Applying for a K-1 Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re planning to marry a U.S. citizen and want to live in the United States, you may consider applying for a K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa. This visa allows engaged partners of U.S. citizens to enter the country, with the condition that they get married within 90 days of arrival. Once married, they can then apply for a marriage green card.

In this article, we’ll provide you with valuable information on the required documents for each stage of the application process. Whether you’re just starting out or already in the process, this guide will help you navigate through the necessary paperwork.

Essential Documents for a K-1 Visa Application

Before diving into the specific documents required, it’s important to note that each situation may vary. However, here is a general list of documents that you’ll typically need when applying for a K-1 visa:

  • Proof of citizenship for the U.S. citizen fiancé
  • Copy of the sponsored fiancé’s passport
  • Evidence of terminated marriages, if applicable
  • Proof of meeting within 2 years of applying
  • Evidence of any legal name change, if applicable
  • Sworn statements and evidence from both partners indicating their intent to marry and attesting to the legitimacy of their relationship
  • Copy of Form I-94 arrival-departure records, if applicable for the sponsored fiancé
  • Evidence supporting the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) waiver, if applicable
  • One passport-style photo for each fiancé
  • Two passport-style photos for the sponsored fiancé
  • Birth certificate for the sponsored fiancé
  • Valid, unexpired passport for the sponsored fiancé
  • Police clearance obtained from countries where the sponsored fiancé lived for more than 6 months, including their current country of residence
  • Sealed medical exam issued by an approved physician, obtained by the sponsored fiancé in their country of residence
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-134), submitted by the U.S. citizen fiancé
  • Most recent tax returns of the U.S. citizen fiancé
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A Step-by-Step Breakdown of Required Documents

Form I-129F – Initial Requirements

To kick off the application process, the U.S. citizen sponsor must submit Form I-129F. Here’s what you need to gather to ensure its approval:

I-129F Checklist

  • Document Type: Examples of Acceptable Documents: Who Needs It?

Remember that failing to submit the necessary evidence may result in rejection, so it’s crucial to double and triple check the list. If the primary documents are unavailable, you might be able to submit a statement from the issuing civil authority stating their unavailability. Additionally, secondary evidence, such as school records, U.S. census records, or baptismal certificates, can support your application. For more details, consult page 10 of the USCIS instructions for Form I-129F.

Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) – Ready for Submission

Once the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is approved, the sponsored fiancé will need to complete and submit Form DS-160. Both fiancés should gather the following items:

DS-160 Checklist

  • Valid, unexpired passport
  • Two passport-style photos
  • Birth certificate
  • Sealed medical exam given by an approved physician
  • Police clearance from all countries where the applicant lived for more than 6 months, including their current country of residence
U.S. Citizen Fiancé:
  • Evidence of a legitimate relationship with the approved I-129F
  • Affidavit of Support (more details in the next section)
  • Most recent tax returns

The consular officer will use the DS-160 form, along with the interview, to determine the sponsored fiancé’s eligibility for a K-1 visa. In the next section, we’ll discuss the essential documents you need to bring to the interview.

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Affidavit of Support (I-134) – Proving Financial Capability

As part of the visa application process, the U.S. citizen sponsor must submit an Affidavit of Support, demonstrating their ability to financially support their fiancé. When submitting Form I-134, the U.S. citizen sponsor should provide the following documents:

I-134 Checklist

  • Document Type: Required Documents

K-1 Visa Interview – Final Step

Once your DS-160 form is approved, it’s time to schedule an interview at your local embassy or consulate. Be sure to bring the following essential documents to your appointment:

K-1 Visa Interview Checklist

  • DS-160 confirmation page
  • Birth certificate
  • Police certificates for current country of residence and any other countries where the sponsored fiancé(e) lived for more than 6 months
  • Evidence of financial support (the Affidavit of Support may be required)
  • Proof of the relationship with the U.S. citizen sponsor
  • Fee payment
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months after arrival in the United States
  • Divorce or death certificates of previous spouses (for both fiancé(e)s)
  • Sealed medical examination
  • Two 2×2 photos

Many of these documents will already be familiar to you, as you’ve collected them during the previous stages of the K-1 visa application process. Remember to keep all your documentary evidence organized throughout the journey.

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the required documents, you’re better prepared to navigate the K-1 visa application process. If you’re unsure whether the K-1 visa or a spousal visa is the right choice for you, take our 5-minute questionnaire to help you get started.

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