Are you eligible for the K-1 Fiancé Visa?
One would think that being engaged to be married to a U.S. citizen automatically makes them eligible for the K-1 Fiancé Visa.
However, there are several conditions to be met before you can apply for a K-1 visa. These conditions are different for the fiancé(e) holding U.S. citizenship and for the other fiancé(e) holding foreign citizenship.
The U.S. fiancé(e) has to meet the following basic conditions:
- Holds U.S. citizenship
Only people who are U.S. citizens may bring their foreign fiancé(e) to the U.S., in order to get married. U.S. legal permanent residents (or Green Card holders) may not support their foreign fiancé(e) in the quest for a K-1 visa.
Not sure if you hold U.S. citizenship? There are four possible ways to become a U.S. citizen: through Birth (for children born on U.S. territory); through Acquisition (for children born outside the United States with at least one parent being a U.S. citizen); through Naturalization (for most immigrants) and through Derivation (for foreign-born children under 18 whose parents became U.S. citizens through naturalization).
- Is legally able and free to marry
Just as for any other marriage to take place, the fiancé(e) who is a U.S. citizen must have the minimum legal age required in the state where the marriage will take place. They cannot be legally married to someone else – so they should be either single, divorced, widowed or have had their previous marriage annulled.
- Has physically met their foreign fiancé(e) within the past 2 years
The two fiancés must have met in person at least once in the 2 years prior to applying for a K-1 visa. Meetings online (via Zoom, chat or other apps) are not considered face-to-face.
It makes no difference how many times they met in these 2 years.
Any meetings outside of the two-year period do not count. If the couple met in person one time 3 years prior to applying for a K-1 visa, they are not eligible to apply and the application will be denied. Even if the couple meets physically after filing the Petition for Alien Fiancé, the application will still be denied.
However we have helped many fiancés who were not able to meet in person because of the international situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
- Has a clean criminal record (for specific crimes)
This condition protects the immigrant applicant. The U.S. authorities want to make sure that the foreign person will not be abused by their U.S. fiancé(e). Certain crimes are of interest: violent crimes, assaults, domestic violence, sexual abuse, or repeated substance abuse. Even if the crimes were expunged, they must still be disclosed in the Petition for Alien Fiancé.
- Meets the income requirement
The U.S. fiancé(e) must convince the U.S. authorities that their foreign soon-to-be spouse will have enough financial backup to live in the U.S. without needing help from the U.S. government. The U.S. citizen’s income or assets must reach at least 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines levels for a family of the appropriate size. This includes everyone already living in their U.S. household plus their future spouse (and plus the future spouse’s children if they are immigrating at the same time).
The foreign national fiancé(e) has to meet the following basic conditions:
- Resides outside of the U.S. and holds foreign citizenship
The foreign fiancé(e) must be a national of any country other than the U.S. and they must reside outside the U.S.
- Is legally able and free to marry
The same rule applies to both fiancés. The foreign fiancé(e) must have the minimum legal age required in the state where the marriage will take place. They cannot be legally married to someone else – so they should be either single, divorced, widowed or have had their previous marriage annulled.
- Has physically met their fiancé(e) within the past 2 years
Again, the same rule applies to both fiancés. We will further discuss this top condition in the paragraphs below.
- Intends to marry their fiancé(e) within 90 days after entering the United States
Both fiancés are required to sign a Letter of Intent, proving that they intend to marry each other within 90 days of the foreign fiancé(e) entering the U.S. as a K-1 nonimmigrant.
This concludes the list of basic requirements for the two fiancés. However the USCIS staff (who revise the Petition for an Alien Fiancé) and the Consular officer (who conducts the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to the foreign fiancé’s home) may have additional requirements based on the personal details of the K-1 visa applicants.
The single most important condition taken into account when applying for the Fiancé(e) Visa is the one about the two fiancés having physically met each other.
If you haven’t met your intended spouse in person within the last two years, this could theoretically be waived based on cultural customs of the couple or based on extreme hardship encountered by the fiancé(e) who is a U.S. citizen. However these exceptions are granted very scarcely by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
As for the unprecedented restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, which have prevented many couples from meeting in person during these two years, there may be grounds for exceptions under certain conditions. We have already helped many fiancés in this position.
Still not sure if you qualify? Use our K-1 Visa free eligibility checker to see if you are eligible for this type of visa.
Or better yet, get your information from a professional who specializes in U.S. Immigration Law. Click here to schedule a call and one of our U.S. immigration experts will map out the process based on your particular case – with no further purchase obligation. However the initial $ 49 consultation fee will be deducted from our final service fee if you accept our offer and continue to employ our help.
We are eager to learn more about your story!