Like a lot of legal processes, immigration applications can be complicated and stressful. The K-1 visa process, in particular, involves a great deal of back-and-forth with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). There are important and sometimes tricky requirements for the K-1 visa, which this blog will detail. Be sure to contact a New York City fiancé(e) K-1 visa attorney for any questions you may have, especially if you expect to start the K-1 visa application process soon.

What Is a K-1 Visa?

he K-1 visa is also known as the fiancé(e) visa. It is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign citizens who are engaged to United States citizens to enter the country and marry. After the subsequent marriage green card process, the now-spouse may become a legal permanent resident. USCIS publishes data for application processing time every three months. USCIS estimates that the K-1 visa wait time is about 13 months.

What is the K-1 Application Process Like?

The K-1 visa application process starts with the citizen fiancé(e) filing Form I-129F: Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) and Form DS-160 Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application. However, it might be said that the application process starts long before. The application fee is $800.

There are millions of jokes regarding the stereotypes of foreign citizens organizing a fraudulent marriage to gain citizenship, though it might be said the sometimes decade-plus wait times for other types of visas contribute to this.

USCIS has several, at times intrusive rules meant to detect fraud. One comes into play long before any application is filed. There is a two-year rule, which dictates that the couple must have met in person at least two years before filing the I-129F. Couples don’t need to be in a two-year or longer relationship, but before sending in forms, you need proof that you physically met at least 2 years prior. Despite the changing times and norms as well as the COVID epidemic, USCIS will not accept video chats, phone calls, or online meetings that do not satisfy this requirement.

That said, USCIS does permit some exceptions when meeting in person would cause conflicts with religious or cultural traditions as well as as when meeting physically would cause severe hardship to the foreign citizen. In these cases, you should submit a waiver, and proof that meeting would have been impossible or extraordinarily difficult, along with the I-129F application.

After this, the K-1 visa application process requires an interview between a USCIS representative and the couple, again with the intent of catching possible fraud. Here the USCIS representative will ask a series of questions meant to determine the legitimacy of the proposed marriage. There have been cases in the past where USCIS officials interpreted discomfort or nerves on the part of the foreign citizen fiancé(e) as evidence of fraud, and this has even been held up by immigration judges.