APPLYING FOR A K1 VISA
An American begins the process of petitioning a foreign fiancé(e) by filing a form I-129F with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Once a visa petition has been filed and approved, the USCIS service center sends it to the National Visa Center of the State Department, which in turn forwards it to the Embassy or Consulate nearest the foreign fiancé(e). The Embassy or Consulate will notify the foreign fiancé(e) that a petition has been received, and provide information about how to schedule a medical exam with the panel physician as well as how to schedule an appointment for a visa interview at the Embassy.
At the visa interview a Consular officer reviews the documents that both the American petitioner and the foreign fiancé(e) have submitted. The Consular officer looks for evidence of a relationship, and asks the foreign fiancé(e) questions to determine that a bona fide relationship exists. Typically, Embassies request that fiancé(e)s bring evidence of their relationship to the interview, such as photographs together, correspondence between the two, evidence of remittances to the fiancé(e), phone bills showing calls to each other, etc.
Once the interview is finished, the Consular officer can issue the visa, if he is convinced of a bona fide relationship that meets all legal requirements. The officer may also request that further evidence be submitted before making a decision.
A K1 visa is printed on a self adhesive label, similar to a tourist visa, but annotated with the name of the petitioner. The label is placed into the fiancé(e)’s passport. It is valid for one entry into the United States within six months of the date of issuance.
The total time from filing of the initial petition to the actual issuance of a visa can vary, but recently has averaged around eight months. The length of time depends partly on the processing speed of the USCIS center that receives the visa petition, as well as availability of appointments at the Embassy or Consulate nearest to the foreign fiancé(e).
Requirements for a K1 Visa
Both fiancees must be eligible to be lawfully married in the state of residence of the petitioner. For example, at the time the visa petition is filed, as well as at issuance, they must both be of legal age, and not already married to each other or to anyone else. Some individuals are ineligible for any immigrant visa, such as those with certain untreated communicable diseases, those who have committed crimes of moral turpitude, those who are addicted to illegal drugs, persons who were previously deported from the US, etc.
Both fiancees must have met in person at least once within two years prior to filing the visa petition. This requirement may be waived by the Department of Homeland Security, but only for cases such strong cultural or religious traditions which preclude such a meeting.
Visa applicants are required to demonstrate to the Consular officer that they are unlikely to become public charges in the United States . Generally, this is accomplished by the petitioner filing an Affidavit of Support.
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