What is a K-1 Visa? What you need to know about the Fiancee Visa

So, you have fallen in love, and want to move to the US with a green card through marriage, but you aren’t yet married. The K-1 Visa might be the resolution for you.

What is a K-1 visa?

K-1 Visas are for the fiancees of citizens of the U.S. The K-1 Visa allows the recipient to enter the U.S. for the purpose of getting married within 90 days. Once married, the immigrant may then file for a green card through adjustment of status. Because a fiancee visa permits the holder to immigrate to the U.S. and marry a U.S. citizen shortly after arrival in the United States, the fiancee must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. Eligible children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas.

What is a fiancee?

A fiancee under the immigration law is someone who been granted the Petition for Alien Fiancee. Generally speaking, to receive this visa the couple in question needs to be legally able to marry (so unmarried to another spouse, for instance), and should have evidence of time spent together. Immigration will eventually be asking you for proof of your relationship legitimacy when you want to get a marriage-based green card, and thus it’s a good time to set the groundwork for that eventuality.

What is required for a Fiancee or K-1 Visa

In order to qualify both you and your fiancee must be legally able to get married in the US. If either you or your fiancee have been previously married, you will need the divorce documentation or a certificate of death in the case of widow(er)s. The sponsoring partner must be a legal US citizen, and the immigrant must be able to qualify for the marriage-based green card requirements that we have outlined here.

Can my fiancee travel to the US for a visit while waiting for the K-1 Visa?

Yes, but there could be some difficulties. The main concern for the US is that you aren’t planning on staying in the US permanently while you wait for your K-1 Visa ( which can take some time to receive, and is not guaranteed).

You would have to apply for a tourist visa, and even then you will have to prove to CBP that:

  1. You plan to return to your home country after visiting the United States.
  2. Your visit will be temporary and short.
  3. You will be able to support yourself financially during your v
  4. This is true even for countries that qualify for visits of up to 90 days without a visa (like Canada).

Like any marriage-based visa it is unadvisable to fake a relationship for the purposes of getting into the United States. Immigration officers are on the lookout for such scams and will expect proof of your valid relationship.

NOTE: During Covid, this category – like so many – is the subject of litigation to move the process back to normalcy.

As always, if you have questions or concerns, it is recommended to speak to a lawyer that specializes in immigration.

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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