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K-1 Fiance(e) Visa Overview

The K-1 visa permits the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States for a 90-day admission period in which the couple must marry and then apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence. The K-1 is actually a nonimmigrant visa classification designed to facilitate the admission of intending immigrants to the U.S. Therefore, issuance of the K-1 at the Consulate requires much of the same information as an immigrant visa would. This comprehensive information is basically then re-submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“CIS”) when the adjustment of status application is filed. K-1 visa processing can take longer in the end since it requires comprehensive (and often duplicative) personal and supporting documentation to be submitted at two stages of the process.

A K-1 visa is issued to the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen after a petition is filed with CIS and approved. The couple must prove to CIS that: a) they have previously met in person within two years of the date of filing the petition (unless a waiver is granted); b) they have a legitimate intention to marry; and c) they are legally able and willing to conclude a valid marriage in the U.S. within 90 days of the fiancé(e)’s arrival. If the couple does not marry within 90 days, the K-1 fiance(e) and any of his or her K-2 dependents (children under 21) must depart the U.S. If they fail to leave, they may be rendered removable from the U.S.

Once CIS approves the fiancé(e) petition, the appropriate Consulate is notified (in Canada, this is Montreal) and they issue a letter to the beneficiary outlining the next set of steps for the visa application. Once the required documents are submitted to the Consulate and the necessary security clearances are conducted, the applicant is interviewed and the K-1 visa will be issued with a validity period of six months. The visa is a one-entry visa, meaning once it is “activated” the 90 day period required for marriage begins. However, the beneficiary may enter the U.S. as a visitor and then choose later to enter as a K-1 within the six-month validity of the visa.

Page Summary: A fiance may be brought to the United States prior to marriage.