The K-1 Visa
is for the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen who seeks to enter the U.S. for the sole purpose of marrying the U.S. citizen petitioner. Upon entry, the couple must marry within 90 days. The foreign national may then apply for adjustment of status to U.S. permanent resident. Minor children of the fiancé(e) may accompany him or her with a K-2 visa. Both K-1 and K-2 nonimmigrants are authorized to work in the U.S.
The U.S. citizen files an I-129F petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services with proof that they have a bona fide intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s entry; that there are no legal impediments to the marriage; and that the couple has previously met in person within two years of filing the petition. The criminal record, if any, of the USC petitioner must also be submitted where he or she was convicted of any of the following crimes:
- Domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, dating violence, elder abuse, and stalking.
- Homicide, murder, manslaughter, rape, abusive sexual assault, sexual exploitation, incest, torture, trafficking, peonage, holding hostage, involuntary servitude, slave trade, kidnapping, abduction, unlawful criminal restraint, false imprisonment, or an attempt to commit any of these crimes.
- Crimes relating to a controlled substance or alcohol where the petitioner has been convicted on at least three occasions and where such crimes did not arise from a single act.
Once the petition is approved by USCIS, it is valid for four months, and can be re-validated for 4-month periods. The approved petition is first sent to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center in the U.S., and then on to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the foreign national is scheduled to appear for interview and issuance of the visa.
The K-3 Visa
is for a foreign national who has a valid marriage to a U.S. citizen who has filed an I-130 immigrant petition with USCIS on the foreign national’s behalf, and the foreign national seeks to enter the U.S. to await the approval of the immigrant petition. The minor child/ren of the foreign national spouse may be issued a K-4 visa. K-3/K-4 nonimmigrants are admitted for two years initially (with one extension possible) and are eligible to apply for employment authorization. Once the I-130 is approved, the foreign national beneficiary may apply for adjustment of status with USCIS or for an immigrant visa with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
The U.S. citizen files an I-129F petition with USCIS, along with proof that the I-130 has been filed with USCIS. The same criminal record documents mentioned above must also be submitted if applicable. Once approved, the petition is sent to the National Visa Center for processing of the criminal background check on the foreign national, and then to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for processing of the K-3 visa. However, if the I-130 has already been approved and sent to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, then the K-3 will not be issued and instead the immigrant visa will be processed there.