While a lot of immigration attention recently has focused on migrants and workers with specialty occupations, the number of K-1 visa for fiancés to U.S. citizens has been rising dramatically.
The number of fiancé visas has tripled from the late 1990s, from more than 12,000 per year to more than 38,000 in 2016.
Nearly half of the visas went to people from the Philippines. The top countries for the remainder were from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Vietnam, Haiti, Colombia, China, Great Britain, Nigeria and Canada.
Requirements for a U.S. citizen
There are several requirements you must meet to bring a fiancé to the country on a K-1 visa:
- You must be a U.S. citizen
- You must plan to marry your fiancé within 90 days of your fiancé’s admission to the U.S.
- You must be legally free to marry
- You and your fiancé must have met in person within a two-year period before filing your petition. Exceptions to this rule can be made if meeting your fiancé would violate long-established cultural or social practices, or result in hardship for you.
The process of applying for a K-1 visa involved the Citizenship and Immigration Service, the Department of State and Customs and Border Protection. Background and security checks will be conducted on both you and your fiancé.
The first step
The first step is to file form I-129F along with a $535 fee. You will need to provide these documents:
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization or citizenship certificate
- Evidence you and your fiancé legally terminated any previous marriages (if applicable)
- A passport-style photo of yourself
- Evidence you two plan to marry within 90 days of admission to the U.S.
- Evidence you met your fiancé in person within two years of filing form I-129F
If approved, the form is forwarded to the Department of State where your fiancé will apply for a K-1 visa at the U.S. consulate or embassy. The embassy schedules an appointment to meet with your fiancé, where they bring appropriate documents and the embassy official approves or denies the visa.
With the K-1 visa, your fiancé travels to a U.S. port of entry where a Customs and Border Protection officer will make the final decision if your fiancé is allowed into the country.
Then you have 90 days to get married after which your new spouse can apply for a green card using form I-485.