Understanding the K1 Visa Process

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Understanding the K1 Visa Process

Bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States involves many agencies, including the USCIS, the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At each step of the process, various entities might conduct security and background checks on both you and your fiancé(e). Checks in several databases for national security, criminal history, and other information about you and your fiancé(e) are common. Fingerprints, names, or additional biographic or biometric information are needed for these types of checks.

It’s essential to understand this process before it begins. If you need help or have questions, contact an experienced Chicago immigration attorney.

Step 1: Petition for Fiancé(e) – USCIS

Use the accompanying instructions to complete Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This form is a request for USCIS to acknowledge the relationship between you and your fiancé(e). Your form and any supporting documents are reviewed. If further evidence or documentation is necessary, you will hear from USCIS.

Suppose you are able to establish your eligibility. In that case, your Form I-129F will be approved, and your claimed fiancé(e) relationship will now be recognized. If you can’t establish your eligibility, USCIS will deny your form and tell you the reasons for the denial.

Next, your form is sent to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC).

Step 2:  Visa Application – DOS

The NVC sends your approved Form I-129F to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, where your fiancé(e) should apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Typically, this is the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your fiancé(e) currently resides.

The U.S. Embassy or consulate will tell you when the visa interview for your fiancé(e) is to be held. Next, your fiancé(e) applies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa and brings the mandatory documents and forms to their visa interview. 

The DOS consular officer will determine if your fiancé(e) qualifies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa. If they do, it’s good for up to six months for a single entry.

If the consular officer doesn’t determine the relationship to be genuine, DOS won’t issue a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Rather, they will return Form I-129F to USCIS. Generally, if DOS returns a Form I-129F to us after it has expired, the USCIS will allow it to remain expired. Even still, you have the option to file a new Form I‑129F.

Step 3:  Port of Entry Inspection – CBP

If DOS grants a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé(e) will then travel to the U. S. and obtain admission at a port of entry with their valid K-1 nonimmigrant visa. However, like other visas, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa doesn’t guarantee admission into the U.S. A CBP port of entry officer makes the final decision about your fiancé(e)’s admission.

Step 4: Marriage

If your fiancé(e) receives admission as a K-1 nonimmigrant, you and your fiancé(e) have 90 days to legally marry.

Step 5:  Adjustment of Status – USCIS

If you legally marry within 90 days, your fiancé(e) turned spouse can apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

USCIS reviews the documents your spouse submits. They might mail an evidence request to your spouse if additional information or documentation is needed.

Then, you and your spouse will typically be required to come in for an interview.

Suppose you were married for under two years when Form I-485 is approved. In that case, USCIS will approve your spouse for conditional permanent resident status and give them a Green Card valid for two years. Your spouse will need to remove the conditions on their residence in the 90 days before their Green Card elapses by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. 

Each immigration case is unique, and the length of the K1 Visa process differs from one case to the next.  Keep in mind that the USCIS processes fiancé(e) petitions in the order in which they are received. 

Speak with a Chicago Immigration Lawyer

An experienced Chicago immigration attorney can provide you with the guidance and advice you need if you are seeking a visa to bring your fiancé(e) to the U.S. Although the process is sometimes burdensome and may be difficult, the dedicated lawyers at Kriezelman Burton & Associates are capable and seasoned immigration lawyers.

We are well-versed in the proof that is required when applying for a fiancé(e) visa, and know the kinds of questions that you may be asked in an interview. We take care in preparing our immigration clients so that they might have the best possible chance of bringing their loved ones to the U. S. Contact us today to meet with a knowledgeable Chicago immigration lawyer and learn more about the K1 Visa process.