The K1 Visa and the U.S. Embassy Interview
It is a very long road for many immigrants who use the K1 visa to live in the USA. Once the US citizen files the visa forms, it can take anywhere from 5-8 months for it to be approved. Once approved, the foreigner fiance must take a thorough medical exam and pass a U.S. Embassy interview. This will easily add another two months. During this whole process, the fiance remains living in their home country. The fiance must also gather a ton of documents prior to taking the all day medical exam and a short Embassy interview. For many, the medical exam will be the most thorough ever, consisting of x-rays, immunizations, TB test, blood tests and physical exam. Assuming the fiance passes, the Embassy interview usually occurs weeks later.
The costs are:
- $265 for the visa fee (paid after application is approved and varies).
- $265 for the medical exam (this varies).
- $535 for the filing of the K1 application (filed by US citizen to begin the process).
The visa fee is paid once the K1 is approved (5-8 months after initial filing) at a designated bank in the fiance's country. Failing to pay it simply means you will not have the mandatory Embassy interview. In fact, you will not be able to get the medical exam. Just because the visa is approved, it does not mean you are done and a visa is issued. It simply means the application for the visa is "approved". You still need to pass the medical and interview! After the 10-20 minute interview, assuming it is approved, the foreigner is notified. The last step is a seminar in your country detailing details of the USA. When the fiance arrives in the USA, the Immigration Officer will make the final approval for 90-days. Then, the couple has 90-days to get married. Once married, an Adjustment of Status (AOS) is filed to obtain a conditional 2-year Green Card. Cost is $1140.00. This is usually is completed between 4-5 months. Once acquired, the fiance can remain in the USA and be employed for that time. The last AOS occurs after this time passes and the fiance files for a 10-year permanent Green Card.
One important requirement looked at is the ability of the U.S. citizen to support the fiance in America. This is done via the I-134 form that the American fills out and proves with tax returns, work receipts, and bank accounts. The purpose is to show that the fiance will NOT become a welfare recipient. It is usually provided by the time of the Embassy interview but can be submitted with the visa application for convenience to avoid international mailing costs of sending it to the fiance before the interview. The U.S. citizen sponsor must show they earn at least $17,000 or more a year.
Other forms to be filed with the K1 visa application (I-129F) are:
- G-325A Biograhic Information of both the USC and fiance.
- G-1145 for electronic notification.
- I-134 (optional, but required later).
- Letter of Intent from USC and fiance.
- Birth certificates, evidence of a relationship, passport copies, proof you are single, any past police records, passport photos.
Like a final exam, most fiances fret about the U.S. Embassy interview. They take copies of many, many documents (just in case), extra passport photos, etc., even though, the interviewer probably has all of them since most are filed with the visa application. The fear is that the interviewer will find something wrong or missing and request it. If that happens, the process is delayed until the issue is resolved. Most of the time, the items needed can be mailed in. Whether one passes the interview or not depends on a complete package of required documents and the answers asked of the fiance. In 2014, over 34,000 visas had been filed and 95% of them approved. The main reason for rejection is a past criminal record not disclosed, failure to prove that a real relationship exists, a great age difference between fiance and USC, or incorrect paperwork.
The actual interview is amazingly brief because there are many people doing this. While all interviews may be different, the following is a typical scenario in the Philippines from a successful candidate:
Arrived at the main (not the annex) US Embassy in Manila at 5:00 a.m., the line was already long with separate lines for Seaman-Immigrants-Non-Immigrants. At 6:00 a.m., officials started checking and allowing applicants to go inside. The items checked before you get inside were: DS-260 form (this is the online form used to make the appointment), your interview appointment letter, and passport. Then, you will be instructed to go inside and pass through the body scanner. Electronic gadgets are not allowed (Flash drive, cellphone, tablet, laptop, etc.). No food or drinks.
Step 1: Proceeded to Window 2 for a priority number. You will be asked for your Petitioner and the Petitioner's DOB (the American citizen).
Step 2: Proceeded to the pre-screening/finger print scanning area. Finger scanning is first, then, you are asked few questions (Petitioner's name, DOB), and if you have applied for a visa before. Then, they collect a few of the fiance's requirements (Cenomar/ NBI Clearance/ Marriage Certificate/ St. Luke's sealed medical result). A Cenomar is proof you are single, NBI is police records in the Philippines. It may be different in other countries.
Step 3: Instructed to proceed with Oath taking. Then, another set of finger print scanning.
Step 4: Interview.
Questions asked were:
- State your name and your birthdate.
- Who's your petitioner? (Usually the U.S. Citizen)
- DOB of petitioner?
- Your address in the US?
- Do you have a child?
- Have you ever been outside the Philippines?
- What country?
- How did you meet?
The officer then handed me a pamphlet about domestic violence and instructed me to read and understand it. This is a test to see if you can read and understand English in a basic manner. If you cannot read English or understand what you've read, it may be a problem.
And finally he says the magic words, "Everything is good, you're APPROVED!!!".
Some other questions that may be asked are: How long have you been physically together and how many times (you must have been together at least once), and personal details about your fiance. They may just talk with you to see if your English is good enough. Just be confident and relaxed when it is your time- remember, you're in love!
The process for the K1 visa may take longer under the Trump presidency due to the K1 visa being used by the San Bernadino terrorist attack in Southern California that killed 14 people. It was used to bring in a Muslim woman that radicalized the American over time. It may mean that the process times and investigation will be longer. It could mean the K1 is more limited in availability.