The United States K Visa
The K visa is a nonimmigrant type of visa for individuals (and their accompanying minor children), who are the spouse or fiancé/fiancée of a US citizen and wish to enter the United States. Obtaining the K visa is a significant first step for many in becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States.
Like many other visas, getting a K visa isn’t very straightforward and can involve a lengthy and complex process. And given the purpose of the K visa, it’s imperative that the individual seeking a K visa complete all required steps properly. Therefore, it’s recommended to retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney, such as those at Saland Law.How the K Visa Fits into the Immigration Process
Generally speaking, the spouse (or soon-to-be spouse) of a US citizen will ultimately want to obtain US citizenship. But to get US citizenship, they will need to first become a lawful permanent resident, also known as getting a Green Card. To apply for a Green Card, the individual needs to complete Form I-485. And to complete Form I-485, an applicant will first need to legally enter the United States.
The K visa is designed to allow this legal entry into the United States for K visa applicants (and their minor children) as soon as practicable. The K visa helps also prevent long-term separation between loved ones while the immigration process is completed and a Green Card obtained.What Types of K Visas Are There?
There are four primary types of K visas:
- K-1 visa: This visa is issued to the fiancé or fiancée of a US citizen.
- K-2 visa: This visa is for the minor children of a K-1 visa beneficiary.
- K-3 visa: This visa is issued to the spouse of a US citizen.
- K-4 visa: This visa is for the minor children of a K-3 visa beneficiary.
Besides the spouse/fiancé/fiancée requirement, the requirements for getting a K visa are basically the same as any other visas. Some of these eligibility requirements include:
- Meeting basic medical requirements.
- Proving that the applicant (or his or her US citizen spouse, fiancé or fiancée) has the financial ability to prevent the applicant from becoming a public charge in the United States.
- Not having a criminal history that makes them ineligible for entry into the United States
- Not affiliated with known terrorist groups.
- No prior significant immigration violations, such as trying to illegally enter the United States.
The K-1 visa application process begins with the US citizen of the fiancé/fiancée filing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). The US citizen petitioner will file this at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that serves the region in which the petitioner resides. Once the USCIS approves Form I-129F, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for the next step which involves actually applying for the visa.
The K-1 visa application requires the completion of Form DS-160 and payment of the application fee. The K-1 visa applicant should apply at the US Embassy or Consulate where he or she lives. Next, an interview will be scheduled. Before the interview takes place, additional requirements may need to be met, such as a medical examination and completion of additional documentation, such as Form I-134, Affidavit of Support.
When attending the interview, the applicant must bring the following documentation:
- Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- A valid passport that will not expire until at least six months after the intended visit to the United States concludes.
- Applicable death or divorce certificates of the applicant and US citizen petitioner.
- Police certificates.
- Medical examination documentation.
- Two photographs.
- Proof of payment of fees.
- Evidence of financial ability. This may include Form I-134.
A consular officer may request additional documentation to substantiate the applicant’s relationship to the US citizen petitioner.The K-3 Visa Application Process
The K-3 visa application process largely parallels the K-1 visa application process. The most notable difference is that the US citizen petitioner must also complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative in addition to Form I-129F.The K-2 and K-4 Visa Application Process
Applicants seeking K-2 and K-4 visas must be unmarried, under 21 years of age and the child of a qualified K-1 or K-3 visa applicant. Assuming the K-2 and K-4 visa applicants are otherwise legally allowed to enter the United States, they can obtain their K-2 and K-4 visas by going through primarily the same application process as their parents who are applying for K-1 or K-3 visas.How Long Does it Take to Get a K Visa?
There is no exact timeline an applicant can expect for the K visa to be issued, as each situation is different. Mistakes or incomplete information can create significant delays. However, the entire K visa process will take at least several months and possibly up to a year in some situations. This is due largely because Form I-129F can take several months to be processed.How Long Will the K-1 Visa Last?
After the issuance of the K-1 visa, the K-1 visa beneficiary must enter the United States within six months. Then once in the United States, the individual must marry his or her US citizen fiancé/fiancée within 90 days.Bringing and Keeping Families Together
No matter where you live, home is not a physical location, but being with your family, creating a life and having a united future. Fortunately, the K visa provides both those in the United States and abroad the means to make America their home. Do not delay. Do not hesitate. Be smart, take control of your family’s future and start the process to secure a K visa.
Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.