What is the K1 Visa?
The K1 visa is the route for US citizens who are looking to marry their Vietnam-born partner in the United States.
This non-immigrant visa allows your Vietnamese citizen fiancé to come to the US to get married – although immigration law means you must arrange your wedding within 90 days of your partner entering the company.
Once you are married, your new spouse can apply to adjust their status and apply for a marriage green card (CR1 visa) without having to return to Vietnam.
Under the K1 visa, it is possible for dependents to travel to the US and subsequently adjust their status following the marriage and your partner’s change in status.
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?
- How do I apply for a K 1 Visa for my Vietnamese fiancé?
- Eligibility for the K1 visa
- Income criteria for a K1 Visa application
- Completing the Form I-129F
- Visa interview in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City
- How long does it take to get a K1 visa?
- How much does a K 1 visa cost?
- Does a K1 visa allow your Vietnam partner to work?
- Is it possible to extend a K1 visa?
- What happens after marrying your Vietnamese partner?
- How Can Total Law Help?
How do I apply for a K 1 Visa for my Vietnamese fiancé?
The first step to bring your future spouse to the US to get wed is to agree to sponsor and file an official I-129F petition completed form with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form can be downloaded from the USCIS website. You can only sponsor your fiancé if you are have full US citizenship.
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 they would also like to travel to the United States with them, then they will need to ensure they include them on the application.
Eligibility for the K1 visa
In order to be granted the K1 visa you must meet the following requirements and all supporting documents must be in English or a certified English translation format.
You must be a US citizen. Green card holders are not able to sponsor their Vietnamese partners for a K1 visa. However, there is an alternative route available as they can marry overseas and then file for a F2A visa. You must submit required documents to prove this.
You must marry within 90 days of your foreign fiancé coming to the US. Immigration services will want to see evidence that your planned marriage is genuine as well as details of the upcoming wedding.
You must be legally free to marry in the United States. This means that both of you are single and are not currently married to another person. If either of you have been previously married, then you need to provide evidence that they are no longer married. This could be proof of divorce from their previous spouse with a divorce decree or a death certificate if widowed.
You must have met your foreign citizen fiancé(e) in person at least once within the last two years. These meetings must have occurred within two years of making a K1 visa petition. It is possible to apply for a waiver of this nonimmigrant visa requirement if you can prove that meeting in person would violate the cultural traditions and customs of your partner’s country or if the meeting would create extreme hardship for either party.
You can prove that you meet the necessary income requirements. If you are sponsoring your Vietnam partner, you must demonstrate that you have the financial ability to support both you and your future spouse while living in the US. You will need to prove that you have the required current income as suggested by the Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Income criteria for a K1 Visa application
The K1 does not require visa applicants to met specific income requirements must they must ensure they file a DS-5540 (Public Charge Questionnaire) to prove that they will not become a public charge during their time in the country.
However, the sponsoring US citizen must be at or above 100 per cent of the Federal Poverty Level. This amount does vary depending on states and other factors that can be explained by contacting the USCIS office.
Completing the Form I-129F
As part of the K1 visa application your Vietnam partner will need to complete a Form I-29F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)). Alongside the form, they are required to provide supporting documents to the immigration authorities including:
- Proof of the citizenship of the US sponsor – such as original birth certificates, official adoption decree
- Copy of the passport of the US citizen or naturalization certificate
- Evidence that shows the relationship is genuine – this can include phone bills, photographs, witness statements from friends 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 more than 30 days before applying for the visa
- Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouses
The form and supporting documents will be reviewed and if approved the application will be passed to the National Visa Center who will then forward it on to the local US Embassy or Consulate. In Vietnam the US Embassy is in Hanoi and the US Consulate is in Ho Chi Minh City.
Visa interview in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City
Your fiancé will then need to complete a DS-160 form and then will then receive a visa interview appointment letter with an interview date and time.
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 confirmation of completing this form to their visa 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 marriage plans and background. After the visa interview in Hanoi or Ho Chin Minh City and if the consular officer accepts the answers given by the visa applicant then a K1 visa will be approved.
How long does it take to get a K1 visa?
It can take between 5 to 7 months for the administrative processing of your Vietnamese partner’s K1 visa application. This 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 Vietnamese documents. In many cases, seeking advice from an immigration law firm may help to avoid unnecessary delays to visa applicants.
How much does a K 1 visa cost?
There are a number of costs associated with a K1 visa application. These include a visa application processing fee as well as potentially medical examination fees. K1 visa applicants will be asked to pay:
- 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
Once married if you plan to live together in the US then your partner from Vietnam will need to apply for an adjustment of status for the ma
Does a K1 visa allow your Vietnam partner to work?
If you fiancé(e) wishes to work during their 90 day stay in the US they must be approved for work authorization and file 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 change from a K1 visa to a marriage green card and then reapply for work authorization that will allow them to work for up to one year.
Is it possible to extend a K1 visa?
When approved, the K1 visa has a 90 day limit to allow you to get married in the US. However, if you decide not to get married then your partner must return to Vietnam 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 your marriage, then you can apply for an adjustment of status. To do this, you will need to submit Form I-130 and an adjustment of status form. There is an additional visa fee and your partner may need to have another medical examination and visa interview.
What happens after marrying your Vietnamese partner?
Once married, you and your new spouse 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 (often referred to as the Marriage Green Card).
Once granted the green card will allow your wife or husband to live freely in the US and work or study without restrictions. Your partner does not need to return to Vietnam while they apply for the CR1 visa.
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 which has a time limit of 10 years.
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 become a US citizen.
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