K-1 Visa Attorneys Explain K-1 Eligibility and Processing Times
Congratulations on your engagement! If you’re visiting this page, it probably means that either you or your partner are not a U.S. citizen, but you are planning on building your life as a married couple in the United States. Our immigration attorneys can help you explore the best path for you and your fiancé(e).
What Is a Fiancé Visa?
A fiancé visa, also called a K-1 visa, is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Before filing for a fiancé visa, usually a couple must have seen each other in person within the previous two years and the applicant must marry their U.S. citizen partner within 90 days of entry or depart the United States.
If you are already married or if your future spouse already lives in the United States, contact our immigration attorneys for other options, as the fiancé visa is not available.
How is a fiancé visa different from a marriage green card?
Fiancés of U.S. citizens have two main options for immigrating to the United States:
- A fiancé may be able to come to the U.S. on a fiancé visa (the K-1 visa), with a marriage in the United States to occur within 90 days of entry to the United States; or
- First get married outside of the United State and the U.S. citizen spouse may be able to sponsor the foreign spouse for a green card (the I-130 petition).
For engaged couples, there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these two options.
The right choice for your budding family will depend on factors such as where you want to hold your wedding, how quickly the foreign fiancé wants to come to the United States, and costs.
Our immigration attorneys can help you put together all required forms and documents and help you submit them to the government. Start your application today!
TLF immigration attorneys can help you choose the right visa for you!
Eligibility for a K-1 Fiancé Visa
The K-1 fiancé visa is available to fiancés of U.S. citizens who are living outside of the United States and intend to get married within 90 days of arriving in the United States.
The K-1 fiancé visa requirements include:
- Both you and your fiancé must be single and eligible to be married under U.S. law. (Note: same-sex couples are eligible for the K-1 fiancé visa, whether or not the foreign spouse’s home country recognizes same-sex marriages.)
- If you or your fiancé have been married previously, you will need to provide divorce or death certificates for any previous spouse.
- The sponsoring partner must be a U.S. citizen. U.S. green card holders are not eligible to apply for fiancé visas.
- You and your fiancé must prove that your relationship is authentic—through photos, correspondence, and written statements from people who know you as a couple.
- It’s generally best to have concrete wedding plans in the United States. You can show this through invitations, venue reservations, or other proof that the wedding is not a vague dream but a specific, planned event. Alternatively, you can provide a simple signed statement of your intent to marry within 90 days of arrival.
- You must have met in person at least once in the past two years. This requirement can be waived for religious practices or in cases of extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen partner.
- The U.S. citizen partner must meet certain income requirements, earning at least 100% of the federal poverty guidelines when applying for the fiancé visa, and earning 125% of these guidelines when the foreign partner applies for his or her green card.
Marriage-Based Green Card
The marriage green card process (initiated with an I-130 petition) is open to spouses of U.S. citizens and U.S. green card holders (permanent residents). Requirements include:
- You and your spouse must have a legally valid marriage, typically proven with a marriage certificate, the place of marriage, and the date of marriage. The marriages of same-sex couples and heterosexual couples are equally valid under U.S. law.
- You must prove that any previous marriages for both spouses have been terminated, typically with a divorce or death certificate.
- You and your spouse must prove that your marriage is not fraudulent, using evidence like a joint lease, joint bank account statements, and pictures together.
- The U.S. citizen spouse must earn at least 125% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Not sure if you qualify for a marriage-based green card? You can check your eligibility with our immigration attorneys at Tien Law Firm.
Processing Time for a K-1 Fiancé Visa
Approximately 4-8 months from USCIS filing to consulate interview.