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"K-1" Visa
Nonimmigrant Visa for a Fiance(e) (K-1)

What Is a “Fiancé(e)”?

A fiancé(e) is a person who is engaged or contracted to be married. The marriage must be legally possible according to laws of the state in the United States where the marriage will take place.

In general, the two people must have met in person within the past two years. The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants some exceptions to this requirement. For example, it may be contrary in some traditions for a man and woman to meet before marriage.

Sometimes the USCIS considers a person a "fiancé(e)" even though a marriage contract has been concluded. In such cases, the American citizen petitioner and his/her spouse have not met, and they have not consummated the marriage.

How Does a Fiancé(e) Visa Work?

If you are an American citizen and you want your foreign fiancé(e) to travel to the United States to marry you and live in the U.S., you must file Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) in the United States.

Petition: Filing and Next Steps at NVC and the US Embassy

You must file the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F , with the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that serves the area where you live. See the Department of Homeland Security's USCIS Field Offices for information on where you can file the petition. Note: You cannot file this petition at an embassy, consulate or U.S. immigration office abroad.

After the USCIS approves the petition, it sends the petition to National Visa Center for processing, prior to sending it to the embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa for a fiancé(e).

What Should I Know about International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)?
  • Compliance with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA):
    If you met your fiancé(e) or spouse through the services of an international marriage broker, you must notify USCIS of that fact by answering Question 19 on this form. The term “international marriage broker” means a corporation, partnership, business, individual, or other legal entity, whether or not organized under any law of the United States, that charges fees for providing dating, matrimonial, matchmaking services, or social referrals between United States citizens or nationals or aliens lawfully admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents and foreign national clients by providing personal contact information or otherwise facilitating communication between individuals. The term "international marriage broker" does not include:
    • Traditional matchmaking organizations of a cultural or religious nature that operate on a non-profit basis and in compliance with the laws of the countries in which it operates, including the laws of the United States; or
    • Entities that provide dating services if their principal business is not to provide international dating services between United States citizens or United States residents and foreign nationals and charge comparable rates and offers comparable services to all individuals it serves regardless of the individual's gender or country of citizenship.
  • Documents needed to comply with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act?
    • If you have ever been convicted of any of the following crimes, submit certified copies of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions for every such conviction. This is required even if your records were sealed or otherwise cleared or if anyone, including a judge, law enforcement officer, or attorney, told you that you no longer have a record.
      • Domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, dating violence, elder abuse, and stalking.
        The term "domestic violence" includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.
      • Homicide, murder, manslaughter, rape, abusive sexual contact, sexual exploitation, incest, torture, trafficking, peonage, holding hostage, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment, or an attempt to commit any of these crimes.
      • Crimes relating to a controlled substance or alcohol on three or more occasions, and such crimes did not arise from a single act.
    • If you are seeking a waiver of the filing limitations imposed by IMBRA, you must attach a signed and dated request for the waiver, explaining why a waiver would be appropriate in your case, together with any evidence in support of your request. Examples of such evidence include, but are not limited to: a death certificate, police reports, news articles, or medical reports from a licensed medical professional, regarding the death of an alien approved for a prior K visa.
      If you have committed a violent offense and seek a waiver, you must attach a signed and dated request for the waiver, together with evidence that extraordinary circumstances exist in your case, i.e., that you were being battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your spouse, parent, or adult child at the time you committed your violent offense(s), you were not the primary perpetrator of violence in the relationship, and:
      • You were acting in self-defense;
      • You violated a protection order intended for your protection; or
      • You committed, were arrested for, were convicted of, or plead guilty to committing a crime that did not result in serious bodily injury and where there was a connection between the crime committed and your having been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty.
      Examples of such evidence include, but are not limited to:
      • Police reports;
      • Court records;
      • News articles;
      • Trial transcripts.
  • Mandatory Tracking of Multiple Petitions and Dissemination of Information Pamphlet.
    The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act requires USCIS to maintain a database to track repeated petitions for K visas. Upon approval of a second petition for a K-1 or K-3 visa filed by the same U.S. citizen petitioner, USCIS will notify the petitioner that information concerning the petitioner has been entered into a multiple visa petition tracking database. USCIS will enter all subsequent K-1 or K-3 petitions filed by that petitioner into the database. When a subsequent petition for a K-1 or K-3 visa petition has been filed less than ten years after the date the first petition was filed, USCIS will notify both the petitioner and the beneficiary of the number of previously approved petitions listed in the database. USCIS will also send the beneficiary a pamphlet containing information on legal rights and resources for immigrant victims of domestic violence.
What Documents Do You Need to Prove That You Can Legally Marry?
  • Provide copies of evidence that you and your fiancé(e) have personally met within the last two years; or if you have never met within the last two years, provide a detailed explanation and evidence of the extreme hardship or customary, cultural or social practices that have prohibited your meeting; and
  • Provide original statements from you and your fiancé(e) whom you plan to marry within 90 days of his or her admission, and copies of any evidence you wish to submit to establish your mutual intent; and
  • If either of you is of an age that requires special consent or permission for you to marry in the jurisdiction where your marriage will occur, give proof of that consent or permission; and
  • If either you or your fiancé(e) were married before, give copies of documents showing that each prior marriage was legally terminated.
What Other Documents Do You Need for the I-129F petition?
  • Submit a completed and signed Form G-325A (Biographic Information) for you and a completed and signed Form G-325A for your fiancé(e). Except for name and signature, you do not have to repeat on the Biographic Information form the information given on your Form I-129F.
  • Give USCIS a passport-style color photograph of yourself and a passport-style color photograph of your fiancé(e), with both photos taken within 30 days of the date of filing this petition. The photos must have a white background, be glossy, un-retouched and not mounted. The dimension of the full frontal facial image of you and your fiancé(e) in separate photos should be about one inch from your chin to the top of your hair. Using a pencil or felt pen, lightly print the name (and Alien Registration Number, if known) on the back of each photograph.
  • If either you or the person you are filing for 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.
Extending the Petition

The I-129F petition is valid for four months from the date of approval from USCIS. Consular officers can extend the validity of the petition (revalidate the petition) if it expires.

