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K1 Visa Process Overview

A quick overview of how the K1 visa process works (from the beginning to your fiancee's naturalization as a U.S. citizen) follows:

  • You prepare a K1 visa application for submission to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The USCIS oversees immigration services, which includes processing K1 fiancee visas. Careful, professional analysis of your case and preparation of the K1 visa application is very important, as good preparation increases your chances for approval and decreases the length of time you will be waiting for approval. It will also make things easier and smoother at the consulate.

  • You wait for USCIS to process your petition. Depending on where you live in the U.S., this wait can be as short as 1 - 2 months or as long as 6 months or more at any given time (for more on this, see the page on K1 Processing Times on this web site). This part of the process often involves the longest wait. Again, careful, professional analysis and preparation is important; if there is a problem with your case, the USCIS will not usually tell you until they actually get around to processing your case, which could be many months after its submission. Any problems will, at a minimum, result in delay and, if handled poorly, can greatly lengthen processing time.

  • Upon approval of your K1 petition by USCIS, it is forwarded to the Department of State's National Visa Center ("NVC"). After completing initial processing, the NVC forwards the case on to the appropriate U.S. consulate, which then sends one or more sets of visa applications directly to your fiancee.

  • Your fiancee submits the visa applications to the Consulate. Although your fiancee may prepare these applications and submit them directly in order to save time, if you retain me I will either prepare the applications for them or review the applications before their submission. I will also prepare other paperwork you will need to submit to the consulate to show your ability and willingness to support your fiancee.

  • Your fiancee waits for a visa interview. This can take from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the U.S. consulate involved and the size of their processing backlog. Before their interview, your fiancee will have to undergo a medical examination. The focus of the medical examination will be on identifying communicable diseases of public health significance, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. If your fiancee has any such conditions, it may still be possible for them to obtain a waiver that would allow them to receive a K1 fiancee visa.

  • Your fiancee attends their visa interview. Your fiancee will be advised on the spot if they will be given a visa, and the actual visa will be issued shortly after that. If you have retained me and the consul has any questions or concerns, I will promptly deal with them.

  • Your fiancee travels to the U.S. within 6 months of receiving their K1 visa. You have 90 days from their arrival date to marry.

  • You marry your fiancee within 90 days, making them eligible to adjust their status to that of legal permanent resident. Ideally, the adjustment of status application is also submitted within 90 days of their arrival (if it is not, your new spouse will begin accruing "unauthorized time" in the U.S. If this unauthorized time amounts to more than 180 days before the application is submitted, they will not be able to travel outside the U.S. prior to becoming a legal permanent resident without triggering a 3 or 10 year "travel bar," which would prevent their return to the U.S.). If you hire me in your K1 case, you will usually have the option to hire me to prepare your fiancee's adjustment of status application.

  • While your spouse is waiting to become a legal permanent resident, they can obtain authorization to work. Provided they do not have a travel bar issue, they can also obtain "advance parole," which gives them permission to travel outside the U.S. without being deemed to have abandoned their adjustment of status application. One-time preparation of the paperwork necessary to obtain permission to work and/or permission to travel is included in my fee for preparing an adjustment of status application.

  • Your spouse is always scheduled for biometrics (fingerprinting and digital photo) collection, and may eventually be scheduled for an adjustment of status interview. The USCIS is currently waiving the interview requirement in most adjustment of status cases involving K1 visa holders, but still schedules interviews in a small percentage of cases. Good, professional preparation of your fiancee's adjustment of status application reduces the chances you will have an interview, and will make the interview process easier if one is required. Although I will not ordinarily attend the interview with you, if you hired me to prepare your adjustment of status application, I will let you know what to expect at the interview and go over what you will need to take with you if one is scheduled. I can also help you locate an attorney in your area if for any reason you or I feel that you need representation at the interview.

  • Your spouse becomes a "conditional" legal permanent resident. You will have to file a joint petition to remove that condition within the 90 days prior to the end of the second full year that they have been a conditional permanent resident. If I represented you in your K1 visa case and prepared your fiancee's adjustment of status package, you can retain me to prepare a petition to remove conditions for you when the time comes. While it is possible, in most cases the USCIS does not require an interview in order to remove the conditions on your spouse's legal permanent residence -- especially if the joint petition to remove conditions has been prepared well.

  • After being a legal permanent resident for three years (time spent as a "conditional" legal permanent resident counts towards this), your spouse usually will be eligible for naturalization and to become a U.S. citizen based on their marriage to you. Careful, professional analysis of their eligibility is important, as the rules surrounding naturalization are complicated. If they are eligible, your spouse's application for naturalization can be filed at any time after 90 days before the end of their third year of permanent residence. If you hired me to represent you in your K1 visa case and to prepare your spouse's adjustment of status case, you can also retain me to prepare your spouse's naturalization case when the time comes.

The information on this web site regarding immigration, K1 fiancee visas, I-130 petitions, and K3 spouse visas is general, and cannot be substituted for legal advice.

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