Before I get started let me break down the types of Family Visas there are:
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried Child Under 21 Years of Age of a U.S. Citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. Citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
- K-1: Non-immigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a United States (U.S.) citizen
- K-2,3,4: Non-immigrant visa for the children of the foreign-citizen
If you’ve found my blog, chances are you are filing for a K-1 non-immigrant fiance visa. I realize the term non-immigrant is confusing because essentially you feel as though you or your soon-to-be spouse is immigrating. The reason this is classified in that way is because the K-1 visa is temporary. This visa allows the foreign fiance to enter the US with the condition that you two will marry within 90 days of entry. Once you marry, your K-1 becomes invalid and you must file for an Adjustment of Status (Green Card). If you do NOT marry within 90 days, your foreign fiance must leave the US as his/her temporary visa will expire.
But let’s back up and take this step by step. So, you’ve determined that your foreign fiance will need to come to the US on a K-1 Visa. Great. We can start the paperwork and petition now. You didn’t think you just get to apply for a visa and be on your way did you?
The first step in this entire process is filing an I-129-F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). This Petition provides the USCIS with biographic information about you and your fiance, as well as proof of the petitioner’s (the US Citizen) status as a US citizen. Along with the petition you will provide proof of your relationship, proof of meeting in person within the last 2 years, and affidavits stating your promise to abide by the conditions of the K-1 visa to include marrying within 90 days of the entry of the beneficiary (foreign fiance). At this point you are just stating and providing proof of a bonafide relationship. You need not send financial support information at this time. You will pay a fee of $340 for your petition.
The petition is then mailed off to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility where it is accepted or denied (meaning, did you pay the fee or not) then it is sorted by the petitioner’s state of residency and sent to either the Texas or the California branch for processing. Generally at this stage the Lockbox facility is just looking for the check for your fee and perhaps something obvious like the actual petition itself. But otherwise it is sent off to be reviewed by adjudicators who determine the fate of your petition.
Where to File
File Form I-129F at the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266
For USPS Express Mail and courier deliveries:
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Depending on the branch your petition is sent to Texas (SRC) or California (WAC) your petition may take 2-7 months to process. The California branch has a significantly faster approval time than the Texas branch. You cannot chose your branch, you are assigned the location and that’s the cards you must play. While you wait, it gives you plenty of time to read up on the next steps to being with your partner forever.
For now, let’s start getting together all the documents we need to send a petition.
Petitioner = United States Citizen
Beneficiary = foreign (alien) Fiancé(e)
Documents you will need (these documents will accompany your paperwork):
- one (1)Copy of petitioner’s (US Citizen) birth certificate OR passport (I sent both) OR copy of naturalization paperwork
- one (1) passport type photo of petitioner (labeled in plastic baggy)
- one (1) passport type photo of beneficiary (labeled in plastic baggy)
- one (1) Copy of divorce decree or certification for petitioner’s previously terminated marriage(s) (if applicable)
- one (1) Copy of divorce decree or certification for beneficiary’s previously terminated marriage(s) (if applicable)
- If either marriage ended due to death of spouse, include one (1) copy of the death certificate
- one (1) Copy of proof of legal name change if the petitioner or the beneficiary is using a name which is different than on the submitted documents.
- This proof can be court orders, adoption records, marriage certificates or divorce decrees
- one (1) Copy of all court and police records showing the charges and dispositions for any specified conviction(s) (if applicable)
- See section 9 of the I-129f instructions for more information.
- Proof of having met in the last two years and relationship***
- Examples are: copies of passport stamps, airline or train ticket stubs, hotel receipts, itineraries,
- It’s recommended to have at least 5 photos of you together in different settings AS WELL AS the examples listed above.
- US Check or US Money order for the $340 filing fee written out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (write it all out)
***note from me: When I put together my proof section, I took several screen shots of Facebook conversations, pictures of us together, airline boarding passes, letters and pictures of gifts he sent me – printed them and placed them in plastic sleeves and put a sticky note on them explaining each item. You’ll want to keep all of this as your fiance will need this proof for his interview later on down the road.
Paperwork you must prepare:
- Petitioner shall prepare form I-129-F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (example)
- Petitioner must prepare a declaration of how you two met in the last 2 years, this goes in tandem with question ’34.a’ of the I-129F.
- This is just a single page typed document which is signed and dated and placed behind the 1-129F
- Petitioner shall prepare form G-325A signed and dated
- Beneficiary shall prepare form G-325A signed and dated (example)
- Petitioner shall prepare a statement certifying intent to marry the beneficiary within 90 days of entering the US on a valid K-1 visa. (example)
- Beneficiary shall prepare a statement certifying intent to marry the petitioner within 90 days of entering the US on a valid K-1 visa
- Petitioner can fill out form G-1145 which requests the USCIS to send you electronic notification of when your petition is accepted
Now that you have this information you can begin collecting your documents and preparing paperwork. I made a check list of all the items I needed based on my Cover sheet. It’s a good idea to send a cover sheet along just to make your paperwork easier to navigate and it’s just good practice. Here is a really good example of a cover sheet from VisaJourney.com. You can use this as your checklist as well.
Next blog will be a bit more casual in that I’ll discus how I put together my petition packet.