The K-1 Visa: Bringing Your Intended Spouse to the U.S.

The K-1 Visa, Also Known as Dual Intent Visa

A K-1 visa is the process by which a U.S. citizen may marry a foreigner and have that person legally reside in this country. Because there are two objectives for the visa, it is called a dual intent visa. The K-1 visa requires that the person entering the country marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry. Once the couple marries, the foreign citizen can adjust status to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States and a Green Card holder.

The K-1 visa is legally classified as a non-immigrant visa, but usually includes important immigration benefits. Because of these immigration benefits it is often processed by the Immigrant Visa section of United States embassies and consulates worldwide. In the event that a K-1 visa holder does not marry his or her U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days of entry, then he or she must depart the United States within 30 days.

K-1 Visa Filing process

The process is initiated when the U.S. citizen starts the K-1 filing process here in the U.S. The intended spouse is interviewed at the U.S. Consulate in their home country.  This procedure cannot be started with immigration offices outside the U.S.

The U.S. citizen petitioner must submit a variety of supporting documents when filing a K-1 petition for the intended spouse. The process is similar for the  potential spouse in their country of origin. They also need to undergo medical examinations as well as appear for interviews.

At many consulates case processing currently can take anywhere from 7 to 9 months for a well-prepared K-1 visa. Some applicants will be required to wait up to a year because the processing time is dependant on the number of applications the agency receives.

K-1 visas are not subject to priority dates like some other types of visas. K-1 visas are not limited in number and thousands of them are issued to the intended spouses of U.S. citizens every year.

The Customs and Immigration Service will review the Form I-129F that the U.S. citizens has filed and then forward the applications to the National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will take around one month to process these petitions. NVC will take more time to process these applications if additional supporting documents are required.

After the approval of the intended spouse’s visa applications, NVC will forward the applications to the U.S. Embassies or Consulates, in the home countries of the intended spouse. After verification the intended spouse, called the beneficiary, will be called for interviews.

K-1 visas will be issued after the consulates or embassies ensure that the beneficiary is eligible for a visa. Eligibility is based on the interview and  the supporting documents provided.  These visas will be valid for a 90 day period, before which the beneficiaries must get married to the petitioners in the United States.

The great majority of K-1 visas applied for are granted. In 2009, 95 percent of the K-1 visa applications were approved: out of 29,127 K-1 visas applied for, 27,678 were issued, and 1,449 refused, and 1,266 were waived/overcome.

DiJulio Law Group