Fiancées or spouses of the U.S. citizens and their unmarried children (K visas)

Family ties are a major reason that people travel to the U.S. under non-immigrant visas. Marriages between foreign nationals and the United States citizens allow foreign spouses, or foreign fiancées, to enter the country to reside with their American spouse. Temporary family visas often lead to green cards. Ways a temporary family visa holder may get permanent resident status will be discussed in section 2 of this book.


K visas apply to engagements and marriages. The rules for fiancées and spouses are different. Let's take a look at each K category visa.




A person who is engaged to be married to a United States citizen may qualify for a K-1 fiancée visa. The U.S. citizen fiancée must sponsor their intended bride or groom, and marriage must take place within 90 days of the foreign partner's entry. The process for securing this visa is rather complicated compared to other types of visas because both parties must play a role. The U.S. fiancée is the petitioner, while the foreign fiancée is the visa applicant. Both most originate their paperwork in their respective countries. Once the U.S. citizen’s petition is accepted, the Consulate informs the foreign fiancée that he/she may begin the process of applying for K-1 visa.


Here are a few more facts about the K-1 visa


     The couple must have seen each other in person sometime within the last two years (unless there is a religious reason or extreme hardship to the U.S. partner preventing a meeting, in which case the couple may seek a waiver.)


     Both parties must be legally eligible to get married, meaning that both are unmarried and of legal age.


     The couple must have a genuine and sincere plan to get married within 90 days of the foreign partner’s entry date.


     A K-1 visa may not be renewed or extended.


The USCIS is careful to note that the K-1 visa applicant is not guaranteed entry. They must still prove that they are admissible. If they are inadmissible, the usual procedures for waiver apply. If the fiancée has an offense that is not subject to waiver, they will not be allowed to enter on a K-1 visa.


After the marriage, the couple must submit an application for a Green Card to obtain a permanent residency in the U.S. for a foreign citizen.




A K-2 visa may be issued to the children under age 21 of the K-1 visa holder. This way, the future step-children may accompany their parent to the States for the marriage. Once the K-1 holder marries the U.S. citizen, these children will be eligible to apply for a Green Card together with their parent.


I’m already married, but my spouse still lives in another country. How do I bring them to the U.S.?




While a K-1 visa is for people not yet married, the K-3 visa applies to couples that have already wed. To qualify for a K-3 visa, the foreign spouses must demonstrate:


     They are married to a U.S. citizen


     The U.S. spouse has filed form I-130, a Petition for Alien Relative, and that it is pending.


After an I-130 petition is granted, the foreign spouse will be able to begin the green card process, which will be discussed in section 2 of this book.

Can my step-kids come with my spouse?


K-4 visas are available for the unmarried children of the K-3 holder. The marriage between the foreign parent and U.S. citizen must have taken place before the child’s 18th birthday.

Should I get married in the U.S. or abroad?

People who plan to move to the U.S. to live in marriage with a U.S. citizen should consider whether they should apply for a K-1 visa to get married in the States, or marry in their home country and come to the states through a K-3 visa. It's a personal decision based on every couple's customs, plans, and wishes. Also the visa application processes and waiting times are different. Which route will be the most beneficial for a couple depends on the parties’ personal circumstances and goals. You should always consult an experienced U.S. immigration attorney before making important marriage plans.

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