (easily convertible to cash).
Where to Send The I-129F Petition
You are required to mail applications to a national mailbox (Chicago).
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266
For USPS Express Mail and courier deliveries:
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Be sure to mail the package with return receipt requested/delivery confirmation.
All Forms that you submit must be originals with original signatures. You cannot use photocopies of the forms. Supporting evidence that you submit may be photocopies.
Retain ALL original supporting evidence because the USCIS has the right to check them by issuing an RFE (Request for Evidence).
If you receive an RFE, follow the directions on the letter exactly, and make two copies of the evidence you send back to them.
You should also bring the original supporting evidence with you to any interview that is scheduled by USCIS.
Forms Needed To File For The K-1 Visa (Step 2)
DS-160 Online Non-immigrant Visa Application
This is an online form which the embassy requires before your interview is scheduled to receive your visa.
DS-156K Non-Immigrant Fiance(e) Visa Application
This form is only needed (and will be provided) by the US Embassy issuing the Visa.
DS-156 Non-Immigrant Visa Application
This form is provided by the US Embassy handling the visa.
DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
This form is provided by the US Embassy handling the visa.
The above documents will be provided by the embassy or consulate. Many of the forms will be filled out online after your I-129F has been approved and before the K-1 visa interview.
Proof Of Meeting In The Last 2 Years
Copies of the following can be used a proof:
- airline boarding passes
- train passes
- hotel receipts,
- passport stamps (make sure you can read the dates on the stamps),
You may want to highlight or place post-it notes indicating the dates and locations on the copies (to make the adjudication easier) for the person reviewing your file.
Color Photo’s of you and your fiance(e) together.
Make sure you write your names, date, and location on the back of every photo. Provide two to five photo’s.
If you only have a single copy of the photo, then make a color copy and send that.
If it is a digital photo, have it printed at a local photo store such as Walgreens (if at all possible) or if not on a high quality printer.
Place photo’s in a plastic bag or photo sheet and label the sheet. Note that you may not receive originals of photo’s back.
Things That Cannot Be Used As Proof Of Having Met
The following items will not typically show proof of having met in the last two years however will show proof of an ongoing relationship:
- land line and cell phone bills
- appropriate letters and emails
- stamps on the letters (to document the date they were sent)
Provide a reasonable amount; two to four of each type
Pick a range of dates up to and including the present. You can also include a copy of engagement ring receipt (this is something that is a big optional – do not worry if you do not have a ring yet!)
What To Send Your Foreign Fiance(e)
1. A copy of the entire I-129f package (that you made when you sent the petition in) and a copy of information that you sent back due to an RFE (if you received one). Your fiance(e) should review this information in advance of the interview (the embassy will have copies of this as well).
2. Send copies of the documentary proof that you submitted with the I-129F for your fiance(e) to have on hand for their interview at the embassy. Your fiance(e) should review this information in advance of the interview (the embassy will have copies of this as well).
3. Send an original letter affirming your desire to marry your fiance(e) and your continued support of the K-1 Visa. Sign and date the form. This will be similar to the letter you provided with the I-129F, but dated much closer to the interview (it will have most likely been several months since you submitted your I-129F).
4. I-134 Affidavit of Support form. Ensure it is signed, with all required supporting evidence. Begin collecting the required information ahead of time, as it can often take several weeks to collect it all.
5. You will need several items (for the above form). Gather duplicate evidence of income and resources as appropriate:
(A) Statement from an officer of the bank/financial institution with your deposits, identifying the following: 1. date account opened; 2. total amount deposited for the past year; 3. present balance
(B) Statement(s) from your employer on business stationary showing: 1. Date and nature of employment; 2. salary paid; 3. whether position is temporary or permanent (also include copies of your last two pay stubs and your previous W-2 for the associated employer if available)
(C) If Self Employed: 1. Copy of last income tax return filed (or IRS transcripts); or 2. report of commercial rating concern
(D) List containing serial numbers and denominations of bonds and name of record owner(s).
Begin collecting these ASAP after your NOA2 arrives. See this FAQ for more tips and useful information on the Affidavit of Support Form.
6. A copy of the NOA2 that you received in the mail. (backup information; the embassy will have copies of this as well)
7. Proof of your ongoing relationship. This needs to be taken to the interview! Include photos, travel documents, emails, online chat logs (pick several over the prior few months), etc.. from between the time you filed and present (NOA1 until date-now).
K1 Port of Entry Process
- When your flight lands, must get in the line for visitors (even if your U.S. citizen fiance is traveling with you).
- You are still considered a nonimmigrant until you adjust status with form I-485.
- Bring your entire I-129F petition and K1 visa application with you.
- CBP officer will take your fingerprints and ask you to provide the sealed medical envelope from the civil surgeon.
- After the CBP officer reviews your passport and documents, they’ll stamp the visa with an I-94 that is good for 90 days.
- You must then get married before the I-94 stamp expires (90 days from entry)