The process for bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States involves USCIS, the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). At each stage in the process, background and security checks may be conducted on both you and your fiancé(e). This may include checks in various databases for national security, criminal history, and other information about you and your fiancé(e). These checks are conducted using fingerprints, names, or other biographic or biometric information.

Step 1: Petition for Fiancé(e) – USCIS

  1. You file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) according to the form instructions. This form asks USCIS to recognize the relationship between you and your fiancé(e).
  2. We review your Form I-129F and the documents you submitted. We may mail you a request for evidence if we need additional documentation or information.
  3. If you establish your eligibility, we approve your Form I-129F and recognize the claimed fiancé(e) relationship. Otherwise, we deny your Form I-129F and notify you of the reasons for denial.
  4. We send the approved Form I-129F to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC).

For additional information about filing the petition, see the Form I-129F and form instructions.

Step 2: Visa Application – DOS

1. The NVC forwards the approved Form I-129F to the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) will apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. This is generally the U.S. Embassy or consulate where your fiancé(e) lives.

2.The U.S. Embassy or consulate notifies you when the visa interview for your fiancé(e) is scheduled.

3.Your fiancé(e) applies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa and brings the required forms and documents to the visa interview.

4.The DOS consular officer determines whether your fiancé(e) qualifies for the K-1 nonimmigrant visa.

-If the consular officer grants the K-1 nonimmigrant visa, it is valid for up to 6 months for a single entry.

– If the consular officer does not find the relationship to be bona fide, DOS will not issue a K-1 nonimmigrant visa and instead will return the Form I-129F to USCIS. Generally, if DOS returns a Form I-129F to us after it has expired, we will allow it to remain expired. However, you may choose to file a new Form I‑129F.

Step 3: Inspection at a Port of Entry – CBP

If DOS issues a K-1 nonimmigrant visa, your fiancé(e) travels to the United States and seeks admission at a port of entry while the K-1 nonimmigrant visa is valid. As with any visa, a K-1 nonimmigrant visa does not guarantee admission to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will make the ultimate decision about whether to admit your fiancé(e).

Step 4: Marriage

If your fiancé(e) is admitted as a K-1 nonimmigrant, you and your fiancé(e) have 90 days to marry each other.

Step 5: Adjustment of Status – USCIS

  1. If you marry within 90 days, your fiancé(e)—now your spouse—may apply for a Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  2. We review Form I-485 and the documents your spouse submitted. We may mail a request for evidence to your spouse if we need additional documentation or information.
  3. You and your spouse will usually be required to appear for an interview.
  4. If you were married for less than two years at the time the Form I-485 is approved, USCIS will grant your spouse conditional permanent resident status and issue a Green Card valid for 2 years. Your spouse will need to remove the conditions on his or her residence by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence in the 90 days before his or her Green Card expires.

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May 20, 2020 3:10 am

Thanks for the thorough discussion of what can be a very complicated system. 90 days is not all that much time to plan a wedding, so I’m thinking you should probably have all your plans inn place before your fiancé comes to the States – which  feels a bit odd… Read more »

April 12, 2021 2:33 pm

Can a Thai citizen get a K1 visa with a criminal record? The crime was “careless driving which resulted in the death of others”. It happened when she was 17 or 18 and she received a suspended sentence.