The immigration laws provide a nonimmigrant visa classification ("K-1") for persons coming to the United States to marry American citizens and reside here. A person who is already married to a U.S. citizen may apply for permanent residence through marriage , but may not apply for a fiancee visa.
To establish K-1 visa classification for an alien fiance(e), an American citizen must file a petition, Form I-129F, Petition for Relative or Fiance(e), with the Regional Service Center of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) having jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner's residence in the United States. Such petitions may not be adjudicated abroad. The approved petition will be forwarded by INS to the American consular office where the alien fiance(e) will apply for his or her visa. A petition is valid for a period of four months from the date of INS action, and may be revalidated by the consular officer.
Applicants who have a communicable disease, or have a dangerous physical or mental disorder; are drug addicts; have committed serious criminal acts, including crimes involving moral turpitude, drug trafficking, and prostitution; are likely to become a public charge; have used fraud or other illegal means to enter the United States; or are ineligible for citizenship, must be refused a visa. The two-year foreign residency requirement for former exchange visitors is also applicable. If found to be ineligible, the consular officer will advise the applicant if the law provides for a waiver.
Upon receipt of an approved petition, the American consular officer will notify the beneficiary and give him or her the necessary forms and instructions to apply for a "K" visa. Since a fiance(e) visa applicant is an intending immigrant, he or she must meet most of the same documentary requirements of an immigrant visa applicant. In addition to the prescribed application forms, the following documents are normally required:
Both petitioner and beneficiary must be legally able and willing to conclude a valid marriage in the United States. The petitioner and beneficiary must have previously met in person within the past two years unless the Attorney General waives that requirement. As soon as the processing of a case is completed and the applicant has all necessary documents, a consular officer will interview the fiance(e). If found eligible, a visa will be issued, valid for one entry during a period of six months. A non-refundable $20.00 application fee is collected at posts which issue machine-readable visas.
At the port of entry, the alien fiance(e) will receive a stamp in his or her passport giving temporary permission to work pending marriage to the U.S. citizen. The marriage must take place within 90 days of admission into the United States. Following the marriage, the alien spouse must apply to the INS to establish a record of entry for conditional permanent residence status. After two years, the alien may apply to the INS for removal of the conditional status.
The unmarried, minor children of a K-1 beneficiary derive "K-2" nonimmigrant visa status from the parent so long as the children are named in the petition. A separate petition is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien fiance(e) within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1 visa. Thereafter, a separate immigrant visa petition is required.
The alien fiance(e) must apply for work authorization with the INS.