The K1 visa involves petitioning for your fiancé/fiancée to come to the United States so you can marry and they can live with you — and it can be one of the hardest visas to attain.
Because the visa applicant isn’t required to marry, have a job offer, or offer any solid commitment besides swearing their intention to get married, consular officers scrutinize applicants hard.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the visa isn’t worth applying for, or is impossible to get. It just means you need to be prepared, have all of the necessary paperwork, and be ready for any question that may be put to you or your loved one.
It’s time to research the most important things to know and have prepared as you get this process underway.
1. You Must Intend to Marry Within Ninety Days of Your Loved One’s Arrival
It’s one of the main K1 visa requirements. Marrying within ninety days of your loved one’s arrival in the United States is not a suggestion.
Failing to do this can mean that when they then apply to adjust their status, the application can be denied which means they’ll have to leave the country. Not only that, from when the ninety days have passed and your partner is unmarried, they will be violating immigration law.
Even if they aren’t deported, this will cause complications.
Speaking of immigration law, you can always seek the services of an immigration lawyer to guide you if you’re dealing with a difficult or confusing case. The last thing you want is the extra headache of the immigration bureaucracy stalling or delaying the process of your loved one acquiring citizenship. Your immigration lawyer will also help ensure that you do not violate the immigration law in any way during this process.
2. You Must Have Met Once in the Last Two Years
When it comes to the K1 visa application, one of the demands is that the two of you have spent some time in person during the last two years.
This is often difficult for those who live thousands of miles apart, or perhaps those who met online and want to complete the application without a physical meeting first. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to do.
There are some exceptions, such as proving extreme hardship on the US citizen or a lack of ability to visit your significant other due to the conditions of their country, but only a small minority of people have their K1 visa approved without a recent meeting.
3. You Should Have Plenty of Evidence
With the initial petition (form I-129F), you’re asked to submit proof of relationship. The instructions are vague, and it’s better to be overprepared than under.
Some examples of what you could put in the package include:
- Pictures of you two together
- Plane tickets and passport stamps from trips and visits together
- Significant text message conversations
- Screenshots of social media posts tagging each other over the time you’ve been together
You can also include letters from family and friends vouching for you, known as affidavits, but they’re considered weak evidence and should only be used if you have no alternative.
4. You Need to Make Enough Money to Support Your Loved One
You must fill out a form known as the Affidavit of Support (form 1-134) after you get married, proving you make enough money to support your loved one. This means being over the federal poverty line.
If you can’t do this, your application will be denied and your now-spouse will have to leave the USA.
Fortunately, there is a solution if you don’t make enough money. You can add another sponsor to your application, which should be someone you trust that’s willing to sign off on supporting your significant other.
You, and any other sponsor, will have to submit tax transcripts to prove your income. It’s important to ensure you stay up to date with the IRS in the time leading up to this so that you’re good to go when it comes to proving your finances.
5. Make Sure You Know Each Other Well
Part of the K1 visa process is ensuring your partner knows you extremely well because at their interview, they’ll be asked questions about you.
Some possible questions include:
- What does your partner do for a living?
- What are their parents’ names?
- When is their birthday?
- What do you love about them?
There are hundreds of different questions that may be asked since it’s at the consular officer’s discretion.
6. Every Embassy is Different
The K1 visa application always involves this interview, but when doing research about it, it’s important to look into the specific country your partner is arriving from.
Some embassies are different than others, as the USA has ideas about what countries are at a higher risk for fraud. These interviews will likely be far more in-depth.
7. The K1 Visa Involves a Medical
For your loved one, during the K1 visa timeline — usually, right before the interview — they will have to complete a medical.
Although there are slight variations from country to country, it usually involves a blood test, chest x-ray, and physical. The doctor is trying to ascertain that they are taking no contagious diseases into the USA, and are not a danger to themselves or anyone else.
For this reason, if they’ve had any contagious diseases in the past or struggled with mental health problems, they should take a letter to the medical from their own doctor. Having some confirmation that their past is no longer an issue will speed the process up.
Most countries also require the applicant to take some form of medical records to their appointment.
8. It May Be Difficult For Them to Visit You During the Process
If you’re one of the fortunate few couples who are used to jetting back and forth to visit each other, your loved one may want to hold off arriving in the States while their application is in process.
Although it’s technically legal, every entry into the United States by someone who isn’t a citizen or permanent resident is at the border officer’s discretion. Therefore, they could decide you and your partner have gotten impatient and your partner is intending to stay illegally.
9. Your Loved One Will Not Be Able to Work or Leave the Country While Adjusting Status
Prepare yourself for the months following the wedding. While your partner is adjusting status, their legal status is in a sort of limbo, which means they won’t be able to work or travel until they get their permits.
You might want to save some money, or at least be prepared for this time, as it might be hard on both of you.
Be Prepared and Do Your Research
The K1 visa can be a tricky road, but that’s why it’s important to do your research and be prepared. As long as you gather the correct paperwork and are ready for anything USCIS or anyone else might throw at you, you’ll have it in the bag.
It’ll all be worth it when your spouse-to-be arrives!
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