Fiancé(e) Visa

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Overview

A fiancé(e) of a United States citizen who wants to travel to the United States to marry and live after marriage must have a K-1 visa.

Qualifications

To qualify for a K-1 visa, the following conditions are necessary:

  • One party is a U.S. citizen.
  • Both parties are legally free to marry, that is to say neither party is currently married.
  • Both parties have met in person.
  • The marriage will take place within 90 days of the fiancé(e) entering the United States on the fiancé(e) visa.

How to Apply

Step 1: File an I-129F petition.
The first step in applying for a fiancé(e) visa is for the U.S. citizen fiancé(e) (the petitioner) to file a petition on Form I-129F with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The USCIS link above will give you specific instructions on where to mail the application. This petition must be filed with USCIS in the U.S. It cannot be filed with the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General.

Unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to derive status from the fiancé(e) visa petition filed on behalf of their parent (the beneficiary). Their names must be included in the petition. If the U.S. citizen is the natural father or mother of the child, the child may already have claim to U.S. citizenship and may be eligible for a U.S. passport.  In such cases, please contact the U.S. Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to you.

Application processing times vary on a case by case basis.  When filing the petition with USCIS, your fiancé (e) should ask how long the petition will take to be processed. A petitioner can also search for the status of a pending case online at the USCIS website using the petition case number.

If you plan to return to your permanent place of residence outside the United States after the marriage ceremony in the United States you should apply for a B-2 visa, or if eligible, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.  A Fiancé(e) Visa is not necessary if you do not plan to live full time in the United States.  If the marriage will take place outside the United States, and you plan to live full time in America, you will need an immigrant visa.

Step 2: Receive Approval Notice from USCIS.
Once the petition is approved by USCIS, the Notice of Approval I-797 will be mailed to the U.S. citizen petitioner or to the petitioner’s attorney, if one exists.  The petition is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire for additional processing before being forwarded to the Embassy or Consulate General with jurisdiction over the beneficiary’s place of foreign residence.

Validity of the approved I-129F petition.
The approved petition I-129F is valid for four months.  In order to qualify for a K visa, you must apply for your visa before the end of this four month period. If you need more than four months to finalize your visa application, your petition must be extended. The validity of the petition is noted in the Notice of Approval I-797.

If you need to extend your petition, please ask your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) to mail a signed and dated letter, addressed to the U.S. Consul of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or U.S. Consulate in Naha, or by fax (Tokyo: 03-3224-5929 Naha: 098-876-4243).  The letter must reaffirm that the U.S. citizen petitioner and the visa beneficiary remain legally free to marry and continue to intend to marry each other within 90 days of the beneficiary’s admission into the U.S. A reason for the extension must also be included in the letter. As soon as we receive this letter, we will review your petition for a possible extension. Please be aware that while we try to accommodate such requests, we cannot always provide extensions in all cases.

Step 3:  Receive Instructions from the Embassy or Consulate.
Once the NVC has finished processing your case, you will receive a notice that your case has been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo or Consulate in Naha.  This transfer will take approximately three weeks.  Please refrain from sending inquiries to the Embassy or Consulate during that time, as we will not be able to provide any detailed information about your case before it is received.

Upon receiving the visa beneficiary’s file from NVC, the Embassy in Tokyo will send visa instructions to the beneficiary on the next required steps to completing the application by email or mail.

Upon receiving the visa beneficiary’s file from NVC, the Consulate in Naha will send visa instructions to the beneficiary on the next required steps to completing the application by mail.

Unfortunately, due to the individual nature of such cases, it is not possible to send instructions until the Immigrant Visa Unit receives the visa applicant's file from NVC.

Step 4:  Complete and submit DS-160.
After receiving instructions from the Embassy in Tokyo or Consulate in Naha, each person applying for a visa, regardless of age, must complete and submit the DS-160 Visa Application online.  Parents may complete the application for any minor children.  You must print out the application confirmation page and bring it with you to your interview.

Step 5:  Create your profile.
Please create a profile.  After you log in, please click “Update Profile” and complete the information.  DO NOT schedule an appointment at this step. You will schedule an appointment later in the process.                                                                

Step 6:  Assemble documents necessary for your visa.
Click here for the document checklist.

All required documents on the checklist must be brought to the interview, unless information or documents are requested by the Embassy or Consulate during the initial application processing.  We highly recommend that you keep copies of all documents for your records.

Step 7:  Pay the fee and schedule a visa interview.
Once you have obtained all the documents for your case, you may schedule an appointment for your interview.  Log in to your profile, which you created at Step 5, and click “Schedule Appointment.”  To pay your visa fee, read the Bank and Payment Options page. This page explains how to make your visa fee payment.  Keep your receipt number to book your visa appointment.  You may want to print out a copy of your receipt for your records.

Step 8:  Come to your interview.
All K1/K2 visa applicants, regardless of age, are required to visit the Embassy or consulate in person for a formal visa interview.

On the day of your interview, please show up on time.  There is no need to be early.  You should plan on waiting up to two hours from the moment you go through security until your actual interview.  Please note that electronics are NOT allowed in any Embassy or Consulate for any reason.  If you are bringing minor children with you, you may wish to bring books or small non-electronic toys to entertain them. 

You will know on the day of your interview if you are approved or denied, or if we need any additional information to finish your case. If you are approved for a K-1 or K-2 visa, your passport with your valid K visa and documents will be returned by mail. Processing and mailing time take approximately one week, depending on a number of factors. Should your visa be denied, you will be informed in writing and advised of what recourse may be open to you.

No advance assurance can be given that you will receive a K-1 or K-2 visa. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR QUALIFYING FOR A FIANCE(E) VISA AND SATISFYING YOUR TRAVEL AND MARRIAGE PLANS RESTS EXCLUSIVELY WITH THE VISA APPLICANT. PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE A TICKET BEFORE OBTAINING A VISA.

Efforts will be made to process your visa case as quickly as possible. Please be aware that processing may take longer for some cases due to required administrative processing.

Step 9: Go to the United States.
The K-1 visa is generally valid for six months for a single entry to the United States. Possession of a valid visa is no guarantee of admission to America. An immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry determines your final admissibility to the U.S.

Once admitted to the U.S. as a fiancé(e), you have 90 days to marry your fiancé(e) and report this marriage to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Please note that this is 90 days, NOT three months, and plan accordingly.

Upon USCIS approval, you will be given conditional resident status (CF-1: conditional green card) as an immigrant in the U.S. IF YOU DEPART THE U.S. WITHOUT HAVING GAINED USCIS APPROVAL AS AN IMMIGRANT, YOU MUST QUALIFY FOR AN IMMIGRANT VISA OVERSEAS BEFORE YOU MAY RETURN TO THE U.S. This means you may have to apply for another immigrant visa at an Embassy or Consulate in a process similar to the K visa application process.  If you need to travel outside of the U.S. before completing the processing, you must apply for Advance Parole at USCIS in order to reenter the U.S. and continue processing.

Important Notice: Unmarried children under the age of 21 (K-2) are eligible to apply with their K-1 parent or follow-to-join the K-1 parent later. If following-to-join, a K-2 applicant must apply for and be issued, if qualified, a K-2 visa within one year from the day the K-1 parent was issued the K-1 visa.

More Information

For more information about visas for a spouse or fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, visit the Department of State's website.

Please also read "Information on the Legal Rights Available to Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in the United States and Facts about Immigrating on a Marriage-Based Visa Fact Sheet".