Skip Main Navigation

The K-1 Visa, Explained

Understand the income requirements, cost, timeline, and process for the K-1 Fiancé visa in 2024

One in every four K-1 visa applications is denied.

Boundless guarantees your approval, or you get your money back.

Get started with Boundless

What is a K-1 Visa?

The K-1 fiancé(e) visa allows the foreign fiancé of a U.S. citizen to come to the U.S. and get married within 90 days. It’s a nonimmigrant visa, which means it allows for a temporary stay in the U.S., not permanent residency.

However, once married, the foreign spouse can apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).

Quick facts

  • As of April 1, 2024, the cost to apply for a K-1 visa is $675, and the cost to get a green card after the couple is married is as much as $3005.
  • To sponsor a K-1 visa, your income must meet or exceed 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In 2024, this means that for a household of two people (you and your fiancé), you need to make at least $20,440.
  • 24% of K-1 visa applications were denied in FY2023, an increase from 19% in FY2022.

K-1 visa eligibility

The K-1 fiancé visa allows a U.S. citizen to sponsor their foreign partner to enter the United States legally. Each partner must prove they plan to marry within 90 days after the foreign fiancé arrives in the U.S.

How much money do you need to sponsor a K1 visa?

To sponsor a K-1 visa, your income must meet or exceed 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. In 2024, this means that for a household of two people (you and your fiancé), you need to make at least $20,440. Note that active duty military members need to meet a slightly higher income threshold, usually 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Income requirements change over time, so be sure to check the latest Federal Poverty Guidelines for the most up-to-date information.

If you’re concerned that don’t meet the income requirement, you can add a joint sponsor to your application. This is a friend or family member living in the U.S. with enough income to support you and your fiance.

To apply for a K-1 fiance visa, a U.S. citizen sponsor must:

  • File Form I-129F: The sponsor starts the process by submitting Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), along with supporting documents and the filing fee to USCIS.
  • Provide Proof of Relationship: Gather evidence to show your relationship is real. This includes things like photos, communication records, travel itineraries demonstrating in-person meetings, and other evidence of a committed relationship.
  • Complete Form I-134: If approved by USCIS, your case goes to the National Visa Center and then the US embassy/consulate in your fiancé(e)’s country. At this stage, you’ll fill out Form I-134, Affidavit of Support, to demonstrate your financial ability to support your fiancé(e).
  • Support the Fiancé(e)’s Application: Help your fiancé(e) gather the required documents, prepare for their visa interview, and possibly undergo a medical exam.
  • Plan for Marriage and Adjustment of Status: Once your fiancé(e) comes to the U.S. on the K-1 visa, you are required to marry within 90 days.
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must meet the income requirements for a K-1 visa. To apply for a marriage green card, the sponsor must also meet specific income requirements.

To apply for a K-1 fiance visa, the foreign fiancé must:

  • Wait for I-129F approval. This will take 7 months as of April 28, 2024.
  • Complete Form DS-160: Once USCIS approves the petition, you’ll receive instructions to complete the online visa application, Form DS-160.
  • Gather Documents: Compile essential paperwork such as your:
    • Passport
    • Birth Certificate
    • Divorce decrees or death certificates (if previously married)
    • Police certificates from countries where you’ve lived for more than six months
    • Evidence of your relationship with your U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
  • Undergo a Medical Exam: You’ll need to schedule and attend a medical examination with an authorized physician. They’ll check for any conditions that could make you inadmissible to the U.S. and administer necessary vaccinations.
  • Attend a Visa Interview: You’ll schedule a visa interview at your country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. The consular officer will review your application and supporting documents and interview you to determine your eligibility for the K-1 visa.
  • Travel & Get Married: If your visa is approved, you’ll receive your K-1 visa and have 6-months to travel to the U.S. Remember, you must marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of arrival in the U.S.
  • Apply for Adjustment of Status: After your marriage, you can apply to adjust your status to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the US.

Note: Same-sex partners are eligible to apply for a K1 visa, regardless of whether the laws in the sponsored fiancé’s home country allow for same-sex marriage.

