A K1 visa is a type of U.S. visa that allows you, an American citizen, to take your Thai fiance/fiancée to the United States with the intention to get married in the United States.
This video talks about the difference between a spouse visa and a fiancé visa and their requirements led by Robert Virasin, a licensed U.S. Immigration Attorney, and Pinnyada Tanitnon (Joy), a U.S. visa consultant at Siam Legal International.
The summary of the discussion can be read below.
What is the difference between a spouse visa and a fiancé visa?
A U.S. citizen with a Thai spouse can petition for their spouse to enter the United States with a Non-immigrant Visa (K3) visa. K3 visa holders can enter and exit the United States as many times as they wish as long as their visa remains valid. The K3 visa is valid for 2 years, and can be renewed in two-year increments while your spouse applies for permanent residency. The K3 visa application process may be shorter than the immigrant visa application process.
If the U.S. citizen is not married, he can file a K-1 petition for his fiancé. A K-1 fiancée visa allows a U.S. citizen’s fiancé to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married. The K1 Visa provides for a 90 day period of valid stay in the United States. During that 90 day period, the U.S. Citizen and the K-1 fiancé must get married or the K-1 holder has to leave the United States.
What are the requirements for a fiancé visa?
- The petitioner must be a US Citizen. U.S. Permanent Residents cannot file a visa application for their fiancé visa. A pending naturalization application is not sufficient. The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen at the time of the application.
- The petitioner must have physically met the fiancé within the past two years. There are exceptions for religious or cultural issues that prevent the petitioner from meeting his fiancée. Communication by phone, chat, or video phone is not sufficient.
- The petitioner and the fiancée must be free to marry each other. All previous marriages must be terminated and there should be no legal issues which prevent the marriage. There may be restrictions on certain types of marriage such as an age requirement, degree of family relationship or same sex couples.
- The petitioner must have assets and income to support the fiancée. The fiancée must not become a public charge.
- Past criminal issues of both the petitioner and the fiancé from getting the visa approved. The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) prevents U.S. citizens with specific crimes of violence, slavery, or sexual abuse from petitioning for a K-1 visa.
- Past violations of U.S. immigration laws by the fiancé may prevent the visa from being approved. Certain violations of U.S. immigration laws carry a specific ban on a foreign national from reentry into the United States.
What is the K-1 fiancé Visa process?
The process begins with the U.S. citizen filing an I-129F petition in the United States with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). After about three to five months, the USCIS will review the I-129F package.
If the case has been approved, the application will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for processing. After three to five months, the package is forwarded to the local U.S. consulate that has jurisdiction to your fiancé residence. The U.S. Consulate will send your fiancé a list of required documents which include original birth certificates, police records, and evidence of the freedom to marry.
After the U.S. Consulate has reviewed the package, the consulate will schedule an interview with your fiancé. The fiancé will have to bring a seal envelope containing the medical exam and their passport.
The officer will review the documentation and interview your fiancé to ensure that the relationship is not fraudulent and to look for possible reasons why your fiancé would be inadmissible. If the fiancé has a child, and the fiancé wants to bring their child to the United States also, your fiancé should submit the required documents for their child also.
The consular officer will inform your fiancé if the visa is approved after the interview. If the K-1 visa is approved, the officer will take your fiancé’s passport to imprint the new visa. Your fiancé can pick up their passport within 5 business days. The fiancé’s child will receive a K-2 visa that will allow them to enter the United States.
Your fiancé will receive a six month visa or a visa to the date your fiancé’s passport expires. After your fiancé enters the United States, the both of you will have 90 days to get married. Your fiancé will have to file for adjustment of status to obtain U.S. permanent resident status.
Do you have any advice for our viewers if they plan on applying for a K-1 fiancé visa?
- Document your relationship. Take photos. Keep letters, plane tickets, and receipts.
- Be open with your relationship. Make sure that your friends and family know about your relationship. They may be requested to write personal statements.
- Keep working. There are financial requirements that the U.S. citizen must reach to petition for their fiancé.
- This will probably the only time that you file for a K-1 visa, if you are unsure about the process, see professional assistance.