K-1 Fiancé Visa
Overview of Fiancé Visa
A fiancé visa will get you into the United States to get married. Whether you decide to stay in the United States and apply for a green card is up to you.
In order to be eligible for a fiancé visa, the law requires that you:
- Intend to marry a U.S. citizen,
- Have met your intended spouse in person within the last two years
- Are legally able to marry.
You Must Intend to Marry
The requirement that you intend to marry might seem obvious, but the U.S. government wants more than your assurance that a marriage is somewhere in your future. It will want proof that you’ve made actual plans, such as a place, a type of ceremony or proceedings, and more.
Your Intended Spouse Must Be a U.S. Citizen
In order for you to be eligible for a fiancé visa, the person that you plan to marry must be a U.S. citizen, not a permanent resident.
A U.S. citizen is someone who either was:
- Born in the United States or its territories
- Became a citizen through application and testing
- Acquired or derived citizenship through a family member
You Must Be Legally Able to Marry
Last but not least, to be eligible for a fiancé visa there must not be any legal barrier to your getting married:
- One person is under the age of consent
- One person has been previously married and needs to prove that marriage was legally ended
- The two members of the couple are related by blood
- The two members of the couple are of the same sex and intend to get married in one of the states (or District of Columbia) that recognize same-sex marriage
If possible, make your wedding plans flexible. You can’t know exactly how long it will take to get the fiancé visa, but you’ll have to hold your wedding within 90 days of entering the United States. Before you sign any contracts, discuss the situation with the service providers and build some flexibility into your contracts or agreements in case the date needs to change.
How the Immigrant’s Mode of Entry Affects Eligibility to Adjust Status
If the immigrant entered the U.S. with permission, such as with a visa he or she entered the country legally. That’s true even if the person stayed beyond the visa expiration date.
The road to a green card should be reasonably smooth; the immigrant should be able to stay in the U.S. for your entire application process, which will likely take about a year.
The usual ways people enter legally are:
- With a visa (a tourist, student, or temporary worker visa, for example)
- With a border crossing card (a special pass allowing regular entries)
- Under the Visa Waiver Program (where citizens of certain countries are allowed to enter the U.S. as tourists by showing their passport, without first obtaining an entry visa).
Immigrants Who Entered the U.S. Legally With a Visa or Border Crossing Card
If the immigrant entered the U.S. legally and his or her spouse is a U.S. citizen, it’s a powerful combination: The immigration should be able to apply for a green card using the procedure called adjustment of status, and not have to leave the U.S. during any part of the application processing.
An immigrant who entered legally is not required to choose the adjustment of status procedure. However, the immigrant should NOT choose consular processing if, since the time that his or her permitted stay ran out, he or she has been living in the U.S. unlawfully. That could lead to a lengthy bar on reentry.
Immigrants Who Entered the U.S. Illegally (Without Inspection
Now, what if the immigrant entered without having been inspected by an officer of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for example by crossing the border in secret? In that case, he or she loses certain important procedural rights, namely to adjust status (apply for a green card without leaving the United States).
The immigrant will likely have no choice but to leave the United States and apply for an immigrant visa and green card at a U.S. consulate abroad. The consulate could refuse the visa because the immigrant is inadmissible, depending on how long the immigrant lived in the United States after the illegal entry. A waiver is available to applicants who can prove that denial of the immigrant visa would cause extreme hardship to a qualifying U.S. relative. Fortunately, as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you can be proactive and apply for this waiver on a provisional basis, using
If you are applying for a Fiancé visa, here is an overview of the visa application process. Get ready for a large amount of paperwork and numerous forms.
Obtaining a K-1 fiancé visa involves three major steps
Step 1: Your U.S. citizen fiancé submits a fiancé visa petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done on Form I-129. In addition to filling out the form, the petitioner must prepare various documents, for example proving his or her U.S. citizenship status and the fact that you two have met in person within the last two years.
Step 2: After USCIS approves your visa petition approval, it notifies not only the U.S. citizen petitioner, but also the National Visa Center (NVC) in Virginia. The NVC will advises you which consulate it is forwarding your case to.
Step 3: You fill out forms, see a doctor (one approved by the U.S. consulate) to get a medical exam report, and present everything to a U.S. consulate in your home country. There, you attend an interview and hopefully receive your K-1 fiancé visa. Your U.S. citizen petitioner does not typically attend this interview. Once you enter the U.S., you will have 90 days in which to get married and either leave the country of apply for a green card (adjustment of status). This process involves even more paperwork than the fiancé visa did!