Pay your government fees over time with Boundless.

Check Eligibility

What is the 2-year rule for a K-1 visa?

The 2-year rule is a crucial part of the K-1 visa process. It is designed to ensure that the relationship between the US citizen and the foreign-citizen fiancé is genuine by requiring couples to provide proof they’ve met in person at least once within the two years before they submit Form I-129F. This doesn’t mean couples need to have been in a relationship or know each other for two or more years; it simply means that before you send in your K-1 visa forms, you must have evidence that you’ve physically met.

Despite the challenges of meeting in person during the pandemic, online meetings, video chats, and phone calls do not satisfy this requirement. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If meeting in person would conflict with religious or cultural traditions, or if it would result in severe hardship to the foreign-citizen fiancé(e), the rule may not apply.

If the US citizen and their foreign-citizen fiancé(e) did not meet in the previous two years, they may request a waiver of the 2-year rule. This request should be submitted with Form I-129F and must include proof that arranging the meeting was extremely difficult or impossible.

How long does it take for a K-1 fiancé visa to be approved?

As of April 28, 2024, the processing time for a K-1 application (Form I-129F) is 7 months. This estimate is based on analysis by Boundless partner Track My Visa Now.

After Form I-129F is approved, USCIS will forward the case to the National Visa Center (NVC) which can take four to six weeks.

Why is this timeline different from the processing times published by USCIS?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publishes historical application processing times once every three months. According to their most recent release, the wait time for a K-1 visa is approximately 12.2 months.

K-1 visa costs

The current total cost for a K-1 fiancé visa is $800.

Here is a breakdown of K-1 visa costs:

The government’s required fee for Form I-129F is $675. An applicant may pay with a money order, cashier’s, or personal check. If you are filing at a USCIS lockbox facility, you can pay by credit card using Form G-1450 (“Authorization for Credit Card Transactions”). If paying by check, make the check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NOTE: USCIS offers a $50 discount if you file Form I-129F online.

Once Form I-129F is approved, the engaged partner of the U.S. citizen must complete a medical exam. The cost for the exam varies by provider, but $200 is typical.

Finally, the actual K-1 visa application fee is $265. It’s usually paid at the interview —but it’s important to review specific instructions regarding time and place of payment, included in the embassy’s interview notice, which can vary by home country.

These fees do not reflect additional costs, such as translating and photocopying your documents and obtaining required documents, such as your birth certificate.

A K-1 visa is only the beginning of your U.S. immigration journey. Learn what it takes to get a marriage green card and become a permanent U.S. resident.

The K-1 visa application process: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Form I-129F

The first step in obtaining a K-1 visa is for the U.S. citizen fiancé to file Form I-129F (“Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)”) with USCIS. This form proves that the relationship is valid.

Documents that must be included with Form I-129F:

  • Proof that the sponsoring fiancé is a U.S. citizen (evidence could include a passport copy, certificate of naturalization, or birth certificate)
  • A copy of the foreign fiancé’s passport
  • Evidence proving the relationship is real, such as pictures together, travel itineraries for trips taken together, letters from family and friends confirming the relationship, emails or text messages between the partners, and so on.
  • The couple must prove they have met in person at least once within the two years before submitting the form. Evidence includes flight bookings, hotel itineraries, pictures, emails, etc.
  • Each partner must sign a sworn statement explaining the nature of their relationship and stating they intend to get married within 90 days after the foreign partner arrives in the U.S.
  • The sponsored fiancé must include a copy of all previously issued Form I-94 arrival/departure records
  • One passport-style photo of the U.S. citizen fiancé and one passport-style photo of the foreign partner

Evidence of relationship in the digital era

The digital era offers applicants additional evidence for their application that could be helpful to consider.

  • Screenshots of social media interactions: Consider including select screenshots of your communication on social media, such as posts you’ve tagged each other in, public displays of affection, and chat histories that demonstrate meaningful conversations or experiences you’ve shared.
  • Digital communication logs: if you communicate a lot on apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. an organized collection of the depth of your communications could be valuable.
  • Shared digital experiences: If you play online together, have shared subscriptions to services, or collaborate on projects online, these shared activities might strengthen your case.

