Your fiancé(e) requires a K-1 visa to enter the United States. You know that s/he is eligible to apply but the process seems complicated. For your information, CLG has listed the steps in the process below.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
In order to initiate the process, the petitioner (U.S. citizen) files a Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (form I-129F) on behalf of the beneficiary (foreign fiancé(e)) with the USCIS. After the fiancé(e) petition is filed, the USCIS will issue a receipt notice. After reviewing the fiancé(e) petition, the USCIS will issue an approval notice. The approved fiancé(e) petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Timing: Currently, the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) is approved (on average) within 4-5 months of filing.
National Visa Center (NVC)
The NVC performs a background check of your fiancé(e). Upon completion of the background check, the NVC will forward the approved fiancé(e) petition to the United States embassy or consulate located in your fiancé(e)’s home country.
Timing: Currently, the background check is completed and the fiancé(e) petition forwarded (on average) within 1 month of receipt from the USCIS.
United States Embassy or Consulate
Upon receipt of the approved fiancé(e) petition, the United States embassy or consulate will contact your fiancé(e) and provide specific instructions (known as ‘Packet 3’) regarding the K-1 (and K-2 for minor children) online nonimmigrant visa applications to complete, affidavit of support, obtaining a medical examination at a designated facility, the documentation to be presented at the interview and payment of K-1 (and K-2) visa fees. Once all requested material is received an interview will be scheduled.
At the interview, the consular officer will verify that all required documentation has been provided. Second, and more importantly, the consular officer will question your fiancé(e) in detail with respect to the specifics of your relationship in order to determine its legitimacy.
Assuming that the consular officer is satisfied, the K-1 application is approved and a K-1 visa is placed in your fiancé(e)’s passport. At that time, the United States embassy or consulate will also approve any K-2 visa application and place K-2 visa(s) in your fiancé(e)’s minor children’s passport(s). The visas will be valid for 6 months.
Timing: Currently, the interview is scheduled (on average) within 2-5 months of receipt of all requested material. K-1 and K-2 visas are issued within 7-10 days of approval.
Entering the United States
Upon issuance of the K-1 and K-2 visas, your fiancé(e) and any children must enter the United States within 6 months. The K-1 and K-2 visas are valid for a single entry. After entry, your fiancé(e) must marry you within 90 days. The 90 day period cannot be extended and your fiancé(e) cannot marry a different U.S. citizen. If your fiancé(e) does not marry you within 90 days of entry, they and their children (if any) must depart the United States at the end of the 90 day period. It is important to note that the 90 day period cannot be extended.
Permanent Resident (‘Green Card’) Status
Once you and your fiancé(e) are married, s/he and their children (if any) can file an application to adjust their status with the USCIS to become a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) of the United States.
If you have additional questions about the fiancé(e) visa process, you may wish to read our fiancé(e) visa FAQs.