The K-1 visa, more commonly known as the fiancé visa, is a nonimmigrant visa that is available to foreign nationals who are intending to marry U.S. citizens in the United States. The K-2 visa allows individuals traveling on K-1 visas to bring their children with them on a nonimmigrant basis.
K-1 and K-2 visas automatically expire after 90 days and are not eligible for extension. So, when applying for a K-1 or K-2 visa, timing is important. However, while technically categorized as nonimmigrant visas by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), individuals who travel to the U.S. on K-1 and K-2 visas are eligible to apply for green cards once the marriage has been finalized.
K-1 and K-2 Visa Eligibility Requirements
K-1 Fiancé Visas
The process of obtaining a K-1 visa begins with the fiancé who is a U.S. citizen filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. In order for a U.S. citizen to be eligible to file Form I-129F, both fiancés must:
- Intend to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancé’s admission to the United States;
- Be legally free to marry in the United States (i.e. any previous marriages have been legally terminated); and
- Meet in person at least once within the two-year period prior to the filing of Form I-129F (or request a waiver based upon “long-established customs” or extreme hardship).
Once the Form I-129F filing has been approved, USCIS will forward the approval to the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the foreign fiancé’s country of residence, and then he or she will be able to apply for a K-1 visa. As long as the marriage takes place within 90 days of the foreign fiancé’s admission, the foreign fiancé can then apply for a green card using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
K-2 Visas for Children of Fiancés
K-2 visas are available to children of fiancés traveling on K-1 visas who are unmarried and under 21 years of age. When filing Form I-129F, the U.S. citizen-fiancé must include the name of each child for which admission to the United States is sought. Each child must remain unmarried and under age 21 at the time of entry and must travel to the United States with or after his or her parent. As long as the parent’s marriage takes place within 90 days, a child traveling to the U.S. on a K-2 visa will become eligible to apply for a green card provided that he or she remains unmarried.
Work Authorizations for Fiancés and New Spouses
In addition to becoming eligible for a green card, fiancés who travel to the U.S. on K-1 visas are also immediately eligible to apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. While this initial authorization is only valid for 90 days, once the marriage takes place, the foreign spouse can file Form I-765 together with Form I-485 and receive a one-year work authorization that can be extended in one-year increments.
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If you would like help filing Form I-129F to bring your fiancé to the United States, or if you have questions about any other immigration-related issue, we encourage you to get in touch. To speak with one of our highly-experienced immigration attorneys in confidence, please call 888-529-5990 or request an appointment online today.