After the form and supporting documents are filed at the appropriate address, USCIS will typically send a receipt notice within 30 days. USCIS may also send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if they need more information. Once Form I-129F is approved, USCIS will send an approval notice.

Step 2: Form DS-160 and interview

At this point, USCIS hands off the case to the U.S. Department of State. After the I-129F fiancé sponsorship form is approved, the sponsored fiancé will receive a notice from the U.S. Embassy in their home country, including the date and location of their visa interview and a list of required documents.


Next, the sponsored fiancé must complete the State Department’s online DS-160 form (technically called the “Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application”). This is the actual K-1 visa application.


Do not forget to print the confirmation page once the form has been submitted online.

The State Department then requires the following documents:

  • Two passport-style photos
  • Birth certificate
  • Valid, unexpired passport
  • Police clearance obtained from all countries of residence of more than six months since the age of 16
  • Sealed medical exam form (obtained through physician abroad who is authorized by the State Department)

U.S. citizen fiancé documents

  • Affidavit of support (Form I-134)
  • Most recent tax returns
  • Proof of relationship (copy of the approved I-129F package originally filed with USCIS)

The K-1 visa interview

The fiancé visa interview takes place at the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate in the sponsored fiancé’s home country, usually about 4–6 weeks after the embassy’s initial notice.

The interviewing officer will typically make a decision on the case either the same day of the interview or shortly afterward. If they need additional evidence, they will request that it be submitted directly to the U.S. consulate.

Step 3: Arrival and marriage!

Once requirements are met and the K-1 visa is approved, the sponsored fiancé is given a total of six months from the date of approval of the initial I-129F form to travel to the United States.

Upon arrival, the couple must marry within 90 days, or the sponsored fiancé will lose K-1 status. If the couple decides not to get married, the sponsored partner will not be eligible to remain in the United States and must leave the country immediately.

Unlike other visas, the K-1 does not allow for a change to another travel visa (F-1, H-1B, etc.). It’s also forbidden to “adjust status” from a K-1 visa to a marriage-based green card to anyone other than the original U.S. citizen sponsor. The sole purpose of the K-1 visa is for the sponsored fiancé to enter the United States to join the sponsoring fiancé and get married within 90 days.

After getting married, the final step is to apply for a marriage-based green card, which will be sponsored by the partner who originally sponsored the K-1 fiancé visa. Check out our overview of the marriage green card process, plus our start-to-finish guide for spouses of U.S. citizens living in the United States.

We make it easy to complete your visa application

Check eligibility

K-1 visa FAQs

Yes, but only if, after you arrive in the U.S., you apply and are approved for a work permit by completing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

Like the K-1 visa, this employment authorization is only valid for 90 days, starting when you arrive in the U.S.

If you choose to apply for permanent residency after you arrive and file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), you can include Form I-765 with your application. This would grant you work authorization for one year.

No. The K-1 visa automatically expires after 90 days.

No. The K-1 visa is only open to the fiancés of U.S. citizens. If your partner is a green card holder, they will only be able to petition for your entry if you are already married.

After you’ve entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa and married your partner, you will need to file Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) to become a permanent resident. Boundless has prepared a guide to adjusting your status, so you can understand the next steps in this process.

Yes, you will need to submit Form I-134 when applying for a K-1 visa.

If you are the fiancé of a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a K-1 visa. If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, historically you could apply for a K-3 visa. In recent years, the K-3 visa has been issued on a case-by-case basis. The common path for married couples when one partner lives abroad is the CR-1 spousal visa, which is available to partners of U.S. citizens and green card holders.

According to USCIS, consular posts have been authorized to prioritize K visas. You should check the website of your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for the latest information.

If your U.S. citizen partner has filed Form I-129F (Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)) for you and this petition is set to expire, you may be able to extend the form and avoid having to file a new petition.

Boundless Reviews