This article is not intended to be any sort of official guide (you should contact the USCIS for specific details of the rules and procedures relating to visas). Rather it is a personal account of what my wife and I experienced when we filed a USCIS I-129 petition and began the fiance petition process, as the initial part of the K1 visa application process. From my account, you should hopefully get a good idea of what was involved for my wife and I, however, both practically and psychologically.
My wife (fiancee at the time) and I had been involved in a relationship for three years and were engaged to be married by the time we decided to get a USCIS K1 visa. After some discussion we had decided that I would move to the
, rather than her moving to the USA (I am British). This was because firstly, my wife has an adolescent daughter and secondly, I fancied the adventure of moving to the UK and beginning a new life in USA . Florida
After weighing up all the visa options, we decided that we would go for a k1 fiance visa. This would allow me to live in the
indefinitely, after we were married and I’d applied for an adjustment of status. I’d also be able to get a USA social security number when I arrived in the US and a green card at the end of the entire process, by us doing things this way. After we’d made our decision, we researched the process regarding K1 visas on the USCIS website and also on British expat forums. We were, however, a little naïve with regard to how long it would take and all the effort and money that would be involved. USA
Once you know that you meet all the various criteria for a K1 visa (the main ones usually being that one of you is a
citizen and you are in a bona fide relationship), the first step is for an USCIS I-129 petition to be filed. This is done by the member of the couple who is a US citizen. In the visa language, they are ‘petitioning’ the USCIS to consider allowing their foreign partner to move to the US to marry and live. In my case, it was my future wife who was the petitioner. It doesn’t make any difference if the genders are reversed and it is an American man petitioning for his female partner to come to the USA , as far as I’m aware (although then presumably it would be then be a ‘fiancee petition’, rather than a ‘fiancé petition’!). USA
The burden is very much on the petitioner at this stage. They have to provide proof that they are a
citizen, and lots of financial evidence to show that they can support their partner, once they’ve moved to the US . The fiance on the other hand, me in this case, just has to provide some basic biographical information and some proof that the relationship is a real one and not a sham. The forms aren’t always east to fill out, however, and any mistakes you make could lead to a delay, or in extreme cases, rejection, so you have to be very careful when filling them out. Neither my wife or myself are wealthy, so there was no question of us getting a lawyer or attorney to help us. We just did it ourselves, referring to the USCIS guidelines and information that we’d researched online. USA
Some of the proof can take a lot of time to assemble and organize. But it’s worth the effort, in my opinion. The last thing that you want is for the whole process to be extended further. There is also a large fee of several hundred pounds to pay when you’re finally ready to send off your USCIS I-129 form.
In some ways, the worst bit is waiting. Once you’ve sent off your USCIS I-129 petition with all the other forms and evidence, they send you a receipt to say they’ve received it, then you just wait and wait. If you’re anything like my wife and I, you begin to wonder if they’ve forgotten about you, or there’s been some major bureaucratic error. Over three months had gone by when we received our notification (a form called an I-797) that the I-129 petition had been accepted and all the necessary documentation would now be passed on to the National Visa Centre. It’s apparently not unusual for people to wait longer or shorter than we did, it all depends on how busy the USCIS are.
About a month after we'd received the I-797, the US Embassy London contacted me in the UK with instructions for filing the K1 fiance visa application forms.