You met a very special person in another country and now you want to marry them in the United States. So what do you do now and what is the next step? Well, you need to meet certain K1 visa requirements if you want to apply for a marriage visa like the K1.
This is where the K1 visa can be beneficial to you and your significant other. The K1 visa is also known as the K-1 nonimmigrant visa for your fiancé(e). This visa allows any U.S citizen to bring their foreign fiancé to the United States. However, there are some strict guidelines you need to consider before you begin the application process. This article will help you understand the requirements for obtaining a K1 visa.
The K1 visa requirements are that the U.S. citizen petitioner must have met their foreign fiancé(e) in person within the past two years, and prove that they have the intention to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e)’s arrival in the United States. If you were unable to meet in person, USCIS may grant you an exception if it’s based on extreme hardship or you were unable to meet due to religious or cultural practices before marriage.
Other K1 visa requirements include that the petitioner prove they are able to financially support their fiancé(e) during their stay, and also prove to have no criminal background.
K1 Visa Requirements
To be eligible to apply for a K1 visa, an applicant must meet the following requirements:
1. Be a U.S Citizen
As the petitioner, you must provide evidence that you are a U.S citizen. You will need to show proof by providing any of the following documents:
- A current and valid U.S. passport
- A copy of your birth certificate issued by civil authority showing you were born in the United States.
- A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS or immigration or naturalization services
- U.S Department of State issued passport card
- A copy of Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) issued by the U.S. Embassy of the U.S consulate
- A copy of an original statement from a U.S consular stating you are a U.S citizen with a valid passport
Unfortunately, if you are a lawful permanent resident (a green card holder) you cannot apply for a K1 visa, but you may qualify for a marriage-based green card which is a different and longer process that can take around two years. To learn more read K-1 Visa Vs. Marriage-Based Green Card.
2. K1 visa requirements : Be Legally Free to Marry
You and your fiancé are required to show proof that you are both legally free and able to marry. If you or your fiancé were ever married in the past, you will need to provide evidence that any marriage was terminated through divorce, annulment, or death. You can show proof by submitting any of the following listed below:
- An original copy of a Divorce decree;
- An original copy of an Annulment order; or
- An original copy of a Death certificate of your former spouse.
3. Intend to Marry Within 90 Days
The citizen sponsor and the fiancé(e) must plan to marry each other within 90 days of the fiancé(e)'s arrival in the United States. In your visa interview, you will need to provide evidence and convince a USCIS agent or consular officer that you plan to marry each other in a bona fide (done in good faith) marriage in the allotted time. The agent or officer will interview both applicants and ask you questions about your relationship. This ensures that the intent is there and the marriage is not being done for fraudulent or immigration purposes. You may need to show proof of pictures, letters, or any other documents proving your relationship is valid.
4. Have Physically Met their Fiancé Within 2 Years
Another requirement is that you and your fiancé(e) must have met in person at least once within a 2-year period before you filed a K1 visa application. In some circumstances, couples were not able to meet because it may have violated strict- in-person meeting; for example, in religious, cultural and social practices. Or you may have had an extreme hardship and were unable to travel to see your significant other.
If this was or is your case, you can still qualify as long as you file a waiver and note why you were unable to meet your fiancé(e). You will need to provide documentation or a detailed explanation of your circumstances. The more you can include the better it will persuade you. Unfortunately, virtual meetings like zoom, FaceTime, or Skype do not count as meetings.
5. Meet The K1 Visa Income Requirement
You will also need to provide evidence that you meet the adjusted gross income of at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. This gives a guide to how you will provide for your future spouse or family once he/she arrives in the United States.
If your income does not meet the minimum requirement and falls under the amount, you can file an Affidavit of Support Form I-134 with your application.
If you have read the requirements and qualify, you can begin the application process, however, it's best to contact an immigration attorney to help you file your application and prepare the documents.
Check out this post If you are wondering what to do with your K1 visa after marriage.