The K-1 visa is for the unmarried, foreign national fiancé of a U.S. citizen living abroad. This visa allows the foreign national fiancé to enter the United States in order to marry the U.S. citizen sponsor within ninety (90) days of arrival. The foreign national may also bring his/her children under K-2 visas.
To qualify for the K visa, both the U.S. citizen and the foreign national must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed and must have remained so thereafter. In other words, both parties must have been of legal and were not otherwise married to other spouses. In addition, the marriage must be legal pursuant to the laws of the U.S. state in which the marriage will take place. Additionally, both parties must have met in person within the past two years. For example, if a U.S. citizen met a foreign national through an online dating site, and have been communicating via email without ever having met in person, they would not qualify for a K visa. An exception to this requirement may be made based on extreme hardship for the U.S. citizen sponsor to personally meet the foreign-citizen fiancé or if it is contrary in the U.S. citizen sponsor’s or foreign-citizen fiancé’s culture for a man and woman to meet before marriage. However, it is very unlikely that this type of exception will be made by the USCIS in instances involving most foreign national fiancés.
The first step requires the U.S. citizen to file a petition with the USCIS. Once approved, the petition will be sent to the consulate in the foreign national’s home country where he/she will apply for the K visa. This process will usually require an interview, fingerprinting, providing certain documents, including results of a medical examination, proof of vaccinations and proof of financial support. Upon approval, the foreign national fiancé may enter the United States, at which time he/she will have to marry the U.S. citizen within ninety days.