To qualify for a K-1 visa, the applicant must (1) have plans to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entering the U.S. and (2) be legally eligible to marry. The K-1 visa applicant and the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must have met in person during the two years prior to filing the K-1 petition. An applicant may apply for a waiver of the in-person meeting requirement in cases where meeting in person would violate established cultural traditions or would cause extreme hardship for the applicants. Ultimately, the U.S. citizen and the fiancé(e) must prove that they have a bona fide relationship.
The K visa application process begins with the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) filing a Petition for Alien Fiance(e), form I-129F, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will adjudicate and forward the approved K petition filed by the U.S. citizen to the designated consular post where the K applicant lives. The K visa applicant will then attend a scheduled visa interview at the consulate to complete the application process.
Duration of Visa Validity
A K-1 visa is only valid for 120 days and for a single entry into the U.S. The K-1 visa applicant must enter the U.S. during the 120 day visa validity period and must get married to his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entering the U.S. to lawfully remain in the U.S.
Eligibility to Work
K-1 visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization upon arrival in the U.S. based on their K status. They may also separately apply for work authorization and a travel permit when applying for lawful permanent residence.
Accompanying Family Members
The unmarried children, under the age of 21, of a K-1 visa applicant are eligible to apply for K-2 dependent status and enter the U.S. with the K-1 applicant.
Following their entry into the U.S., K-1 visa holders can apply for lawful permanent residence by filing an application with USCIS. However, they cannot apply to change their status from K non-immigrant status to any other non-immigrant status or to extend their K-1 status.
A K-1 visa holder must get married to his or her U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of entry to the U.S. and apply for lawful permanent residence as soon as possible thereafter. If the K-1 visa holder fails to marry within 90 days of entry to the U.S. or marries someone other than the K-1 sponsor, the K-1 visa holder generally cannot continue the permanent residence process.