A K-1 visa is a temporary family visa that allows fiancés of U.S. citizens to come to the U.S. to get married. Once the K-1 visa has been issued and the couple has married, the foreign spouse (or K-1 visa holder) is entitled to apply for a Green Card as an Immediate Relative and remain in the U.S. while the application is processed. A K-1 visa is only available to fiancés of U.S. citizens who live outside the U.S. The fiancé visa (K-1) was designed to allow people who’ve become engaged to but haven’t yet married a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. for the wedding. Unfortunately, it isn’t available to the fiancés of U.S. permanent residents (green card holders). Your minor children can go with you to the U.S. If you marry within 90 days, you and your children can apply for a green card. Otherwise, you must leave the U.S. before the date indicated on your passport.
It’s important to realize that a fiancé visa is not a green card. It’s only a temporary, 90-day right to be in the United States. However, it’s included in this book because it’s an important first step towards getting a green card. After the immigrant has arrived in the United States and gotten married, he or she can file for a green card—through a process called “adjustment of status (Or, if the immigrant has no desire for a U.S. green card, he or she can simply return home before the fiancé visa runs out.)
K-1 Visa Entitlements
A K-1 visa entitles the holder to travel to the U.S. to marry their U.S. fiancé. A K-1 visa is only valid for 90 days and extensions cannot be granted. The K-1 visa holder is required to marry their US fiancé within this 90 day period or leave the United States on the expiration of the said visa duration. Once married, the K-1 visa holder is entitled to apply for a Green Card and remain in the U.S. while the application is processed. Foreign fiancés may undertake employment in the U.S. with an approved employment authorization.
Unmarried children under 21 years of age may apply for the applicable derivative visa (K-2 visa) to accompany their parent to the U.S. for the wedding and are entitled to apply for a Green Card to become a permanent resident after the marriage.
K-1 Visa Requirements
To qualify for a K-1 visa, the applicant must be living outside of the U.S. and intend to marry a U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the U.S. The United States citizen and foreign fiancé must be free to marry and have met in person at least once within the previous two years, unless meeting would violate cultural practices or result in significant hardship. K-1 visa applicants may also be required to meet certain health and character requirements.