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?
Suppose 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 Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) in the United States.
Filing the Petition
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 being sent the embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa for a fiancé(e).
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 before the processing of the visa application is completed.
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
K visa applicant (and eligible children applying for K-2 visa) will be required to bring the following forms and documents to the visa interview:
- Completed Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application. Principal applicant (and any eligible children applying for K-4 visas) must: (1) complete Form DS-160 and (2) print the DS-160 confirmation page to bring to your interview.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the U.S.
- Birth Certificate
- Divorce or death certificate(s) of any previous spouse(s) for both applicant and the U.S. citizen sponsor
- Police certificates from your present country of residence and all countries where you have lived for six months or more since age 16 (Police certificates are also required for accompanying children age 16 or older)
- Medical examination (vaccinations are optional, see below)
- Evidence of financial support (Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, may be requested)
- Two (2) 2x2 photographs. See the required photo format explained in Photograph Requirements
- Evidence of relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
- Payment of fees, as explained below
- Register your address at the following website for delivery of your visa and print out your receipt and confirmation page: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/th
The consular officer may ask for additional information, such as photographs and other proof that the relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) is genuine. Documents in foreign languages, other than Thai language, should be translated. Applicants should take to the visa interview clear, legible photocopies of civil documents and translations, such as birth and divorce certificates. Original documents and translations will be returned.
Fees are charged for the following services:
- Filing an Alien Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F
- Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, Form DS-160 (required for each K visa applicant)
- Medical examination (required for each K visa applicant)
- 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 travel expenses to the U.S. Embassy for an interview. Costs vary from case to case.
- Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status
United States immigration law requires immigrant visa applicants to obtain certain vaccinations (listed below) 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, or that it is medically inappropriate for the visa applicant to receive one or more of the listed vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza type b (Hib)
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
In order to assist the panel physician, and to avoid delays in the processing of an immigrant visa, all immigrant visa applicants should have their vaccination records available for the panel physician's review at the time of the immigrant medical examination. Visa applicants should consult with their regular health care provider to obtain a copy of their immunization record, if one is available. If you do not have a vaccination record, the panel physician will work with you to determine which vaccinations you may need to meet the requirement. Certain waivers of the vaccination requirement are available upon the recommendation of the panel physician. Only a physician can determine which of the listed vaccinations are medically appropriate for you, given your age, medical history and current medical condition.
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). See Homeland Security's USCIS internet site.
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. See Emergency Travel for information on how to get a travel document that allows you 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 long 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.) In addition the embassy or consulate may need to get security clearances for the applicant. Security clearances take time.
Ineligibilities for Visas
Certain conditions and activities may make the applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents.
If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the Consular Officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility and what the waiver process is. Learn more and see the complete list of ineligibilities.
How Do I Find the Regulations on the K-1 Visa?
To read relevant information regarding Department of State regulations on the K-1 fiancé(e) visas select Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM).
How to Apply for a Social Security Number Card
Before your fiancé arrives in the United States, you can help her or him apply for a social security number card. To learn more about this process, visit the website for the Social Security Administration.