What is the K1 Visa (fiancé visa)?
The K1 visa (fiancé visa) is the ideal route for US citizens who want to get wed in the US to their partner who currently lives in the Dominican Republic.
This nonimmigrant visa allows your Dominican Republic-based fiancé to come to the US to get married. However, the visa rules mean you must arrange your wedding within 90 days of your partner entering the US.
Once you are married, your new spouse can apply to adjust their status and qualify for a marriage green card (CR1 visa) without having to return to their home country.
Under the K1 visa, it is possible for dependents to travel to the US and subsequently adjust their status from a K 1 visa Dominican Republic holder following the marriage.
It may be advisable to seek advice from an immigration attorney before completing the application to avoid unnecessary visa processing delays or costs.
- What is the K1 Visa (fiancé visa)?
- How do you apply for a K1 Visa from the Dominican Republic?
- Eligibility for the K1 visa
- Completing the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) Form I-129
- Attending a visa interview in Santo Domingo
- How long for the K1 visa to be processed?
- Cost of applying for a K1 visa
- Can your Dominican fiancé work with a K1 visa?
- Can a K1 visa be extended?
- Once you have wed your Dominican partner
- How Can Total Law Help?
How do you apply for a K1 Visa from the Dominican Republic?
In order for your partner from the Dominican Republic to travel to the US to get married, they will need their US citizen partner to formally agree to sponsor them. This means filing an official I-129F petition completed form with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The form can be downloaded directly from the USCIS website and needs to be submitted with the correct documentation. It can only be completed by someone who has full US citizenship at the time of application.
If this petition is approved then it will be passed to the National Visa Centre (NCV) and your partner will be asked to submit an application for a K1 visa and then given an appointment date to attend a face-face interview at their local US Embassy or Consulate.
If your partner has dependents, that would also like to travel to the United States with them, then they will need to ensure they are including them on the application so they can receive a K2 visa.
Eligibility for the K1 visa
For a K1 visa to be granted then all the following requirements must be met. Also any supporting documents must be submitted in English or a certified English translation otherwise they will be rejected.
You must be a U.S citizen if you are planning to sponsor your partner – Green card holders are not able to sponsor their Dominican fiancé for a K1 visa. You must submit required documents to prove your citizenship and your ability to be a sponsor.
The wedding must take place within 90 days – the K1 visa requires the marriage to take place within 3 months of the overseas partner arriving in the US. You will be asked to provide details of the forthcoming nuptials as well as information about your relationship.
You must have met your partner in person at least once within the previous 24 months – you will need to show that you have both met each other at least once in the two years before applying for the K1 visa petition. However, it is possible for an exemption of this requirement if it violates cultural traditions – you may wish to seek attorney services if you want to apply for a waiver of this visa requirement.
You must both be legally free to marry in the US – you must both be single and not currently married to another person at the time of applying for the visa. If either of you has been married before then you will be required to show evidence that any previous marriages are no longer valid – this can be done by submitting divorce decrees or death certificates.
You need to met the necessary financial requirements – when sponsoring your Dominican fiancé you will have to show that you have sufficient income and funds to support your wife/husband when you begin living together in the US. The USCIS are able to provide more detail on what the most up-to-date required financial requirements are as it does vary between states.
Completing the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) Form I-129F
Your partner will be need to submit a Form I-29F before they are able to travel from the Dominican Republic. The application, which can be submitted online, requires the following documents to be submitted alongside their form:
- Proof of the US citizenship of their citizen sponsor – this can be an original birth certificate, official adoption decree
- Copy of the passport of the U.S citizen or naturalization certificate
- Evidence that shows the relationship is genuine – this can include phone bills, photographs, witness statements from friends and family members etc
- Proof that you have met in person at least once within the past 2 years – the immigration services will ask for supporting documents such as hotel bookings, flight records etc
- A statement from you and your partner detailing your relationship and your plans to get married
- Two passport-sized color photos of each partner – this must not be taken than a month before making the visa application.
- Divorce or death certificate to prove they are not already married.
The form and supporting documents will be reviewed by the consular section and if approved the application will be passed to the National Visa Center who will then forward it on to the local US Embassy in Santo Domingo.
Visa interview in Santo Domingo
Your fiancé will then need to complete a DS-160 form and then will then receive an appointment letter with an interview date and time to visit the US embassy.
The DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) Form can be completed online and allows for temporary travel to the US. Your partner will need to take a copy of the confirmation page to their interview.
Part of the aim of the consular interview is to establish if your relationship is genuine and your fiancé will be asked questions about their upcoming marriage and plans once they come to the US. After the visa interview and, if the consular officer, accepts the answers given by the visa applicant then a K1 visa will be approved. Alternatively, they could delay a decision while they request further evidence.
How long for the K1 visa to be processed?
It could take around six months to process your partner’s K1 visa application. This wait time can vary due to consular processing times or if you fail to complete the form correctly, don’t include the required documents or do not submit translations of documents. In many cases, seeking advice from an immigration law firm may help to avoid unnecessary delays to the visa process.
Cost of applying for a K1 visa
There are a number of fees that need to paid when making a K1 visa application. These include a visa application processing fee as well as a medical examination fee. Anyone applying will be asked to pay at the time of application:
- A K1 visa fiancé(e) petition (Form I-129F) visa application fee of $535
- A consulate visa fee for non-immigrant visa application processing of $265
Following your marriage, if you wish to live in the country, then your husband or wife will need apply to a change of status to become a marriage-based green card holder – this will involve an additional fee to pay.
Can your Dominican fiancé work with a K1 visa?
If your partner wishes to work during their 90 day stay in the US they must be approved for work authorization and must submit a Form I-765. If granted, the authorization will only cover the 90 days associated with their K1 visa application.
Once you are married, your new spouse can apply to adjust status from a K1 visa to a marriage green card and then reapply for work authorization that will allow them to work for a period of 12 months.
Can a K1 visa be extended?
The K1 visa can only be extended for specific reasons as it is only granted for 90 days to allow your future spouse to come to the country to get married.
If the wedding is cancelled then your partner must return to the Dominican Republic before their K1 visa expires. There are severe penalties for outstaying a visa that could have long term implicants on any future applications.
However, if you decide not to get married then your partner must return to before the end of the 90 days – if they overstay the visa restrictions it could mean they will be automatically refused from applying for future visas in the US.
If there is a valid reason for delaying the marriage ceremony , then you can apply for exemption. This involves completing a Form I-130 and an adjustment of status form. There is an additional visa fee to pay and your partner may need to have another medical examination and interview.
Once you have wed your Dominican partner
After the wedding, you and your new wife/husband can apply for permanent residence in the US. To do this you will need to apply for adjustment of status from a K1 visa to a CR1 visa( the Marriage Green Card).
If approved, the green card will allow your partner to live in the US and work or study without additional restrictions. When applying for the new green card, your partner will not need to return to the Dominican Republic.
You will need to submit a range of documents to apply for the marriage green card such as a valid marriage certificate etc. The Conditional Residence visa is valid for two years and can then be converted to a IR1 visa.
After 3 years of living continuously in the US under a marriage green card, your wife or husband will become eligible to apply for naturalization to make the US their permanent residence.
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We recognize that immigration and visa applications are major decisions in a person’s life and that they can impact many lives.
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