K-1 Visa: General FAQs

What to know about getting a US K-1 Visa in Thailand

Here you will find some of the most common questions about the K-1 visa that applicants have asked our visa agents.

What is the K-1 Visa Timeline?

The current K-1 Visa Timeline depends on which Service Center is used. Generally, the period of time from your initial filing to receiving the K-1 Visa ranges from 16-18 months.

Can the K-1 Visa be obtained any faster?

K-1 Visas are normally obtained within a period of 16-18 months. The length of time it takes to process a K-1 Visa application might vary based on several factors, including the workload of USCIS and the US embassy or consulate handling the application. While there is no guaranteed way to speed up the process, there are instances where the applicant can request to expedite the processing if they have a justifiable reason and if the request is accepted by USCIS. However, such cases are very rare.

Expedited requests can be sent to the USCIS, and are considered on a case-by-case basis. The USCIS may also require additional documentation to support the case. To expedite your spouse’s visa, you can call USCIS directly and ask to speak to a representative.

Will my Thai fiancé need a Work Permit?

Yes. Once your partner enters the United States on a K-1 Visa and you marry, they will need to apply for a Green Card through the Adjustment of Status process. Once the Green Card is received, your partner can work legally in the US. If the need to work is urgent, your partner can also apply for work authorization while the Adjustment of Status process is ongoing.

K-1 Visa holders will need to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly referred to as a Work Permit, once they enter the US. However, the wait time involved in obtaining a work permit will usually make it infeasible to do so, since the validity of the EAD will likely expire before it can be processed in most cases. Therefore, the K-1 fiancé will, practically, need to wait until he or she files for Adjustment of Status, after the marriage, in order to obtain an EAD.

At that point, the fiancé will co-file an EAD with their spouse. The EAD will then arrive within 90 days from the filing date, on average. Keep in mind though that in order to be employed in the United States, a person must have a Social Security Number. This number can be obtained by a K-1 Visa holder after their arrival in the United States.

Can my Thai Fiancé, as the K-1 Visa holder, bring their children?

Yes. Their children would be eligible for K-2 Visas, which would allow them to accompany their parents or follow the parent to the US within 6 months of the visa being issued. If the children, however, do not apply for the K-2 Visa, they are still eligible for a K-2 Visa after you have married as long as the children apply within ONE year of your Thai fiancé's K-1 Visa being issued.

To obtain a K-2 visa, the children will need to go through the same immigration application process as the Thai parents went through. A K-2 visa can also be obtained for adopted children or any child born out of wedlock if your Thai fiance’s home country legally recognizes them as your children. The child will need to prove that they are not inadmissible into the United States for any reason and will be financially supported in addition to the K-1 Visa holder fiancé. You will need to provide many of the same documents for the child to get a K-2 visa that you did for yourself to get a K-1 Visa. Some of these items include a birth certificate, an adoption certificate (if applicable), medical reports, photographs, a passport, and visa fees.

What are the limitations or restrictions on the fiancé who is in the United States on a K-1 Visa?

Your fiance, as a K-1 Visa holder, will enjoy many benefits similar to those of a US permanent resident. However, there are still certain limitations and restrictions that are applied to a K-1 Visa status.

Foremost, the K-1 Visa holder has a total of six months to enter the US after the K-1 Visa’s date of issuance. If the marriage and the filing for Adjustment of Status do not occur within the given 90 days of the K-1 Visa holder’s entry into the United States, the K-1 Visa holder will be in an unlawful status. If the couple still intends to marry after the 90-day period that is required, the US citizen spouse must file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative concurrently with the K-1 Visa holder’s adjustment of status application.

The K-1 Visa holder is not allowed to adjust their status unless they actually marry the person who originally filed the petition on their behalf. If that marriage is not completed and the K-1 Visa holder meets someone else that he or she wishes to marry instead, they will need to leave the United States and return to their home country in order to start the K-1 Visa process over again.

What is the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA) and will it affect my K-1 Visa Case?

The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA) is a federal statute in the US mandating that background checks be performed for all marriage visa sponsors. It also limits serial visa applications. The law also requires background checks for all US citizens who use marriage brokerage services focused primarily on providing dating services for US citizens or residents to be matched with foreign nationals for a fee. This law was initially enacted in order to prevent foreign nationals from abusing legal immigration practices by using the K-1 visa as a gateway to bring people into the United States.

Under IMBRA, a US petitioner is limited to sponsoring a K-1 Visa fiancé only twice. These two sponsorships can be no less than 2 years apart, from the filing of the last approved petition and the current petition. There is a discretionary waiver available, however, but the US petitioner must have no record of violent criminal offenses in order to receive this.

US citizens petitioning for a K-1 visa fiancé are also required to report any convictions for violent crimes, which must be disclosed on the Form I-129F petition that they file. Any conviction for domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, elder abuse, or assault and battery must be reported.

Is the K-1 Visa issued immediately following the embassy interview?

The US Embassies each have their own procedure. In Bangkok, they normally issue this within a week after the interview. This again varies from time to time.

I am a permanent resident. Can I file for a K-1 Visa?

No, as the K-1 Visa is only available to US Citizens.

My Thai Fiancé is pregnant but it was not disclosed, what should I do?

The K-1 Visa would still be processed. In such a case, it would be best to speak to one of our immigration attorneys for further legal advice.

Can we leave the US after marriage? Say on Honeymoon?

After you are married you have to apply for an Adjustment of Status. At that point in time you could apply for Advance Parole which takes about 90 days to be granted.

What questions will the consulate ask us during the interview stage?

For examples of interview questions most commonly asked during the K-1 Visa interview, click here.

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