A Fiancé(e) Is Also an Immigrant

Because a fiancé(e) visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry an American citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancé(e) must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa.

Applying for a Visa

The consular section at the embassy or consulate where you, the fiancé(e) of an American citizen, will apply for a visa, will tell you about any additional specific requirements that you need to fulfill to complete your visa application, such as where you need to go for the required medical examination. During the interview process, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing , which takes additional time after the visa applicant's interview by a Consular Officer. The following is required:

  • A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
  • Birth certificate
  • Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse for both the applicant and the petitioner
  • Police certificate from all places lived since age 16
  • Medical examination (vaccinations are optional, see below)
  • Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support may be requested.)
  • Two Nonimmigrant Visa Applications, Form DS-156 (A Form DS-156, prepared in duplicate.)
  • One Nonimmigrant Fiancé(e) Visa Application, Form DS-156K
  • Two nonimmigrant visa photos (each two inches 50 X 50 mm square, showing full face, against a light background)
  • Evidence of a fiancé relationship
  • Payment of fees, as explained below.
Should K-1 fiancé(e) visa applicants use the I-864 or the I-134?

Since fiancé(e)s are nonimmigrant visa applicants, they should use the I-134. They will need to submit an I-864 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when they adjust status to conditional immigrant in the United States after they are married.

Do the same income requirements apply to all immigrant visa applicants even if they use the I-134?

No. The 125 percent minimum income requirement, the most recent year's tax return and other requirements only apply when an I-864 is needed. Applicants using the I-134 will need to show that their sponsor's income is 100 percent of federal poverty guidelines as required under Section 212(a)(4) of the INA.

Fees - How Much Does It Cost?

Fees are charged for the following services:

  • Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
  • Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee
  • Medical examination (costs vary from post to post)
  • Fingerprinting fees, if required
  • 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 expenses for travel to the 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, government services select Fees .

Vaccination Requirements

United States immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa. Panel physicians who conduct medical examinations of immigrant visa applicants are required to verify that immigrant visa applicants have met the vaccination requirements. See IV Vaccination Requirements for the list of required vaccinations and additional information.

As a fiancé(e), you are not required to fulfill this requirement at the time of your medical examination for a fiancé(e) visa. However, you may want to do so. These vaccinations are required when you adjust status following your marriage.

What Must Happen After Getting the Fiancé(e) Visa?

After getting the fiancé(e) visa, your fiancé(e) enters the U.S. through a U.S immigration port-of-entry. The U.S. immigration official gives your fiancé(e) instructions on what to do when he/she enters the United States. You must get married within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s entry into the United States.

After marriage, your spouse must file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live in the United States. You must fill out the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864 , with the USCIS for your spouse's application to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Can a K-1 Visa Holder Leave the United States?

The K-1 visa allows a fiancé(e) to enter the United States one time only. If you leave the United States after entering on a K-1 visa, you may not re-enter on the same visa. If you want to leave and re-enter the United States, you should apply with Form I-131 Application for Travel Document to the USCIS office that serves the area where you live for advance parole to return to the United States.

Can a K-1 Visa Holder Work in the United States?

As a K-1 visa holder you may file Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization with the USCIS office that serves the area where you live for a work permit (employment authorization document). For more information see How Do I Get a Work Permit (Employment Authorization Document)?

Children Have Derivative Status

The child of a fiancé(e) may receive a derivative K-2 visa from his/her parent’s fiancé(e) petition. You, the American citizen petitioner, must make sure that you name the child in the I-129F petition. After the marriage of the child’s parent and the American citizen, the child will need a separate form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status. The child may travel with (accompany) the K-1 parent/fiancé(e) or travel later (follow-to-join) within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1 visa to his/her parent. A separate petition is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien fiancé(e) within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1 visa. If it is longer than one year from the date of visa issuance, a separate immigrant visa petition is required. Remember that in immigration law a child must be unmarried. The stepparent/stepchild relationship must be created before the child reaches the age of 18.

How Long Does It Take?

The length of time varies from case to case according to its circumstances. The time it takes each USCIS office and each consular office to process the case varies. Some cases are delayed because the applicant does not follow instructions carefully or supplies incomplete information. (It is important to give correct 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.

What If the Applicant Is Ineligible for a Visa?

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities are:

  • Trafficking in Drugs
  • Having HIV/AIDS
  • Overstaying a previous visa
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Advocating the overthrow of the government
  • Submitting fraudulent documents

The consular officer will tell you, the applicant, if you are ineligible for a visa, whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver procedure is. For a complete list of ineligibilities see Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas .

How do I Apply for a K1 Visa?

To apply for K-1 or K-2 visa click here >